SHOPPERS have warned fines received after parking in supermarket car parks are driving them away to alternative stores.
Three residents told the Herald they received penalties of up to £150 after spending three figure sums on their weekly shops.
Private parking firms operating car parks at Lidl, in North Street, Worthing, and Morrisons, in Newland Street, sent letters to the trio after they overstayed the time limits.
Heavily pregnant Charlotte Fuller, 28, of Thorn Road, said: “It’s absolutely disgusting. The customer should feel comfortable and have time to shop, especially with children.
“The longer I’m there, the more I am going to spend. I haven’t been back since.”
Mrs Fuller was visiting Morrisons with four-year-old son, Lucas, spending £150 on shopping and a visit to the store café.
She later received a demand for £150 from a debt collection agency. It is believed the original £90 fine, from Euro Car Parks Ltd, was lost in the post.
She spoke to Morrisons and thought the fine had been cancelled, only to receive a notice of court action on Monday.
“It was quite a shock and was really frustrating,” she said.
“It’s a shame, because I like Morrisons but I feel they are driving away families.”
Widower Terry Hotson had a similar experience at Lidl and faced a £90 fine after overstaying the one hour limit by a few minutes.
He spent £160 on shopping and only managed to appeal it when he found his receipt.
Ernie Luff spent £104 at the store, whose car park is run by Athena, and was also fined, and noted one hour was often not enough to do a full shop.
Mr Hotson said: “It was a nightmare. I am a widower and I have got a lot to do. I didn’t really have time for all this.”
Private parking fines have hit the headlines in recent weeks, with Cambridge University law graduate Michael Green launching a campaign to challenge the fines, which he believes are ‘unlawful’.
He said: “The parking firms do not have a statutory power to issue charges designed to penalise, unlike the police and local authorities, so rely on contract law.
“The traditional position in contract law is that if you breach a contract, the other person can claim back the amount they’ve lost.
“In free car parks, the car parking operator has lost no money. They run a free car park.
“In the pay and display car parks, they have lost £1 or £2 if you overstay, not around £100.”
The Herald contacted the parking firms responsible for the two car parks and asked them to explain how they arrived at their charges.
Both declined to comment.
A spokeswoman for Morrisons said the firm had introduced limits as customers found it hard to park during busy times. Those requiring more time should speak to the manager.
Lidl also said the restrictions were in place to manage demand for space and would appeal charges on customers’ behalf when proof of purchase was shown. For more about Mr Green’s campaign, visit www.challengethefine.com and for parking fine advice, call the Citizens Advice Bureau on 03444 771171.