AN error on a sign caused chaos in several of Worthing’s car parks when drivers wrongly feared they were getting a bad deal.
To coincide with the Worthing International Birdman contest, NCP introduced a cut-rate offer of a £5 maximum charge at its Worthing car parks, with the usual rates applying to stays of less than three hours.
But a sign, telling drivers the maximum and minimum cost of parking was £5, led to many desperately attempting to avoid the costs.
One driver, Kevin Banfield, of Chester Avenue, Lancing, said he and the four cars behind him reversed in unison down the ramps in the Grafton Road car park when they saw the erroneous sign.
The 50-year-old said: “I was horrified and shocked when I saw the parking was £5 – I was only going to Worthing to do a quick bit of shopping.
“In the end, I went to Lancing instead.”
Shane Goble, 54, from Tarring, missed the sign advertising the amended parking rates, but was charged only 90p.
He said: “If they’re going to change the price of parking on an ad-hoc basis they should advertise it on the front of the car park.
“If I’d thought it was going to be £5, I would have gone elsewhere. As it was, I wasn’t.”
An NCP spokeswoman said: “NCP worked in full consultation with Birdman and the Town Centre Initiative to offer a reduced-price parking day from 10am to encourage people to visit Birdman.
“The normal day tariff of £11.50 to 6pm, or £14.50 maximum, was reduced to an overall £5 tariff.
“As well as this, NCP also increased normal day-end time from the standard 6pm to midnight, so customers could enjoy the entire Birdman event.
“This special rate was a very large cost saving for customers attending the event.
“However, our other shorter-term parking customers were totally unaffected, as normal tariff rates applied until they reached, and stopped, at the £5 day rate.
“When the Birdman was suspended, NCP did not cancel its special rates but instead kept the greatly reduced price offer.
“We’re aware that our signage misled people to think that they would be charged £5 even if they were parking for a short period.
“This was not the case, and no customer was overcharged in the process.”