No authority

Your letters
Your letters

Regarding the demand for a £45 charge for overstaying the allowed time in a supermarket car park, we have recently been through a similar experience with another big store, and I’d like to tell Mr Payne (Your Letters, July 10) and all other readers that we do not have to pay these outrageous ‘fines’.

While it is understandable that supermarkets don’t want their parking facilities abused, the charges they impose for short overstays like this are nothing short

of extortionate.

Most supermarkets demand £70 to £90. I imagine the £45 quoted by Mr Payne is the ‘half-price offer’ they make to encourage you to pay

up quickly.

The store will probably pretend that they have no authority over this, claiming that what goes on in the car park is entirely the affair of the car park management company.

But let’s be clear – only the police and the council have the authority to impose fines. Supermarkets and car parking companies have NO legal authority under English civil law to impose a ‘fine’.

They may claim that you have entered into a contract with them. But they would first need to establish that Mr Payne had seen, read, understood and agreed to their ‘contract’.

Were they able to do this, and then show that Mr Payne had breached the conditions, they could ask for damages for any loss they have suffered, which in this case amounts to the cost of 12 minutes parking in Worthing. They cannot impose extra ‘administration’ charges.

They cannot alter your credit rating. They cannot use bailiffs without first getting a court order. They are most unlikely to do this because it’s just not worth their while. Do check online for this company, see how other people have responded to their letters. Look for instances of them actually taking people to court. I doubt that you’ll find any.

Appealing gives some legitimacy to a process that is effectively a scam. You can instead choose to ignore letters and not answer their telephone calls. They will threaten and bully and try to intimidate you, and in our experience this continued about twice a month for nearly a year. But they are bluffing and they know it. You may think it best to pay the £45 and avoid this harassment, but if you hold your nerve they will eventually give up.

Ken Grove

The Strand


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