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Woman who spent £400 in Carlisle store slapped with £70 fine for using car park

A shopper who spent £400 in Carlisle’s Dunelm Mill was slapped with a £70 fine for staying in the store’s car park – but got it written off after complaining to the News & Star.

Suzanne Burgess photo
Suzanne Burgess

Suzanne Burgess, of Bowness-on-Solway, spent more than three hours shopping for bedding with a friend at the Madford Retail Park on Charlotte Street on April 17.

But on Thursday she received a letter from car park operators Total Parking Solutions telling her that she had overstayed and incurred a parking fine of £70.

Mrs Burgess said: “It’s highway robbery. Steam was practically coming out of my ears.

“I don’t expect to go to an out of town retail park and be charged for it, especially when I have spent £400.”

She added: “We run our own business and have been flat out for 18 months.

“This is the first time I have had an afternoon off and to have a look around somewhere.”

But an hour and a half after the News & Star contacted Dunelm Mill and Total Parking Solutions, Mrs Burgess received an email from Hayley Goddard, a resolution executive from Dunelm Direct, telling her that her parking fine had been cancelled.

It read: “I have been in touch with the parking company, Total Parking Solutions, on your behalf and your parking ticket has now been cancelled.

“You should therefore receive no further correspondence requesting that this fine is paid. If you do find yourself in this situation again, please contact your local store directly, who will do everything they can to have the ticket cancelled for you.”

Mrs Burgess called the newspaper to warn other shoppers.

She said: “It wouldn’t break the bank for me to pay it. But what happens if it’s somebody who hasn’t got the money, or a disabled person who takes longer to get around?”

She telephoned Total Parking Solutions which, she said, dismissed her complaint. She said staff told her that parking notices were clearly on display – though she had not seen any – and that there was no mistaking that parking on the site was only free for two hours.

But when she complained about her treatment via social networking site Twitter, Mrs Burgess said that Dunelm Mill had started to ‘follow’ her and even tweeted her to ask for a receipt number to verify her claim that she had indeed spent the money in the store.

Before the fine was cancelled Mrs Burgess said she was considering refusing to pay the fine rather than appeal against the decision after reading of other people’s poor experiences.

She said she had seen websites which claimed that private companies had no authority to demand payment and advised those who received parking charges to bin correspondence.

Have your say

what a waste of my time reading this! it is not the fault of dunelm, rather that of the private landlord who they rent the carpark off! i have been to this store many times and the signs are crystal clear. i have been charged for overstaying in the carpark in the past and all i did was let them know about it and they were more than happy to contact parking eye and have it cancelled for me. there was no need to take it to the papers as it would have gotten cancelled anyway!

Posted by nicola on 24 August 2012 at 21:08

As Alex says...This is not a "fine". If you get one this way ignore it and do not respond to them in anyway.

Posted by andy on 24 May 2012 at 18:07

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