A CAR clamping firm operating in Laindon has been double charging drivers against industry regulations.
Parking Control Services has been charging drivers £125 to release their cars and an additional £75 parking ticket fine at a parade of shops in Station Gate.
The British Parking Association, a self-regulatory body, says its code of conduct states firms should only charge drivers a clamping fee or a penalty charge notice and not both.
The association also revealed it had rescinded the membership of PCS in 2010 for doing the same thing.
Mark Frazer, a spokesman for the association, said PCS had failed to pay motorists back after losing county court judgements.
Mr Frazer said: “Parking Control Services was expelled from our approved operator scheme a number of years ago for serious non-compliance with the code of practice relating to their behaviour while clamping vehicles and for concerns surrounding county court judgements outstanding against them.”
Because the firm is no longer a member, Mr Frazer said: “We are powerless to act against the company.”
Invoices issued by PCS and seen by the Echo, clearly show the double charging.
The firm is believed to be making as much as £1,000 a night by catching drivers, with several motorists saying they were ordered to pay up in cash as the firm said its debit and credit card machine was broken.
One motorist, Colin Spall, 36, of Southwell Link, Laindon, has lodged an appeal against the £200 charges he received, but is now worried he won’t get any money back.
He said: “It’s a lot of money to pay out. That’s half of my week’s wages gone in five minutes. I worked hard for that and I won’t get it back.”
PCS has been hired to police six parking bays near the parade of shops. As well as upsetting motorists, the firm has upset business owners who claim customers are being driven away because motorists are too scared to park outside.
Mario Ireland, 40, who ran Parking Control Services when it was expelled from the BPA said he was no longer involved in the business and had no idea who was running it and would not comment further.