On 14th September 2011, Australian Recoveries & Collections mailed out an amnesty offer to drivers regarding ANCP 'fines'. This amnesty offer is a disgrace and no-one should accept it without either seeking legal advice or at least reading this page. This page examines the amnesty offer in detail. Each line of the letter is examined. The lines from the letter are in italics, and my comments are in the bullet points. (If you haven't received a letter but want to know what it looks like, just read the lines in italics).
1. Australian Recoveries & Collections P/L has been successful in negotiating a reduced settlement offer for you”
- Australian National Car Parks and Australian Recoveries & Collections are the same company, with the same shareholders and directors. There was no negotiation at all between these two companies. The owners of the companies have simply ordered these letters to be printed in the hope of tricking people into paying. Simple as that. They can make you a reduced offer, but any suggestion of a “negotiation” between Australian National Car Parks and Australian Recoveries & Collections taking place is misleading.
2. Australian National Car Parks is offering a 14 day amnesty of $66.00 as a full and final payment of the $173.00 current outstanding debt
- Drivers have advised me in the past (before this amnesty offer), that when they have rung ARC, ARC have offered them a reduced settlement of $88.00 or $66.00. It therefore appears that ARC have standing orders at all times to accept $88.00 or $66.00. To suggest that this is a special deal, and that the offer lapses in 14 days is misleading and deceptive conduct under the Trade Practices Act, as the offer has always been there. It is not a special offer at all, and to dress it up as such is misleading.
- Lets have a look at what is happening here. You start off with free parking. You then get a $66.00 'fine' slapped on your windscreen. The amount gets increased to $88.00 and then $173.00, and now they are taking it back two notches to $66.00. What are the implications of this, and is it legal? If we examine the ANCP standard contract on display in their car parks (see http://www.ancp.com.au/termsandconditions.pdf ), clause 3 has provision to increase the 'fine' by $75.00 for “ANCP lawyers to demand payment" from you. OK, so the $75.00 of the $173.00 is for their lawyers to make a claim against you, and this $75.00 contributes to the $173.00 total. Now, everyone who has received the amnesty offer has also already received the payment demand from Michael Roper. So ANCP have paid Michael Roper his $75.00 for each letter sent. And now ANCP are saying that they will waive that $75.00 (plus more) under this amnesty. I cannot see how ANCP can stay in business if they pay Michael G Roper $75.00 to send a letter, and then they tell drivers not to worry about paying the $75.00. ANCP would go broke under this model (and Michael Roper would get very rich). There are only two possibilities that I can see:
i) Michael Roper is not charging ANCP $75.00 to send the letters. Perhaps he is only charging them $10.00 per letter). If this is the case, then the $75.00 ANCP are charging drivers is a 'fine' or penalty, rather than a genuine pre-estimate of the actual cost. This would make the contract an unfair contract and unenforceable.
ii) Michael Roper is not sending the letters at all, but rather ANCP or ARC are sending the letters using Michael Roper's letter head. Again, this would mean that the $75.00 is actually a 'fine' or penalty and would make the contract an unfair contract and unenforceable. If they were doing this, then it could be misleading.
3. By paying the $66.00 amnesty offer, Australian National Car Parks will have no recourse to pursue you for the additional $107.00 and will clear the debt as pain in full.
- The above statement is misleading and deceptive. If you pay the $66.00 under the “amnesty offer”, ANCP may choose not pursue you for the other $107.00, however, they would be entitled to pursue you for the $107.00 should they decide to do so. Under contract law, ANCP have 6 years from the time the contract was entered into, to pursue you for the full amount they claim you owe them. To suggest, therefore, that ANCP have “no recourse” is misleading and deceptive. They do have recourse thru the courts for 6 years. Whether or not ANCP chose to use that recourse is entirely their own decision. The only way that ANCP would ever lose that recourse, would if they entered into a new contract or agreement with you that overrode the initial contract.
4. Australian National Car Parks recognises that there have been a number of issues outside of their control resulting in the delay in previously issuing reminder notices and hence decided to offer this settlement as an avenue to avoid additional costs being added or legal action being brought against you.
- This is a veiled threat of legal action being taken against you if you don’t pay the reduced settlement offer. ARC are only allowed to take legal action if they have written instructions to do so. Just like previous threats that have been mailed out by ARC and Michael G Roper, these are just threats and don’t amount to any action. As such, they are considered to be misleading and deceptive under the Trade Practices Act, and they could also be considered to be coercion.
5. Should you accept this offer, you will need to pay the account before 30/9/2011 using one of the payment methods listed below or contact us on (02) 8570 9296 to make alternative arrangements.
- This is rubbish that you need to pay the account before 30/9/2011. ANCP and ARC have always offered a reduced settlement to anyone that asks for it.
6. If you have paid the account or believe the letter was sent to you in error please contact us immediately.
- Well if you have paid the $173.00 already before receiving this offer, I would be writing to them asking for a refund of the overpaid amount.
7. Finally, the "amount due" that you need to pay using one of their payment methods shows in the bottom tear-off section as $88.00. This is $22.00 more than the amount referred to in the body of the letter. So if you paid the $66.00, you would be $22.00 short of the amount due, and ARC would be able to follow you up for the $22.00 you were short.
For examples of other letters you may get from them, see ANCP