Lisburn councillors hear concerns of ‘hidden charges’ on parking app

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Concerns have been raised over potentially “sneaky” charges on a new parking App being rolled out across Northern Ireland.

Eight local councils entered into a new contract with Marston (Holdings) Ltd to provide enforcement services at their off-street car parks from April 3.

Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council’s (LCCC) monthly environment committee heard an issue being raised about the new ‘RingGo’ parking App over its ‘reminder’ text service charges.

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Lisburn North, Independent Councillor Gary Hynds said: “Perhaps there should have been more communication from the council on the recent changes to the carparking enforcement changes and the reasons for it.

Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council has heard concerns over a new car parking app charging for reminder text messages Picture credit: Jessica Black.Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council has heard concerns over a new car parking app charging for reminder text messages Picture credit: Jessica Black.
Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council has heard concerns over a new car parking app charging for reminder text messages Picture credit: Jessica Black.

“Are there any changes to in-App charges or administration fees? There are lots of people concerned about it.”

LCCC’s assistant director of environment, Richard Harvey responded: “The car parks are the same as before and motorists can use cash or the App, there are no hidden costs in the App.”

However, a council officer added: “One issue we have had is with the new App and the old App, is when it comes to the option for text reminders.

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“It seems that you have to tick a box in order to not get the reminders each time and this can be a charge of 15p for each reminder.”

Committee DUP chairperson, Caleb McCready said: “If that is the case, that could be quite sneaky, if you have to opt out instead of opting in.”

Text messages from RingGo come as three reminder types including, ‘expiry’, ‘booking confirmation’ and ‘parking stopped’ as well as a 10p ‘convenience fee’.

Once the text options are enabled they are then charged for each transaction, unless the user unticks the boxes.

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App users can also tick a box in order to have a notification ‘stop reminder’ so they can end their parking session and charges.

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The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) contacted RingGo for comment, but no response was provided.

Though, according to the RingGo website: “When parking via RingGo you have the option to receive text message confirmations and reminders of your session expiry.

“To opt in or out of receiving these messages, you can login to your account and click on Parking Notifications.

“You can select or deselect which SMS you would like to receive from the setting list. Text message fees may vary by parking location.”