Before Kay went on holiday recently to Yorkshire, she was very stressed. Apart from having worked over 18 weeks in a hospital Intensive Care ward during the first wave of the Covid pandemic; apart from having lived in a lonely hotel room all that time to protect me (as I mentioned in the last post); apart from the fact she was moving into a flat with her boyfriend (moving is stressful enough, so they say); apart from all that, she was being hounded over parking tickets.
The big chain hotel she was placed in by the NHS for over 3 months had a huge car park, as it is adjacent to an airport and, as a guest, she was entitled to park her car there. It was patrolled by a parking agency, whose wardens randomly tour around big car parks in the region, to make sure it was not being used by non-hotel guests. Back in March, nobody knew how long the pandemic was going to last, so the NHS paid for Kay's room a month at a time, initially for the whole of April. At the very end of April, the room was paid for by the NHS for another month until the end of May, but for some reason the hotel did not inform the parking agency of the renewal for May. Consequently, Kay was issued with two parking tickets for the 4th and 6th of May. There was no telephone number on the parking fine notice to ring to speak to a human, only an automated number to make your payment. Any appeals had to be made by email. She inquired at the hotel reception and was told this was always happening to their guests, not to worry, she should ignore the ticket and the hotel would sort it out. Frankly, she was relieved, as she was far too busy and stressed at work to have yet another worry. A couple of weeks went by and she got parking fine reminders. Again she went to the hotel reception and again was told the same thing.... to ignore the fine and the hotel would sort it. After a couple of weeks, a second batch of reminders arrived and, again, Kay was advised to ignore it, as this happened a lot to their hotel guests and the fines were never followed up. I must admit, by this stage, I felt it would have been a lot simpler for Kay to send the parking agency an email explaining that she was a resident at the hotel and that the hotel had failed to inform the agency of this. But Kay was busy at work, under a lot of stress and kept naively relying on the hotel's insistence that it would be sorted by them.
In the middle of July, another letter arrived, however, this time from bailiffs stating that, if she did not pay the two £170 fines within two weeks, she would be taken to court. Just the sort of thing you want when you are up to your eyes on a Covid ward with people dying left right and centre. The hotel insisted they had sent emails to the parking agency, but sent another, this time copied to Kay, and she meanwhile sent her own email appeal to the parking agency. She also rang the bailiffs, but they said their hands were tied and could only act on the parking agency's instructions. A very Kafkaesque situation indeed. It took a further three weeks, well into August, before the fines were eventually cancelled and a check with the bailiffs revealed the threat of court had been cancelled too. She could relax.
Except, a week later, she received another fine for parking in the hotel car park, this time for 7 May. The saga continued. She emailed a rather strongly-worded reply to the parking agency. At first their response was that they needed proof of her NHS ID. (Do they ask everyone for proof of their profession?) This latest fine has now been cancelled too. However, we await more.........