An unexpected cost facing many UK drivers is the maximum-stay parking fine. Supermarkets and retail parks have been quietly installing CCTV and ANPR systems to make sure customers aren’t outstaying their welcome. Now, petrol stations are getting in on the act. Customers are finding out the hard way.
Gareth Hughes received a £100 fine for exceeding the 30-minute maximum stay limit at BP on Mitcham Road in Croydon. He didn’t park and ‘abandon’ his car, though. He got fuel, he paid, then chose to use the car wash. The resulting charge came after Mr Hughes took a full 17 minutes more than the allotted time. He claims there was no signage to denote the maximum stay period, either.
Another customer of the same BP outlet received a similar £100 fine. Media trainer and journalist Guy Clapperton browsed the adjacent M&S Simply Food to grab a few bits and to avoid the queue to pay. He paid and used the on-site car washing facilities, which amounted to him being there for 42 minutes. He appealed the fine and was eventually refunded, but got no sympathy from BP.
“How can it make sense to penalise people who spend £80 or more on your services. An allowance of 45 minutes would be far more reasonable,” he told The Guardian.
When approached, a cashier at this BP admitted that they’ve been getting a lot of complaints, and that he thought those using the car wash got more time.
Similar experiences have occurred at other vendors too. The Guardian featured the case of a customer of Shell in Kilburn, who received a fine after being stuck in a queue for the car wash.
The vendors and representatives of the retailers insist these limits and charges are there to stop rogue parkers from taking up spaces for excessive periods. Drivers contest, however, that not only are these restrictions unfairly tight, but they’re poorly publicised. In spite of parking enforcement companies often insisting they are ‘clearly signposted’, motorists still feel like they’re being taken for a ride.
Appealing parking fines
All time-limited parking vendors have appeals systems that you can use. If you feel a fine you’ve received is unjust, it’s worth the effort. If your fine comes following nothing but your use of the on-site facilities taking longer than you’d like, due to queues or similar, there’s a good chance you can make a successful appeal.