Between January 1, 2017 and November 28, 2018, parking company Cityparks Latvija was reported to PTAC by 428 people claiming they had been hit with unfair fines while using the company's car parks.
As a result, on December 28, 2018, PTAC passed a decision that Cityparks used unfair commercial practises including unfair contractual terms with disproportionate penalties, no effective means of handling complaints from clients and not giving customers sufficient opportunity to familiarize themselves with terms and conditions.
As a result of the breaches of he commercial code, a fine of 50,000 euros has been imposed.
Cityparks operates short-term parking lots under contract, which are most often located near shopping centers and other publicly accessible buildings.
PTAC took particular exception to the hefty 35 euro fines that the company handed out for even minor breaches of its terms and conditions and advised consumers that in future Cityparks "has to ensure that complaints are handled objectively and in accordance with consumer rights."
The watchdog also advised owners and operators of shopping centers to "familiarize themselves" with the way Cityparks operates in order to ensure the legal rights and interests of visitors to their facilities. According to Cityparks' website, many of its car parks are located beside Rimi supermarkets. It also contains a page declaring its core values to include "honesty" and "customer orientation".
Latvian Radio reported that Cityparks Latvija manager Maris Priednieks said he felt PTAC had imposed a "disproportionately heavy fine" on the company and would appeal the decision in court.
"If the decision now taken by PTAC is left unchanged, it will not protect consumers, but on the contrary will create a situation where honest parkers will have to pay more to cover the cost of maintaining parking lots instead of non-payers," he claimed.