'We do it fairly' - wheel clamper says new rules have forced him to close his business

A Mount Maunganui wheel clamper says he's been forced to shut down thanks to the Government's new rules tightening the practice.

Jake Thomas says he's been forced to close his wheel clamping business after the law change. Source: Supplied

Jake Thomas started up Clamp It because he was struggling with people taking up carparking at the bar he runs with his wife.

"It's quite costly… people are parking up in our carparks, so our customers and employees can't get in," he told 1 NEWS.

"We'd ring the tow trucks and they'd never come, so we started clamping."

Now he operates Clamp It at around 30 local business, clamping up to five to six cars a day at $250 a pop.

But the new rules brought in last Tuesday means he can't charge more than $100 per vehicle anymore – and his business, he says, is no longer sustainable.

"My business has closed up. I can't clamp anymore. All they've done is taken the rights away from me and those who own carparks, and given it to those who totally disrespect other people's private property."

Mr Thomas rejects comments from Transport Minister Phil Twyford that the industry is full of "bottom feeders", saying he worked with a lawyer to come up with a fair price.

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“Predatory behaviour has made life a misery for many shoppers,” said Transport Minister Phil Twyford. Source: 1 NEWS

"We're not charging exorbitant fees, I talked to my lawyer about how to do it correctly and what I should charge.

"We do it fairly. We make sure every carpark is heavily signed so they're well aware of the consequences, and we make sure as soon as the clamped person rings, we send a guy right out.

"I'm upset, I feel as though the Government has let me down."

Mr Thomas says he's not sure what he's going to do next and he's disappointed with the lack of input from the Government.

"I've been involved with the whole process. When I submitted, there was talk amongst all the submitters, that [Labour and New Zealand First] were going to push this bill through no matter what.

"They never spoke to anyone or did any research into the private sector to see what was going on and what was fair, and they went and just pushed it through. I believe it was quite political and just a vote-gathering exercise."

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Under the bill, operators charging more than $100 could face on-the-spot fines from police. Source: Breakfast

After the Land Transport (Wheel Clamping) Amendment Bill passed its third reading last week, Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi said the changes provide a fairer system.

"They strike a balance between protecting motorists from unreasonable and extortionist behaviour at the hands of rogue wheel clamping operators while ensuring businesses have the means to prevent people from parking where they shouldn't."

The law change was sparked by companies criticised as predatory, including one who would charge up to $700 for a vehicle to be released.

If a clamper charges more than $100 fee, or refuses to release the vehicle within a reasonable period of time, they could face on-the-spot fines from police.

A Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment spokesperson told 1 NEWS the bill went through all stages of the Parliamentary processes, including the full select committee consultation process.