THE birth of Google, the death of crooner Frank Sinatra and the adoption of the Euro on the continent – all of these events occurred in 1998.
But in that year, it would have been impossible for a 2016 Mini Cooper to park up outside the Meridian Centre in Havant.
Against the odds, motorist Julie Escott was told otherwise when she was slapped with a dubious parking penalty recently.
She had purchased a three-hour ticket for the car park on Bulbeck Road, staying for two hours and 17 minutes while she got her hair cut nearby.
However, a fault with the pay-and-display machine she used led to a letter through the door of her Horndean home asking her to cough up £60 for overstaying.
The ticket printed was not dated July 5, 2018 as it should have been, but January 1, 1998.
‘I didn’t even have this car 20 years ago,' Julie said.
‘Thankfully I noticed the error with the ticket so I hung on to it, but when it came out I was a suspicious. I thought, was this deliberate to try and catch people out?
‘So I went to the office close to the car park to try and tell someone, but there wasn’t a soul around.’
Had Julie displayed her ticket as the pay-and-display system requires, any warden peering through her windscreen might have been baffled.
But she fears fellow drivers acting more hastily may not have been as cautious, may not have held on to the ticket as she did and would have bowed and paid the penalty.
‘My bet is there were definitely people caught out by that machine,’ she said.
‘If other people were affected and didn’t keep the ticket, I imagine they would have paid the fine because there’s the worry it can turn into a bigger one if you don’t act quickly.’
Thankfully, hanging on to the ticket proved sensible for Julie – who has been successful in launching an appeal with Parking Eye and will not be forced to pay up.
But she said she is likely to ‘keep the ticket forever’.
A spokesperson for Parking Eye said in a statement: ‘We always encourage motorists to appeal if there are mitigating circumstances – and instructions about how to do this are detailed on all communication and on our website.
‘This parking charge notice was cancelled as soon as it was brought to our attention.’