A parking firm got more than they bargained for when they tried to “bully” a motorist into paying an unwarranted fine.
Former chairman of Kirklees Magistrates’ Court, Eileen Marchant, has slammed the company that manages Lidl’s car park.
Eileen was slapped with a ticket by Athena Parking, who claimed she had overstayed the limit at the Aspley store.
But Eileen appealed as she knew she had not breached the rules.
She had visited twice in one day, both for short periods, returning the second time after forgetting to buy cat food.
Eileen appealed as she was sure evidence from the cameras would see her in the clear.
A veteran of complicated court trials, she compiled the evidence that would provide her alibi, posting the parking firm a receipt and a witness statement from the coffee shop she was in when they said she was parked at Lidl.
But she was outraged when her appeal was turned down.
The firm sent her a letter saying they had reviewed the photographic evidence, but she did not believe they had.
Eileen, who spent 28 years listening to criminals’ excuses on the Huddersfield magistrates’ bench, refused to take the set-back lying down.
“I knew I had left the car park in time,” said Eileen.
“They obviously hadn’t bothered to check it out properly – they just turned down my appeal.
“I was most upset with their very aggressive, bully boy tactics.
“Their letter said I had failed to comply and had to pay or enforcement action would be instigated against me."
She added: “It said the appeals process had been exhausted and there was no further discussion on the matter.
“It said I could appeal to the Independent Appeals Service but ended with a thinly veiled threat saying I should think carefully and then written in bold that if my appeal was rejected I would have to pay the full charge.
“Someone who was more easily intimidated than me would just pay it, even if they knew they’d done nothing wrong.”
Eileen was about to take action but before she could her ticket was suddenly cancelled.
But she has received no apology.
She has now written a strongly worded letter to the Portsmouth-based parking firm and advised others to make sure they fight their corner.
Refusing to pay a penalty charge notice received at a private car park does not land you in criminal court.
Parking firms would have to take any non-payer to civil court. Very few do so due to the time and cost involved.
A spokesman for Athena said a mix-up caused by two staff dealing with Eileen's appeal meant it was originally rejected before being successful.
They added: "We have checked our systems and have found no evidence of any error but we have cancelled this charge in any event, on receipt of Eileen Marchants email."
Refusing to pay Kirklees Council penalty charges is a different matter, which can lead to a criminal court summons.
Lidl did not respond to a request for a comment.