Gala Bingo and its operator Highview Parking have been harassing my family since 2015 over a parking ticket. Here is my letter to them.
My family and I are decent law abiding people who like to pay our way in life and do our fair share. I don’t like being in debt, I don’t like owing people money or favours, and I don’t like being treated like a mug.
Right now, I am being treated like a mug by Gala Bingo and its parking operator Highview parking, over a situation so petty it really should not warrant the amount of worry and effort I have put into attempting to resolve it.
If you’ve been following me on Twitter you’ll see the trouble I have had trying to talk to a specific representative of Gala Bingo about this, but they finally invited me to send them a direct message (still didn’t give me a specific contact detail… I wonder why they’re so shy to do so?).
Here is the message I sent them.
On 30th October 2015 my partner parked our car at Gala Bingo’s car park in Worcester.
She took her change to the machine in order to pay for a ticket, only to discover that the machine was out of order. It was dark, and raining, and my girlfriend was heavily pregnant at the time. The car park already had many cars in it. She spoke to another person who had parked their car and was also unable to pay.
Finding herself unable to pay and needing to go on to her prior engagement she had little option but to leave the car in place and go to the engagement.
Some time later we received a letter in the post from your parking operator Highview Parking telling us that we had received a charge for not paying for a ticket at the car park (Charge Notice Ref No ___). I responded to this letter on my partner’s behalf, explaining the above circumstances and that we did not recognise this charge.
They responded with a generic template email telling us that our “appeal” was rejected. Their entire manner during this exchange was cold and robotic, and made us feel as if we had broken some kind of law – when in fact the only thing that was broken was your parking machine. They told us that if she was unable to pay, my partner should have immediately removed her vehicle from the property.
Really, what was she supposed to do then? It’s a big deal for a solitary, pregnant young woman to pack her stuff up and go into an unfamiliar place with the hope of finding somewhere to park. If you know anything about driving in Worcester, most of the city is a one-way system too which would involve another trip around the city. Does Gala Bingo support this assertion that she should have done this – and that other people in the same position should do the same if they find your equipment broken? How does this benefit anybody if you can’t collect revenue from customers anyway?
Since then, I have been repeatedly contacted by Highview Parking, who are placing increasing pressure on us to pay a fee which has also increased in price, and which we do not recognise as having entered into – and even if we did, it would be disproportionate and unfair. The amount is over £100 and there is no way that a car being left there while a machine was broken would have cost you or your operator anywhere near that amount of money. Frankly, this is an extortion scam – we all know it – a simple google search of “Highview Parking” shows that every result except for their official website is someone complaining about receiving a questionable fine or harassing communication from them.
Now, we have received a letter from a solicitor (JMW Solicitors LLP), informing us that unless we pay immediately, that they will be taking us to court in order to reclaim the money we supposedly owe them. The letter does not acknowledge our dispute of the charge, and indeed specifically states that we have “chosen not to appeal” (if that’s so then why were we previously told that our “appeal” was rejected?).
My partner is frightened, and I am extremely upset and angry. I refuse to let my family be bullied any more by Gala Bingo or any of its its subcontractors. I can tell you now that I will languish in a prison cell before I give these extortionate cowboys a penny of my money, and I will be taking this story to the press and publicising it as widely as possible if it is not resolved to our satisfaction.
I attempted to communicate this situation repeatedly through your Twitter account and ask for a specific contact and was repeatedly given yoru generic public contact details and told to expect a turnaround of 14 working days for a response – to an urgent inquiry about an immediate legal threat! Indeed it has taken me several days of pestering you just to be invited to send you a direct message on Twitter. I do not think this is good enough.
Here are some questions I would like answers to. Note – I may wish to publish the answers to these questions, either on my website or in a video about this situation on my YouTube channel.
– Does Gala Bingo recognise and endorse the accusation/action against me and my family by its respresentatives?
– What is Gala Bingo going to do immediately to rectify this specific situation, and the harassment, worry, and accusations of bad faith we have received from your representatives?
– Is Gala Bingo happy to be working with a company (Highview Parking) that pursues and treats well-meaning and law abiding people like this?
– What is Gala Bingo going to do to ensure this situation is rectified and it does not happen to ANY of your establishment’s visitors again in future?
Due to the urgency of the situation, we require a response as soon as you are reasonably able to provide one.
Yours sincerely and thanking you in anticipation,
This letter was sent via Twitter on April 5, 2017. I received a reply the same day, assuring me that the situation would be reviewed “immediately” and dealt with “as a matter of urgency”.
Good Afternoon, Thank you for getting back to us and giving us further information regarding your complaint. Please note that full details will now be passed over to the club in question for review immediately. Once we receive a response we will ensure that we someone gets back to you. We would like to take this opportunity to apologies for any inconvenience caused and can assure you that this complaint will be dealt with as soon as possible and a response will be given. In the interim if you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us via DM and we will get back to you as a matter of urgency. Kind Regards
A full week later, I decided that 7 days was enough time to reasonably allow something to be done “immediately” and contacted Gala Bingo again asking why nobody had contacted me or dealt with this matter. I can see that the messages have been read, but Gala Bingo have totally stopped replying to any correspondence I send to them – after personally assuring me they would deal with this situation as a matter of urgency.
Instead of responding to me, they keep posting trite hashtag-piggybacking images on social media with vapid questions such as “Perfect weather for a dog walk! Where do you like to go?”
Gala Bingo – what the FUCK are you doing?