Unscrupulous parking companies charging exorbitant rates exposed in new report.
A leading consumer rights charity is targeting private parking companies after a 50% rise in complaints.
Citizens Advice Scotland (CAB) has launched a new campaign highlighting the unscrupulous practices of companies who charge up to £200 for customers who exceed their time slot by as little as half an hour.
Complaints made suggest some of the companies use deliberately vague warnings, with warning signage hidden and arbitrary charging structures.
Many of these companies have little jurisdiction in law meaning their demands for cash are not legally enforceable.
Scottish local authorities have regulations set upon the amount they can charge for parking infractions - usually a £60 penalty, reduced to £30 if paid on time.
A CAS report found that private parking charges range from £40 to £200 with many around £100, which could be considered "excessive".
Make sure you know your rights and that you stand up for them
It also noted the fact that disabled drivers have been penalised for small infractions or supposedly failing to display their disabled badge, when in fact they had done so.
CAS chief executive Margaret Lynch said that some private parking companies do behave fairly and according to industry guidelines, but criticised those that "don't use proper signage, charge inflated fees and then fail to respond properly to people who appeal."
She said: "To the parking companies we say clean up your industry and offer a fair deal to your customers. To the Scottish government we say introduce regulations so that Scottish drivers have the same protections as those in England and Wales.
"And to drivers themselves we say make sure you know your rights and that you stand up for them.
“We will help you do that, and between us we can end this problem and create a fairer system."
Meanwhile new laws to penalise drivers abusing disabled parking have been passed by the Scottish Parliament.
The legislation aims to deal with the hundreds of drivers said to be misusing blue badges, by giving councils powers to confiscate and cancel them.
The Disabled Persons' Parking Badges Bill was brought forward by SNP MSP Dennis Robertson, who is blind.
He said abuse of the system was a growing problem and had become "unacceptable".
There are 245,000 legitimate blue badge holders in Scotland, and Holyrood's local government committee said misuse of the blue badge scheme was having a "major impact" on the lives of people who rely on disabled parking spaces.