Many consumers encounter problems with parking companies, which is also reflected in the complaints received by the Consumer Ombudsman and FCCA Consumer Advisory Services. Due to the complaints, the Consumer Ombudsman has investigated the digital practices of two parking companies in more detail and demanded that changes are made to them. ParkkiPate has promised to process complaints appropriately in the future, and Finnpark has promised to correct problems related to the Moovy application in the manner demanded by the Consumer Ombudsman
The problems concerning ParkkiPate have been related in particular to complaints concerning parking fines, to which the company has, as a rule, responded with a standard response. Consumers have therefore remained unsure of the details of their case and their rights and obligations. The Consumer Ombudsman emphasised that ParkkiPate is obliged to carefully review each complaint it receives. The use of standard response templates must not result in the consumer being left without an individual response with its justifications.
“Companies cannot disregard complaints with generic standard responses only. The consumer always has the right to file a complaint and receive a response that takes the claims made in the complaint into account and assesses their significance in terms of the payment obligation.”
The Consumer Ombudsman also demanded that ParkkiPate ensures that it has up-to-date information on any disruptions in the applications and services of its partners that affect the payment of the parking fee. ParkkiPate examines parking fees through a programming interface, and thus can detect disruptions and take initiative in considering the impact they have on the appropriateness of parking fines. If the consumer refers to problems in the use of the parking application, ParkkiPate must actively investigate the matter with its partner.
Finnpark’s Moovy application has caused unexpected payments
Garage parking used with Finnpark’s Moovy application is carried out with automatic camera recognition on the license plate, and the parking fee is charged afterwards from the payment card linked to the application.
The service fee charged for the Moovy application has come as a surprise to several consumers because the price information was available on the Moovy website and not in the application when consumers began using it. It has also been difficult for many to manage and discontinue the use of the application. For example, some users have tried to discontinue the use by uninstalling the application from their device, which has not prevented the automatic camera recognition of the license plate and charging of parking fees. Additional charges have also been incurred when the driver of the vehicle added to the application would have wanted to pay for parking via a ticket machine, as this would have required, for example, turning off the camera recognition in the application.
“Services subject to a fee may not be initiated with too low of a threshold, for example, due to an oversight in the use of the application. When designing services, the actual behaviour of consumers must be considered and aspects such as the application’s essential operating principles and potential risks must be clearly disclosed.”
The Consumer Ombudsman required that going forward Finnpark will provide information on Moovy’s service fee in the application before the consumer begins to use the service. Other essential information, such as the consumer’s obligation to keep their information up to date, must also be provided in a clear, intelligible, and timely manner. Finnpark must also specify instructions for discontinuing the use of Moovy and ensure that consumers do not accidentally use the Moovy service to pay for parking.
Both ParkkiPate and Finnpark committed to carrying out the corrections demanded by the Consumer Ombudsman.