A DRIVER had to pay £365 after his vehicle was wheelclamped in Huddersfield.
Peter Tiffany parked his Volvo on land at the side of the Mister Baby shop in Viaduct Street while he went to a job interview.
He says that when he went back to the car 45 minutes later it had been clamped.
To get the car back, Mr Tiffany had to pay a clamping fee of £95, a towing charge of £235 and a £35 storage charge.
He said the charge was ``scandalous". He had only paid £250 for the car.
Unemployed Mr Tiffany, of Dyson Road, Pellon, Halifax, plans to go to court to claim back the money from the clamping firm, National Parking Control.
He said: "There was a warning sign, but someone had parked right next to it, so I didn't see it.
"I didn't realise I had done anything wrong until I found my car clamped."
Mr Tiffany said he was told by an official from National Parking Control to pay £95 to have the clamp removed.
But in the 15 minutes he spent walking to and from a cashpoint to draw out the money, a tow truck arrived.
"They said that because the tow truck had been called, I would have to pay another £190 and £15 in waiting time," he said.
Mr Tiffany called the police because he was so frustrated at the amount of money he was being charged.
But a West Yorkshire Police spokesman said there was no action that could be taken, because the car park was on private land.
"I threatened to sit in my car all night - but the clamp would still have been on it," said Mr Tiffany.
Because he could not pay, the car was towed away - costing him an extra £30.
Mr Tiffany had parked his car about 3pm last Thursday and, after hours of arguments over the clamping, had to walk home to Halifax at 7pm.
His car was stored overnight at an Almondbury garage - leaving him with the £35 storage charge.
Mr Tiffany borrowed £365 to reclaim his car the next morning.
National Parking Control is based in Headingley, Leeds, but Mr Tiffany was given only a PO box number and a mobile phone number when his car was clamped.
When he arranged to pay the £365 and get his car back, he was told to meet a company representative in the car park of Sainsbury's Shore Head supermarket, where his car was returned to him.
He was given a receipt to sign, but he added the words ``Paid under protest".
Mr Tiffany has complained to West Yorkshire Trading Standards and is seeking legal advice.
A spokeswoman for Mister Baby refused to comment, as did National Parking Control.
Mr John Heasman, technical adviser to the British Parking Association, said the story was typical, but there was nothing anyone could do about it .
"There are no controls for the industry at the moment," he said.
Mr Heasman said the Private Security Industry Act was to be implemented shortly, which would mean wheel-clamping companies would have to be licensed.
"Clamping is only meant to be a deterrent - not a means of making money, which it is at the moment," he said.
* If you have a story about wheel-clamping, or problems with inconsiderate car parking, get in touch with the Examiner Newsroom on 01484 430000.