AN irate motorist turned detective to retrace his steps and prove to car-parking opreators he had not spent more than 14 hours in a supermarket.
Smart Parking issued Richie Lee with a £40 fixed penalty notice after it accused him of over-staying the three-hour limit at the car park at Hartlepool’s Asda store.
The 63-year-old was sent images of his car entering the car park at 6.56am and leaving at 9.23pm.
Richie said he had actually visited the store twice that day, for around 20 minutes each time, but somehow the company had not provided images of him leaving shortly after 7.20am and re-entering at 9pm.
Richie went to the trouble of re-tracing his steps that day, remembered he had visited the Rossmere gym for an hour and was able to get CCTV footage that showed his car entering the gym car park at 11.50am.
Richie, whose two-year-old daughter Katrice has not been seen since vanishing from a NAAFI store in Germany where he was serving with the Army in 1981, also enlisted the help of Hartlepool MP Iain Wright in his quest to have his ticket overturned.
Mr Wright has been helping Richie in his campaign to get justice over the handling of his daughter’s disappearance and the MP was able to confirm that Richie attended a meeting at his office at 1.30pm that day.
Richie has since had his fine waivered and Smart Parking has sent him a £20 cheque for his inconvenience while Asda also offered him a £10 voucher as a gesture of goodwill.
But he says he says it took over a month and complaints to five different Asda managers to have the problem rectified and he is angry at Asda and Smart Parking for not being able to solve the issue sooner.
Richie, from the Queensland Road area, said: “I want an apology, an assurance it won’t happen again and an explanation of how it happened in the first place.”
He said he rang up the parking firm the day he received the notice, on June 10, but was told he would have to put it in writing.
He did this, and also went into the store the next day and said he spoke to a team leader, who said Asda has nothing to do with the car park.
Over the coming weeks, he re-visited the store numerous times, with his CCTV evidence and letter from the MP confirming where he was.
Yet he claimed managers were not able to give a satisfactory response.
He did eventually receive the £10 gesture of goodwill from Asda.
But he said: “I used to go there three times a day, now it’s only once for fear of it happening again.”
An Asda spokesman said there isn’t a fault with the cameras and no other complaints were received that day, adding: “We know that being able to park quickly and safely is one of our customer’s top priorities when visiting our stores.
“Our parking cameras are there to help keep spaces free for customers that use our store and the last thing we would want to do is cause any distress or concern for customers using the Hartlepool store.
“We would like to apologise to Mr Lee for any upset caused and reassure him that the ticket has been cancelled.
“When our customers have a genuine reason for being in our car parks we are happy to review customer’s tickets on a case by case basis.”
Smart Parking said its response is in conjunction with Asda.
But Richie said: “I feel that by issuing a voucher they are burying the problem.”
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