After an unplanned lunch in Durham, a father of two and a driver was issued a £100 parking ticket.
Earlier this year, Dean Huddleston, his wife Sonia, and their two teenage children went to a shopping centre in Belmont.
The family decided to have something to eat after purchasing the finishing touches for their new kitchen.
But they were unaware that their automobile was remaining too long in the adjoining parking lot as they ate lunch.
It wasn’t until a letter appeared through the family’s front door weeks later that they realised what had happened.
Dean, of High Handenhold in Durham, said: ‘We had been in the car park for three hours and 46 minutes, 16 minutes more than the allowed time. I wrote to Ocean Parking protesting this but all I got back was a letter to say that there is signage.
‘They were not interested in the fact we had spent the whole time shopping and eating in the businesses which the car park services.’
He added: ‘We are not regular users of the retail park and I had no idea there was a limit on how long you could stay there.
‘I suppose I just assumed that as I was spending money in the shops on the site, I would not have to pay for the privilege of doing so.’
Numberplate recognition had noted the family vehicle’s registration and logged it in the Ocean Parking system.
However the company, which managed the site at the time the ticket was issued, said they could not be held responsible.
Ocean Parking pointed out there signs stating that there was a 3½ hour maximum stay at the retail park.
A spokesperson said: ‘Ocean Parking cannot be held responsible for this, nor is this due to the signage not being visible or clear.
‘There were 41 contractual warning signs in place at Durham City Retail Park which stated 3 ½ Hour Maximum Stay, therefore if Mr Huddleston has “assumed” being a customer at this location would exempt him from the parking restrictions in place, Ocean Parking cannot be held responsible for this, nor is this due to the signage not being visible or clear.’
‘Durham City Retail Park is private land, and therefore if the landowner wishes to enforce a time restriction on their land, it is their choice to do so. If Mr Huddleston did not agree with the terms and conditions at this location, he did not have to park there and could have left the site.’
Dean paid the fine but still wants to warn others of what he has deemed a ‘trap’.
He added: ‘I’ve had to pay but feel this is very unfair, it feels like a scam to me. I would never think about checking, I assume the notice is about parking and not using facilities or parking overnight.’
Elsewhere in Durham, another angry driver has vowed to avoid a car park completely after receiving a £100 fine.
Andrew Bradley and wife Amey were shopping at Home Bargains in Stanley as they stocked up on Christmas presents on December 21.
But the pair were caught short by parking wardens after spending around two hours shopping, and were given a £100 fine for out-staying the car park’s 90 minute maximum time limit.
Andrew said: ‘We must have spent about 20 minutes in the queue for the tills.
‘I’m sure we won’t be the only ones this has happened too. It’d be quite easy to go over the hour and a half.
‘I will never go back to Home Bargains after this.’