Wheel Clamps and Wheelie Bins

Ken writes:
Grrr. One of our irritating neighbours has filled up the communal 1100 litre bin, actually over-filled it. Waste at our development is collected by a private company who refuse to collect over-filled bins. Now there is something to be said for this policy. It is useful to attach a negative consequence to behaviour one wants to discourage (just as rewards should be attached to behaviour we want to encourage–––this is the basic principle of behaviourist psychology.)

But in this case, the punishment for over-filling a bin is counter-productive because it ensures the behaviour continues: The bin stays over-filled! In fact the problem gets worse. The trash builds up and up and up! Argh! It is like fining someone who cannot pay a debt!

But this is not what bothers me…

Another example: At the last development the management company had an arrangement with a private wheel-clamping firm, who would come and clamp any car parked outside one of the marked bays or parked in a bay that had been sold to one of the residents. Worse, there was no notice on each bay saying whether it was owned or not. And the development of just under a hundred apartments had but one space per apartment and two visitors spaces. So anyone visiting the complex had to take their chances. Now, parking in someone’s spot is a nuisance. But under the circumstances it is a foreseeable and relatively remediable mistake. The clamping company charged a call out and clamp removal fee and an impounding fee if they removed the vehicle after it had remained clamped for more than a few days.

What bothers me: I don’t think either of these punishments is appropriate. And I don’t like the contracts other people enter into binding third-parties like me. The cases above are not quite alike, but in both cases we have a management company entering into a contract with a company and agreeing that the company can punish some form of behaviour, but the people on the receiving end of the punishment are not the ones who entered into the contract. This is especially so in the parking case. Where does the clamper get the right to clamp someone’s car (to prevent them moving their car and to force them to pay a charge)? From the management company. Does the management company have the right to stop someone moving their car? I don’t know. I don’t think they have that right. (Maybe the management company has the right to try to discourage rogue parking, but this wouldn’t legitimate any and every means to that end).

Grr. I’m going to buy some bolt-cutters and keep them in the car. Then if anyone clamps my car, they’ll come back to find a broken chain attached to a lost and lonely anchor!

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5 thoughts on “Wheel Clamps and Wheelie Bins

  1. Chris

    The traffic police in Vancouver seem to be obliged to photograph vehicles that are parked illegally, before they do whatever it is that they do with them.

    This amuses me because the cameras that they have been issued with for the purpose are rather small, and are of the sort that you peer at the back of, rather than looking though. While using one of these cameras to photograph an item at the height of a car numberplate it is impossible to avoid looking massively camp.

    So hurrah for Canadians. First they have the Mounties – the campest police force in the world (excepting those lads in the Vatican) – and now the bum jutting photocops.

  2. laura

    Trying to think of an answer to your question about where the car clamper gets the right to clamp someone’s car… I have no idea how it goes in Ireland, but I’ve read about the money involved with such arrangements in the US. Property owners may post a sign in the car park announcing that unauthorized cars will be towed. Then they contract a towing company who will charge $150-200 for the return of your car. The property owner may arrange to get a kick-back or percentage of the fee, hire attendants to monitor the parking lot, call the towing company as soon as the driver walks away, and have the tow truck dispatched from a nearby hide-out to swoop in and remove the car in less than 5 minutes. Attempts to fight such “swift justice” in court is often more costly than the one time fee, so it continues. I doubt that anyone is interested in modifying behavior or protecting access to parking spaces. I believe that the primary motivation is monitary gain. It can be profitable “to attach a negative consequence to behavior one wants to discourage.”
    The garbage problem might be a different matter. My service tags overfilled trash-bins and violations may result in fines paid to the city (in addition to the requirment that you haul away the excess garbage yourself). It pays to meet the collectors at the curb and bribe them with gifts of booze around the holidays.

  3. Dot

    Retreating from principles to specifics, what makes the non-collection of our over-filled bins seem so frustratingly unfair is that, because we have communal bins, we all get punished for the bad behaviour of one person; but as we don’t know who that person is we can’t do anything about it.

  4. I guess they want you to regulate the behaviour of your neigbour. Time to fetch out the tar and feathers.

    There are all sorts of ways to remove wheel clamps. Look around on the internet. Some of them are tougher than others but you can always get one off if you want to.

    Personally I’ve never been clamped, but my preferred method would be to put a gun to the head of the clamper and force him to take it off himself. Come to think of it, I think that’s why clamping doesn’t really happen in so much of the United States. They prefer towing because that reduces their chances of getting beaten/shot. Then again in Boston it seemed pretty obvious that the tow truck people were mafia, so the smart man would hesitate to do anything but pay up.

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