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Friday
Mar272015

No Credit Cards Here, Thank You! 

Readers of this blog will be aware of the manner in which the Freedom Camping By-law was implemented – I have nothing but praise for the final product, even if there were a number of prat-falls on the way to commencement on 1 December.

The following are answers to questions that I framed a couple of weeks ago

1.  " Since 1 December 2014 when the bylaw was implemented we have had 672 issued Freedom Camping infringements.

2.  From this same period we have issued 22 warnings

3.  We do not record anywhere the nationality of people receiving infringements, which answers question 4. as well.

5.  Rental companies are very poor at fine recovery directly from the hirers.   Our process is that at reminder notice time (28 days after the infringement has been issued) we do a Motocheck run which matches registration numbers with owners. 

We then send the reminder notice to the owners of the vehicles (including hire companies) and the hire companies usually send us back a statutory declaration form confirming they were not in possession of the car at the time but that the car was legally hired to a customer.

The company then provides the name and address of the hirer.  We then continue direct with the hirer.  We would prefer that the rental companies would pay the fines themselves as owners of the vehicle, and then recover the costs directly from their hirers, but this is hardly ever done. We don't keep records on the number of fines issued to vehicle hire companies as for the majority of incidents we end up dealing directly with the hirer." 

Further follow-up enquiries have elicited no further information on the “recovery-rate” on these 672 infringement notices for a myriad of legal reasons, so it can be confidently predicted that the recovery has been next to zero on hire vehicles – undoubtedly the recipients of the vast majority on notices.  

My enquiry followed an article in the Otago Daily Times regarding the difficulty being experienced by the Lakes District Council (Queenstown) in recovering fines resulting from infringement notices issued under a similar by-law to that implemented by TCDC. This result was totally predictable – the hire companies are notoriously non-cooperative, and it was naïve in the extreme to have expected them to have acted as the Council’s collection agents.

But what emerged during the course of a discussion with staff on Wednesday was the incredible admission that TCDC was unable to accept payment of fines by credit card from the many tourists who turn up at Council offices to square up before they leave the country. One can only speculate at this extraordinary state of affairs - presumably it is related to the commissions payable - what malarkey! Bemused offenders drive off wondering about  third World aspects of this country.

I was assured that the appropriate people were working on the matter, and that they hoped to have it sorted before too long – well that is a relief. I would have thought that all it required was a call to the bank, but evidently it requires a complete revision of the IT system!

I am not about to berate the Council over what to staff is merely a glitch – and after all, it does not come out of their  pockets, but can you imagine a normal commercial entity putting up with this situation for more than a day. 672 fines equals $134,000 – clearly the vast majority of which has not been collected, but here we are four months down the line, and still unable to accept credit card fine payments at Council offices.

This speaks volumes of the commercial ineptitude of the staff responsible right to the top of the organisation. If more effort was spent looking after the ‘rats and mice’ than canoodling with “top business people” chasing economic development chimeras, everyone would be better off, particularly rate-payers.  

   

 

 

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