The Automobile Association and Consumer NZ are advising motorists that if their vehicle is wheel clamped, they should not be charged more than $100 to release the clamp.
A recent amendment to the Land Transport Act, which took effect in January, caps clamping fees at $100.
“Before the law change, wheel clampers could charge any fee they liked. Fees of $200 were common and in some cases were much higher than that. The new law makes it an offence for wheel clampers to charge more than $100,” AA spokesperson Mark Stockdale says.
The AA and Consumer NZ had long advocated for regulating the private parking sector, including wheel clamping, and are pleased to see this new law introduced.
Both organisations have received numerous complaints over many years from motorists about the excessive clamping fees charged, often when the driver only stopped for a few minutes or was unaware parking was not permitted due to unclear or ambiguous signage.
“If the law change fails to put a stop to the cowboy practices of clampers, a ban on wheel clamping would need to be next step,” Consumer NZ head of research Jessica Wilson says.
The AA and Consumer NZ advise any motorist, that if they are wheel clamped, and the fee to release the clamp is more than $100, remind the operator of the new law and if they still ask you to pay more, then contact Police on www.police.govt.nz/use-105, or phone the non-emergency 105 number.
Wheel clamping companies can be fined up to $15,000 for breaching the law, Jessica says.
The AA and Consumer NZ encourage the owners of off-street parking to ensure there are plainly visible, illuminated signs that clearly explain who is permitted to park, or basic parking controls like chain-link fences, to reduce the need for wheel clamping in the first place.
“If the parking rules are too complex, or not highly visible, then there will continue to be non-compliance, and it’s not fair that motorists should continue to be penalised for that,” says Mark.