A reader asks why they were penalised even though they paid to use the charger
I live in London and rely on the public network to charge up my electric car, a Renault Zoe. A few years ago, Lidl introduced rapid chargers, which was great, and I started using its stores, leaving my car on charge while I shopped.
On a Sunday in late October, I needed to charge my vehicle, and, as all units around me were in use, I drove to the Lewisham Lidl I normally use. I arrived at 8am, charged the car for an hour, paid, and left just after 9am. The store was closed at the time.
A few weeks later I received a £90 demand for failing to register my number plate (in that closed store), reduced to £45 for prompt payment. The rationale was that I was using the car park outside store operating hours, and that I was not a customer, despite the fact that I had paid the £10 cost to charge my car.
I imagined it was a mistake but the parking company, Parking Eye, refused to void it. I was told I could appeal but that I would lose.
There were no signs on the charger warning drivers that they would be fined if they used it outside the store’s opening hours. I have wasted a huge amount of time over this crazy situation.
Lidl has won praise for its network of fast EV chargers, but has clearly had a bit of a short-circuit when it comes to its parking policy. Lidl tells me that the store in question offers 90 minutes’ free parking, but requires customers to validate their car registration number inside the shop to, in effect, show they are using the store. It says the same rules apply to those using the rapid chargers, whether the stores are open or not – hence the ticket.
Lidl has agreed to waive the charge, and conceded that the matter needs to be addressed. “Our teams are looking into this to prevent it happening again,” it says.
It’s absurd it wasn’t waived after you showed proof you’d been using the charger, but that’s the crazy parking world the UK has become.
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