Clamping practices exposed
A former clamper has lifted the lid on the industry, revealing how workers operate on commission and are under pressure to clamp high numbers each day.
Frank Gannon, from Donnycarney, Co Dublin, worked as a clamper for two years with Nationwide Controlled Parking Systems (NCPS), a private clamping company, until 2009. He hit out at the industry insisting the massive fines they charge motorists are "immoral".
And he revealed how clampers operate on a commission of around €10 per clamp, a practice he described as hugely beneficial as they only earn just above the minimum wage.
"You're paid very little more than minimum wage, so you have to clamp to get your wages up. Little by little, you get infiltrated into the workings of the company and you hear of heroes in Dublin who got 28 clamps in one day," he said.
Frank clamped around two or three cars per day and he said he felt under pressure if he did not clamp a high number.
He explained: "They [his bosses] would look at the total number of clamps that you got, and come to you and say: 'What's going on? You're not getting enough clamps.' Or they'd say well done."
Frank called for changes to be brought into the industry, because he said motorists should be issued warnings before they are dealt the blow of a €120 fine.
"The story of the clampers is to generate revenue. But the first thing that should be done is that a sticker saying do not park here should be stuck on the windscreen."
He told the Herald he spent 24 miserable months working as a clamper, since he was ashamed of doing a job which he thought was morally wrong.
"I think it's absolutely wrong. It may be legal but it's not morally right. You find that only around five pc of people park in disabled bays, and only some people park in Lidl and Aldi all day while they're doing something else.
"I don't think a woman who is parked on a double yellow line for five minutes should be clamped. I'm ashamed of the things that I've done. I've hid behind delivery trucks in a car park waiting for someone to get out so I can clamp them."
NCPS counts Irish Rail, the RDS, UCD, Superquinn and Dublin City Council as its clients, and Frank worked in the railway stations in Mayo, Sligo and Galway.
He describes the stories of people who are clamped in hospitals in emergency situations as "horror stories" which he is embarrassed about.
"When I hear the horror stories, I think to myself that's not right. When people ask me what I worked at over in Ireland I say I was an operations manager in a security company.
"It was stressful on a couple of different levels. Every day you got up, you knew you were going to be in an argument with someone. Every day I came home and said to myself, is this right? I don't think it is."