Driver threatened with debt collector after £5 airport parking mistake resulted in £235 fine

He said he received an email from parking company APCOA confirming payment had been accepted.

However, the 66-year-old then traveled to India for a month and returned home to find two company notices telling him he had not paid for his short stay.

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

Mr Kotecha said: ‘I emailed them that day when I realized my little mistake, to explain myself.

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Instead, he managed to speak with debt collectors and was able to explain that he didn’t have the opportunity to appeal the original charge.

He is now in contact with lawyers and plans to take the case to small claims court.

It was also advised to offer to pay all fees into an escrow account – a separate account opened by the lawyers to hold the money until the two parties reach a contractual agreement.

Mr Kotecha said he has taken this offer to debt collectors who he says are still awaiting a response from APCOA to confirm whether this is an appropriate step forward.

The driver said he provided proof of payment and proof of all correspondence to the firm.

A spokesperson for the parking company told Express.co.uk: “For GDPR reasons, we are unfortunately unable to comment on the specific details of this case, but we recognize that customers can sometimes genuinely make a typing error and these situations are usually quickly resolved.

“All communication with our customer service center is logged. By contacting them, a customer would be instructed on how to submit an appeal, and an appeal involving such error with proof of payment would result in the fine being waived and the closing of the file.

“We have already provided our customer service manager’s direct phone number for Mr. Kotecha and have now closed the case.”

Tana T. Thorsen