Couple charged £100 for 11-minute stay in Portsmouth city centre NCP car park
A COUPLE from Portsmouth are warning others about using a city centre car park after they received a £100 charge for staying just 11 minutes.
Allan and Sheila Birt, from Chelmsford Road, Southsea, visited Portsmouth city centre on December 5 to do some Christmas shopping.
They pulled into the NCP car park in Crasswell Street, above Tesco, and say they were faced with a long queue of disgruntled customers when they went to buy a ticket.
After waiting patiently in line, they were finally met with the same problems as had faced the customers before them - and the machine would not take their card.
With no alternative ways to pay offered, and no sign of any attendant or staff, the pair left and parked elsewhere, only to receive a parking charge notice in the post a few weeks later.
Sheila said: ‘The charge was issued on Christmas Eve and we didn’t receive it until over a week later as because of Christmas and coronavirus, the post has been bad. The charge was initially for £60 but by the time we have responded it will be up to £100.
‘It’s not fair. People were standing there not knowing what to do. I thought it was possibly just us, but it wasn’t, it was everyone else too.
‘The man in front of us was completely embarrassed. He turned to us and said sorry, but it wasn’t his fault. It was the system, whatever we did we just couldn't get a ticket out and then by the time we left we had been in there for 11 minutes.’
Sheila said they intend to appeal the ticket, but so far have not heard anything back from NCP.
She said the experience had put her off returning to the city centre, and she has even complained to the council about the incident, urging them to investigate or improve parking in the city centre in order to attract shoppers and boost trade.
She said: ‘The city centre needs trade, it is dying, and the actions of companies like this really put people off. To me it is theft, it is money for old rope. In my view, they are robbing people blind.’
A spokeswoman for NCP said the firm would not comment while an appeal is underway. She confirmed that the company would suspend the charge for an extra two weeks to allow the appeal to be received.
She said: ‘The appeal process will be able to look into how many people were using the machines and whether there were any issues, they can also see whether there were queues etc, and this way NCP can make a decision taking into account the reasons given for non-payment, to make sure it is fair for all.’