A friend of mine was caught speeding in the Republic of Ireland whilst hurrying to get back to the ferry last year.After being pulled over by the local traffic cops he accepted that he was doing a little over 10 mph above the limit (71 in a 60 zone), and took the news of a fine on the chin and without any argument.
A few months later he received a fine in the post for 80 Euros and so, in accordance with the instructions he filled in the details of his VISA card and sent the paperwork back to be processed.
He was rather surprised then when a few weeks later he had his payment rejected and was told that he was not able to use his VISA debit card, it had to be a VISA Credit card!. He did not have a credit card so he decided to pay via another method, so he sent a cheque.
He sent his cheque to the authorities and expected this to be the end of the matter. A week or 2 later he had his cheque returned stating that as it was set out for GBP and not Euros , this too was not an acceptable method of payment. Just to rub salt into the wounds they also told him that as he had not paid within a specified time period the fine would now rise to 120 Euros!.
He called the office of the people who collect the fines and (in a rather abrupt manner!) was told that he must pay the full 120 euro fine within another specified time or they would issue a court summons!.
He asked if his brother (who lives in the ROI) could pay the fine for him, but yet again was told that this was not possible as all of the documentation had to be handed in with the cash.
He then approached his bank to arrange a bankers draft, but this would take almost 7 days and so the bank manager suggested that perhaps a relative with a credit card may be able to pay the fine and to which ends the bank would FAX the details to the Irish office on his behalf.
He went down to the bank in the morning having been authorised to use his sons credit card and the bank manager then attempted to FAX the details over to the Irish office 4 times!. After the fourth time he was told that he must be sending it to the wrong number, but upon reading the number over the phone it was confirmed that this was not the case!.
This poor chap is not Ronnie bloody Biggs, he is a hard working (retired) chap who happened to get caught whilst rushing to catch a ferry. He has now spent almost 2 months fretting over this issue and, if all costs such as telephone calls, parking charges and bank charges are taken into account, he has now ended up paying (assuming nothing else gets cocked up!) about 140 euros for this 80 euro fine due to a level of incompetence within the Irish fines processing departments that beggars belief!.
I wonder if the Irish are trying to pay off their national debt by using this "we delay and make you pay" tactic ?
I have advised him to seek legal advise as to the legality of enforcing an overcharge due to a poorly designed system and also to ask his MP to raise the point of payment obstruction in the house of commons ,after all he did not argue the validity of the fine, but seems to have more been penalized for not being in the correct "Euro Zone" when he tried to pay it!.
Currency discrimination perhaps?