Wheel clamping – the results are in

You’re a surprising place, Radlett. Over 60 of you have completed our wheel clamping survey so far (click through and complete it yourself if you haven’t done so – the results will still count). We wanted to know what you thought of Wine Rack’s policy of clamping non-customers who park outside the shop – with release fees of at least £200. And it’s a close-run thing. Half of you, in fact, think it’s a good thing. 49% of those who responded said their attitude to Wine Rack’s policy was either positive or very positive. Only 47% thought the opposite (you can see the results in full, updated in real-time, here). Interestingly, Radlett’s response to other questions is more mixed:

  • 55% think that the government should ban private wheel clamping, only 29% think they shouldn’t (the balance is the ‘don’t knows’).
  • 31% think it’s OK for private clampers to operate outside the shop’s opening hours, 21% say it’s never OK.
  • 49% think a policy like Wine Rack’s would be damaging to their brand.
  • 88% think the release fee should be the same as or less than the local authority’s penalties.

Most interesting are the narrative responses. Almost all are negative:

How can shop owners possibly think this is good for business?! Totally narrow minded. I avoided the last wine shop at that site and will buy wine in budgens. Idiots

I will not consider spending one penny in wine rack. I am disgusted.

They are bully’s (sic) and crooks.

A quite astonishingly bad decision by Wine Rack… I will not buy from Wine Rack under any circumstances while the parking ban is in place.

A handful are more sympathetic:

I feel they are looking out for their customers. It’s nice to pull up and be able to put things in my car without having to park down the road…

It must be frustrating for shop keepers to have parking blocked by people who are not patronising the shop, having been clamped by local authorities before it’s never ideal but sometimes the only way to control parking!

Several think we bring it on ourselves:

there is a bloody FREE car park at the back but people cant be bothered to walk! Laziness!

I wish I didn’t have to agree with it but people in Radlett take advantage… Unfortunately some people do not use their brains and therefore have to sadly be trained by authority.

I think the most telling comments are the ones that place the shop in the Radlet context:

not the best way for a new business to endear itself !

think it is really poor of wine rack, we live in a village and they should be encourging people to use the high street and local shops. they are showing they don’t understand the area and I won’t be using them again…

And this one sums up my attitude best:

It seems out of keeping with the general friendly vibe of Radlett shops.

Radlett Wire’s attitude to the policy is unequivocal. It’s nasty, predatory, unethical and it’s a PR disaster for Wine Rack. I cannot think of a worse way to enter a new market at a difficult time than to hire a private clamping firm with all the attendant bad news, hostility and aggravation. Wine Rack has been in Radlett for a couple of months and what are we talking about: Wine Rack’s lovely premises, their great product and attractive prices? No, we’re talking about the fact that they’ve hired a private clamping firm.

I hope that Wine Rack thrives in Radlett but I suspect they won’t while customers have to enter the store through a zone patrolled by people who hang around in a van waiting to pounce on careless motorists – people, remember, who earn a substantial commission for every car they immobilise and who are empowered to clamp your car at any hour, even when the shop is closed. It seems like the most elementary failure of retail common sense and quite the opposite of encouraging people to come in and experience the store.

Most survey respondents supported Wine Rack’s right to reserve parking spaces for customers but many wonder why clamping should be allowed while the shop is closed. Release fees, which start at £205 (including various fees), are clearly predatory and represent the kind of abuse of the civil law that encouraged the government to pledge to ban clamping on private property in the first place (thanks to Mr Cyril, in a comment on an earlier post, for this link to the relevant part of the legislation, still on its journey through parliament .

While times are so hard for retailers, the suspicion must also remain that this clamping policy is not about keeping spaces clear for customers but about earning income for the company. Retail premises with private parking spaces in front must be rather rare and the likely yield from these four spaces patrolled by PCS with release fees in the £200 area must be substantial. It’s a depressing thought but, with the economy bumping along the bottom for the foreseeable future, we’re likely to see more of this. Wine Rack have just made Radlett’s High Street a slightly less friendly place. Can it be long before other shopkeepers join in and this becomes a trend?

Wheel clamping in Radlett

Update: we’re asking Radlett residents and shoppers what they think of Wine Rack’s decision to use a private wheel clamping firm to enforce parking rules in front of their new Radlett shop. The 1-minute survey has been live since this morning and there are already dozens of responses. We’d like the widest possible response to the survey so please tell your friends, like and share this page on Facebook and Twitter and generally get the word out. Thanks! Steve

Private wheel clamping firms are a fact of life but here’s an interesting variation on the theme. The parking spaces outside the new Wine Rack in the parade on the East side of Watling Street in Radlett are now protected by a rather well-known firm of private clampers called Parking Control Services. Cars parked without ‘a valid P.C.S. authorised permit’ are liable to clamping and towing. The penalties are substantial and apply around the clock, even when local authority parking restrictions do not apply and when the shop is closed.

The warning sign uses the usual rather chilling language of surcharges, tow fees and daily rates and the phrase “Includes blue badge holders” stands out. There’s no mention of customers on the warning sign but I’m assuming that buying something from the shop will entitle you to a permit. All the spaces in the parade are private so Wine Rack are well within their rights to bring in the private clampers but what do you think of the shop’s clamping policy and do you support the government’s – much delayed – plans to ban private clampers? Complete this one-minute survey and we’ll publish the results here on the blog.