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How a simple error has left more 1,000 drivers with 'unfair' parking fines

Hundreds of drivers were given tickets after confusing the number 0 with the letter O when entering their number plate details in the PayStay App. 

At least 1,200 motorists, who paid for their parking but made the error, were slapped with $83 fines in Melbourne.

Melbourne City Council has since agreed to pay back thousands of dollars after an investigation by the Victorian Ombudsman.

More than 1,000 drivers were given tickets after accidentally inputting the wrong licence plate details for their parking space in Melbourne (pictured a parking sign in Melbourne)

More than 1,000 drivers were given tickets after accidentally inputting the wrong licence plate details for their parking space in Melbourne (pictured a parking sign in Melbourne)

Ombudsman Deborah Glass said the approach of parking officers was ‘overly rigid’ in their handling of the fines. 

‘The council knew the number 0 and letter O were virtually indistinguishable on registration plates, and drivers would not be aware they had made such an error,’ she said in her findings which were tabled to parliament on Wednesday. 

‘The lack of discretion – to allow common sense judgements – was both unfair and wrong.’

The motorists confused the number 0 with the letter O when filling out their car registration for parking through the PayStay App in the city of Melbourne

The motorists confused the number 0 with the letter O when filling out their car registration for parking through the PayStay App in the city of Melbourne

She found a total of 1,200 drivers were wrongfully issued $83 fines each over the typing error.

An investigation was launched after a complaint by a concerned local who argued  the council was trying to boost its revenue through parking fines.

But Ms Glass found the council had actually lost more money through fighting the fines in court than it had earned issuing them.

Ombudsdam Deborah Glass said Melbourne City of Council parking officials were 'overly rigid' in their handling of the parking fines (pictured: street parking returned to full capacity in May in Melbourne during the COVID-19 pandemic)

Ombudsdam Deborah Glass said Melbourne City of Council parking officials were ‘overly rigid’ in their handling of the parking fines (pictured: street parking returned to full capacity in May in Melbourne during the COVID-19 pandemic)

Her investigation did expose ‘an entrenched and overzealous attitude’ among some officials in regards to enforcing the fines.

‘A mindset that the customer is usually wrong and drivers must be punished for their infractions, no matter how small the offence or how great the mitigation,’ she said. 

The council changed its protocol in October 2019 so anyone issued an unfair fine will have the infringement reversed on appeal.

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