Man faces debt collectors after entering a wrong digit while paying a £5 parking fee

Pravin Kotecha, from Thurmaston, Leicestershire, has been threatened with debt collectors after paying for a £5 parking ticket at Heathrow Airport but entering a single digit incorrectly

Thurmaston's Pravin Kotecha said he mistyped a digit on his number plate when purchasing a ticket
Thurmaston’s Pravin Kotecha said he mistyped a digit on his number plate when purchasing a ticket

A man has told how he was threatened by debt collectors after paying a £5 parking fee at the airport but mistyping a digit on his car registration number.

Pravin Kotecha, from Thurmaston, paid for an online ticket at Heathrow Airport when he dropped off his wife in November last year and received a confirmation email from parking company APCOA saying it had been accepted.

He later found out he mistyped a single digit on his license plate number, he said LeicestershireLive.

The 66-year-old later traveled to India for a month and returned home to find two memos from the company telling him he had not paid for his short stay.

He said the company eventually told him he had to pay a fine to settle the debt and that the matter was later referred to a debt collector.

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


Leicester Mercury/BPM media)

Mr Kotecha told LeicestershireLive he checked the documents and spotted his typo.

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

Mr Kotecha sent another email on January 7 with no reply, but he continued to receive letters from APCOA warning him that an excessive fee of initially £150, which later rose to £235, was now due.

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

He added, “Four weeks later they sent another letter, so I replied again and the next time I got a collection letter.”

The £150 fee had turned into £235 and Mr Kotecha still had no luck getting in touch with the park company. Instead, he managed to speak to the debt collectors and explained that he had not been given an opportunity to appeal the initial charge.

He said: “I wanted to contest this because it makes you wonder how much these companies take advantage of people. They didn’t have a system for me to dispute or verify my details before I paid and they didn’t reply to me.”

He is now in contact with lawyers and is considering taking the matter to small claims court. He was also advised to offer to pay the full fee into an escrow account – a segregated account opened by the lawyers to hold the money until the two parties can come to a contractual settlement.

He added that he made this offer to debt collectors, who he says are still awaiting a response from APCOA to confirm if this is a reasonable step forward. He has now provided the company with his proof of payment and receipts for all his correspondence.

An APCOA spokesman told LeicestershireLive: “APCOA understands that entering an incorrect vehicle registration is a slight mistake and we will take this into account. We have provided the direct contact details of our Customer Service Manager who can resolve the matter.”

The Mirror has reached out to APCOA for comment.

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