AN Inverness haulage company has become the latest victim of Smart Parking in what seems a bizarre targeting of its delivery operations.
Family-owned business Mac-Ritchie Highland Distribution, which works out of Carsegate Road in the city, was stunned recently when it received a £100 demand from Smart Parking for overstaying its time at the Strothers Lane car park.
On the date in question driver Iain Mackenzie was actually making a delivery to the TK Maxx store that sits next to the car park – something the firm’s bosses say it has been doing routinely for years.
Owner Catriona MacRitchie said: “It’s a regular run for us, the only way to access the store being for our guys to drive into the car park.
“It’s a seven-and-a-half tonne vehicle and the delivery involves unloading a number of pallets, so there’s no way they can be in and out in the time before you need to have bought a ticket.
“They always park in the loading bay area rather than an actual parking space though, and don’t block anyone in or anything like that.
“We’ve never had this happen before, so it was a real shock to get this demand.”
Challenging the initial charge from Smart Parking, the company was able to provide evidence that it was on a genuine delivery run at the time, but says the firm wasn’t interested in entertaining the appeal.
The matter was then escalated to debt collection agency Debt Recovery Plus and the “fine” increased to £160.
“We challenged them over it and were told that ‘as a gesture of goodwill’ they were willing to reduce the charge from £160 to £100,” Mrs MacRitchie said.
“We just told them we weren’t paying. This is a run we’ve done countless times before without any difficulty and it makes no sense for them to target us completely out of the blue like this now.”
Mrs MacRitchie said she worried about the impact practices at the city centre car park could be having on Inverness as a whole.
“When you’re meant to be encouraging people to come into town as much as possible it seems madness to have something like this operating here in the way it is. It’s just going to put people off.”
n The HN is continuing to pass on all customer complaints brought to its attention to trading standards, which is conducting its own investigations and looking for evidence of customers’ experiences. You can email us at email@example.com