Supermarket parking tickets

One of the things we hear about a lot are parking tickets issued by Supermarkets – Tesco, Asda and Aldi in particular, but others too. We thought it would be useful to provide you an overview of why this is happening and what you can do about them.

These shops require large car parks to service their customer base and often they employ a 3rd party private parking company to enforce them – companies such as Parking Eye and UK Parking Control. There are various reasons for this:

  • The private parking companies want to manage as many car parks as they can – they make money by ticketing
  • The supermarket car parks may be ‘abused’ – i.e. people parking there and not using the shops, or people leaving cars there for prolonged periods

So, private parking companies agree contracts with the supermarkets to manage them. Quite often, these deals involve the parking company managing the car park for free since they make money by ticketing; in some cases the parking company even pays the supermarket to operate in their car park! Some of the contracts may also involve the supermarket receiving a proportion of the fee (e.g. £10 of each ticket goes to the supermarket for profit).

Private parking companies even go to the expense of installing ANPR systems (Automatic Number Plate Recognition). These cameras monitor cars going in and out of the supermarket in order to determine how long each stayed there. For each car that stayed longer than the stated maximum time, the system will automatically send a parking ticket to the registered keeper of the car – talk about printing money!

The problem comes where the private parking companies try to enforce their rules very strictly in order to maximise the number of tickets they issue to improve their profits. Examples of this include:

  • Leaving the car park to visit nearby shops
  • Staying over the stated maximum time
  • Parking outside of a marked bay
  • Parking in a bay not intended for them (disabled, parent with child)

The question is how strictly should these rules be enforced? For example, if I were to stay ten minutes over the 2 hour limit to have a coffee in their cafe, do I really deserve a £100 ‘fine’? If the car park is half-empty and I park on the line of the bay, does it cause loss to the supermarket? If I use the supermarket, but then pop into the shop next door for 10 minutes, is that really a problem? These are the kind of situations that have meant people have received tickets and been relentlessly pursued for payment.

Disability bays are another great cause of private parking tickets – see our article here.

So, what should you do if you receive a parking ticket from Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’sAldi, or Morrisons? Firstly, if you think it’s been issued unfairly, tell the shop – ask to speak to the manager and tell them – quite often they can get the ticket rescinded. From the shop’s perspective it’s much more important to keep you as a customer than to lose you over a parking ticket. If that fails, then read my site on how to deal with them, starting here

Update June 2013: Friend of the site The Parking Prankster, has recently written an article on Parking Eye tickets issued at Aldi supermarkets which has caused Aldi a PR nightmare. If you’ve been affected, take a look at his article.

Please note, some supermarkets use council-owned car parks, so you should look up specific advice on how to deal with these.

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