Thousands of parking tickets issued on behalf of MK Council have been in “severe breach” of government guidance, the Citizen can reveal.
On the reverse of each ticket is printed an 0845 number for people to call to make a payment or ask questions.
But there is no mention of the fact that this number costs callers up to 70p a MINUTE.
Yet three years ago government watchdog Ofcom issued new rules stating these charges must be clearly displayed underneath any 0845 number.
This week, following a Citizen investigation, Ofcom is due to contact MK Council to deliver a rap on the knuckles and demand better practice.
Meanwhile red-faced council officials are passing the buck to their parking contractors Indigo – despite the fact that the 0845 number is answered by the council’s own parking department in the civic offices.
It is located in the same building as Trading Standards, which technically is responsible for enforcing the same consumer regulations broken by the tickets.
A council spokesman said: “This 0845 number is owned by a parking services company who provide us with call management services in MK. We’ve asked this supplier to urgently look into their provision of the 0845 number to make sure they and we meet the regulations responsibly.”
National campaign group Fair Telecoms has slammed MK Council and Indigo.
The group’s spokesman David Hickson said: “This use of a 0845 number is greedy and foolish. It is annoying that rogue local authorities continue this unacceptable practice when it is so easy to change.”
Indigo parking said this week that the 0845 number was already being changed.
The cost of 0845 numbers ncludes the service charge and the access charge.
In this case the service charge, pocketed by the council and/or Indigo, is 7p a minute. Added to this is the access charge from the service provider. From a landline this is up to 15p a minute but from mobile phone providers it is up to 55p a minute.
When the Citizen made a lengthy call to the MK parking number, at no stage were we warned of the cost.