A BUSINESSWOMAN says people shouldn’t be put off making small claims after she won her battle with a firm which clamped her car.
Eileen Owens, director of UKauctioneers.com in Shipgate Street, parked on wasteland on Grosvenor Park Road, next to St Werburgh’s Church, on the evening of September 8 last year to collect her son from his confirmation class.
Mum-of-two Mrs Owens, of Handbridge, claims she had been gone for only 10 minutes when she returned to find that DCS, a clamping firm from Birkenhead, had put a clamp on her car together with a fine for £150.
She said: “I called the number left on the ticket and was told the operatives were now on their way to Warrington and would only return to release me when I had the £150 fine in cash.
“I was then threatened with being charged another £250 if I didn’t pay immediately and the car would be towed away.
“I told them that I only had my mobile phone and that I also had my younger son with me and we were effectively left stranded in the car park.
“I explained I would have to walk home to get my purse and then back into town to go to a cashpoint – he told me to ask a friend to bring me the money.”
Mrs Owens added: “The operatives eventually returned about an hour later just as a friend arrived with the cash.
“I handed over the money (under protest) and they removed the clamp. I felt like I’d been mugged.”
Mrs Owens then took photographs of the area on her mobile phone and returned home to start putting her small claim together, with the help of websites including moneysavingexpert.com.
Mrs Owens claimed against Gerrard McDonough, whom she found listed as a director of BP Assets, owners of the land, and Joseph Byrne, of DCS. Her claim indicated how the car park was dark with no lit signage.
Director of BP Assets Ltd Bill Griffiths said a sign outside the car park which states: ‘Private Property, No Parking’ and red signs in the car park with details of the risk of car clamping have been up for about two years but Mrs Owens said neither is lit at night.
Mr Griffiths claims Mrs Owens won her claim ‘by default’ as she initially made the claim against the wrong firm.
He said: “We appealed but it was going to cost so much money we paid up.
“We have worked closely with the church for four years to allow the congregation to park there for free during services.”
This week Mrs Owens received a cheque for £325 from BP Assets Ltd, which includes the cost of the small claim, the original fine and another £150 for compensation for her distress.
Mrs Owens added: “People shouldn’t be put off filing small claims because they see it as too challenging or time consuming. ”