Debt collectors threaten man who typed in wrong number when paying £5 parking fee

A man says he is being threatened by debt collectors after mistyping a number on his car number plate when paying a £5 parking fee at the airport. Pravin Kotecha paid for a ticket online at Heathrow Airport, when he dropped off his wife in November last year, and received a confirmation email from parking company APCOA saying he had been accepted.

It was later that he discovered that he had mistyped a single digit of his license plate. The 66-year-old then traveled to India for a month and returned home to find two company notices telling him he had not paid for his short stay.

He said the company eventually told him he would have to pay a fine to settle the debt and later the matter was referred to a debt collector. Mr Kotecha said LeicestershireLive he checked the documents and spotted his typing error.

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“I emailed them that day, when I realized my little mistake, to explain myself,” he said. “But they didn’t answer. I put it down to the fact that Christmas and New Years were so close, so I waited.”

Mr Kotecha sent another email on January 7 again unanswered but continued to receive letters from APCOA warning him that an inflated charge, initially £150 but later rising to £235 , was now due.

“I tried to ask them where the payment went,” he said, because despite entering the wrong license plate number, he still had proof of payment in his account.



Mr Kotecha said he was dropping his wife off at Heathrow Airport when the mistake happened

He added: ‘Four weeks later they sent another letter so I replied again and the next time I was sent a debt collector letter.’

The £150 charge had become £235 and Mr Kotecha still had no luck contacting the parking company. Instead, he managed to speak with debt collectors and was able to explain that he didn’t have the opportunity to appeal the original charge.

He said: “I wanted to challenge this because it makes you wonder how much these companies take advantage of people. They had no system for me to appeal or confirm my details before paying and they didn’t answered.”

He is now in contact with lawyers and plans to take the case to small claims court. It was also advised to offer to pay all fees into an escrow account – a separate account opened by the lawyers to hold the money until the two parties reach a contractual agreement.

He added that he had taken this offer to debt collectors who he said are still awaiting a response from APCOA to confirm whether this is an appropriate step forward. In the meantime, he has provided his proof of payment and proof of all his correspondence to the firm.

An APCOA spokesperson told LeicestershireLive: “APCOA understands that entering an incorrect car registration is an easy mistake to make and we will take this into account. We have provided direct contact details for our Customer Service Manager who may solve the problem.”

The Mirror has contacted APCOA for comment.

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