Speedy clamper in strife

CLAMPED: Outraged driver Trevor Rogers.
CHRIS SKELTON/Fairfax NZ

CLAMPED: Outraged driver Trevor Rogers.

A clamping firm admits it may have been wrong to clamp a car that had two passengers inside, both of them qualified drivers, and the car keys in the ignition.

Astonished driver Trevor Rogers may get his $200 clamping fee back from Elite Parking Services after the Sunday Star-Times approached Elite's owner, Gordon Ward.

Rogers, a semi-retired leatherworker, says his car was clamped in the private car park of the Ray White real estate agency in Henderson, west Auckland, by an Elite contractor.

He had darted less than 100 metres to post two DVDs into the returns slot at the library, leaving his girlfriend and a friend's daughter inside the car.

When he got back to his car a minute later, it was already clamped.

Passenger Nancy Waqa says the clamper wore no uniform, had no signwriting on his vehicle and no visible ID when he approached the car.

"He walked around the vehicle, made eye-contact, then knelt down by the driver's wheel and put something down, and it immediately clicked that he must have clamped the car.

"I was really surprised he would do it without even talking to us," she said.

Rogers admits he was wrong to park there, and had seen the signs prohibiting him parking, but figured as it was a weekend, the car park was almost deserted and his passengers stayed with the car, he would get away with it.

Rogers and his friends had just been swimming at the nearby West Wave pool, so had no cash with them to pay the $200 fee.

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He borrowed Ray White's office phone to call Elite, who said he would need to pay something within 90 minutes or risk a $450 towing fee.

A friend eventually brought him his wallet from home to pay the clamper. Ward said he always took a "fair and reasonable" approach and said Rogers' version of events suggested the clamper had not followed the company's protocol.

Ward said they would clamp a car with passengers inside, but only if they had first been asked, and refused to move the car.

His clampers were paid salary, and were not on commission to clamp extra cars.

He said he hadn't heard of this particular case as Rogers hadn't made a complaint, but if he provided some evidence, he was likely to get a refund.

Rogers intends to lodge a complaint with the clamping firm this week.

"If there's been a breach of policy, and he can prove it, we will do something," Ward said.

The 90-minute time period to offer payment was because so many people came up with stories as to why they couldn't pay, but it was a rarity to actually have to carry out the threat to tow a car, he said.

 - Sunday Star Times

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