Zipcar sent me a £305 bill for parking in one of its bays

Credit card buy

I’ve been a Zipcar member since 2013 and I use the service six to eight times a year. At the end of January I made a booking for an hour, with the car collected from and dropped off at the same location.

I became aware there was a problem in February when my banking app showed Zipcar had taken £305 from my account. I searched my emails and found a message from it in my spam folder.

The parking bay had been suspended by Waltham Forest council the following day and the car had been impounded. The £305 included a £65 penalty charge notice and a £200 recovery fee for the car.

I phoned Zipcar immediately and was told to send an email. It told me that members should not park in bays with an up-and-coming suspension but on the day of the hire it sent me an email telling me to park there. The money was taken by direct debit.

Zipcar did not reply to my emails for two months, but is now saying the matter is closed. What can I do?

JD, London

Help credit report

In its correspondence Zipcar said that if it had been aware of the upcoming suspension it would have arranged a safe space for the vehicle to be left in. “Unfortunately, you did not make us aware of any issues with the bay, as a result, you are liable for the violation,” it said.

Zipcar told us the council had not alerted it to the suspension, which led it to provide information that was “unfortunately inaccurate”.

  Private rents in UK reach record highs, with 20% rises in Manchester

“Our member policy asks that members notify us whenever a vehicle is left in a zone with parking restrictions so that our team can move the vehicles out of the location,” it said.

We pushed back on this, and after completing a review of your complaint Zipcar says: “Our investigation has concluded that while the customer’s parking notice was valid as issued by the council, we have taken the decision to pay the charge and offer a full refund.”

However, it also wants to remind you of your responsibilities as detailed in the member contract. “We urge all members to contact member services should a bay suspension sign be visible when parking a car in its designated place,” it says.

You are pleased Zipcar relented and will look out for parking suspension notices in future and, despite this, you would still recommend the car club to other users.

We welcome letters but cannot answer individually. Email us at or write to Consumer Champions, Money, the Guardian, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Please include a daytime phone number. Submission and publication of all letters is subject to our terms and conditions:

Leave a Reply