A pensioner has been left fuming after claiming she was "blackmailed" into paying a £170 parking fine – despite putting £1 in a machine.
Mary Jones, 72, and her husband Mike went to Iceland supermarket in Barnstaple, Devon, in January and parked in a car park they thought belonged to the supermarket, but was managed by Excel Parking.
Mrs Jones said she went to put money in the machine but a ticket never came out and she didn't get her money back.
She says she went into Iceland and explained what happened and claims she was told it would be safe, DevonLive reports.
Mrs Jones said: "My husband stayed in the car because he's not able to do any walking at the moment. I went to the machine to get a ticket out, put the money in and no ticket, nor my pound came out.
"I went and told him to keep an eye out in case the chappie came along. I had a word in Iceland to explain what had happened and that I did not have a ticket. The lady doubled checked and confirmed that should be ok.”
Mrs Jones and her husband went shopping at Iceland in Barnstaple
DEVON LIVE/BPM MEDIA)
She said she returned to her car after 40 minutes of shopping and then went home.
Mrs Jones was shocked when she received a letter from Excel Parking for a fine of £100.
She said: "I was not impressed having thought that it was all sorted.
“I got hold of them on the telephone and explained what had happened. All I received in reply was them saying it was not down to Iceland to say I could park there.
"I also explained that if they checked the money that had gone into the machine, it would not tally by at least a pound with mine had gone in. The proof was there if they work their accounts correctly."
Mrs Jones appealed the decision, but the claim was rejected.
In its response to her, Excel Parking wrote: “We are unable to accept your appeal. The signs at the car park make it clear that a valid ticket must be purchased for all vehicles which park or enter the park, giving clear notice that the land is private property and that a charge of £100 will be levied if vehicles park outside the terms and conditions displayed.
“Signs also state that when a ticket is purchased, the full and accurate vehicle registration number of the vehicle parked must be entered into the P&D ticket machine. The above-detailed vehicle parked without payment of the parking tariff for the vehicle on-site and you became liable for the charge advertised.”
It adds: “We note your comment that you were unable to purchase a ticket because the machine was not working. In that circumstance, if you should have sought alternative parking or phoned the helpline. By failing to make payment for the period of parking question, you became liable for the charge notice issued.
“Signs on-site clearly display a helpline telephone number which is available to use by motorists who have any problems or queries in respect of their use of the car park. In this case, the driver should have called that helpline so that arrangements could be made, or advice given in respect of any problem they had.
“We note your comments in respect of you being offered advice on how to park. Iceland staff on site are not authorised to allow motorists to park in contravention of the terms and conditions displayed at the car park. It is the motorist’s sole responsibility to ensure they park correctly. If you were unable to park correctly, you had the option to phone the helpline for advice or to find alternative parking.”.
Mrs Jones was left "annoyed" and in disbelief.
She added: "I just cannot believe that in all honesty.
“They were told what had happened, that I wasn't trying to con them out of a pound, and now I’ve been told to pay £170 with now the threat that if it's not paid, the bailiffs are coming.
“I'm just furious. Mike is more concerned with the fact that they're threatening bailiffs. They threaten county court proceedings, the potential impacts of having a CCJ, and a negative impact on your credit rating affect your current employment, although we’re retired anyway, so that’s immaterial.
“They say it will enable enforcement action to commence such as obtaining an attachment of earnings, placing a charge or restriction on property and applying a warrant of execution which will result in bailiffs. Where do you go? Do I just ignore it? I’m more concerned about my husband because he's not fit at the moment to be under this stress. I don't want to pay it; I don’t think it’s right. It’s blackmail.
“This letter is just stupid really. The pound went in, they've got the pound which I couldn't claim back which I would have been able to if I’d got a ticket anyway.
"I thought at the time, I had better things to do than just losing a pound in the machine and after speaking to staff at Iceland they told me it was fine. Somebody is at fault aren’t they?”
The Mirror contacted Excel Parking and Iceland for a comment.