Is London Colney McDonald's penalising regular customers?

PUBLISHED: 20:00 08 April 2010 | UPDATED: 15:02 06 May 2010

PARKING restrictions at a popular fast food restaurant in London Colney have cost an on-the-go driving instructor £150 in fines. Hayley Young, an AA driving school instructor from St Albans, routinely uses McDonald s near the London Colney roundabout in

PARKING restrictions at a popular fast food restaurant in London Colney have cost an on-the-go driving instructor £150 in fines.

Hayley Young, an AA driving school instructor from St Albans, routinely uses McDonald's near the London Colney roundabout in between driving lessons and is being penalised for the habit because of the restaurant's strict car-parking rules.

According to the signs dotted around the McDonald's car park, the minimum return period for restaurant customers is two hours and so Hayley, who grabs coffees from McDonald's sometimes on an hourly basis, has been caught out twice by the on-site number plate recognition cameras in the past couple of months.

Hayley, who was fined last Thursday (1), said that the system was penalising the restaurant's most loyal customers: "It's outrageous! Basically, you can't buy food or drink from McDonald's more than once in two hours which for someone like me is hugely inconvenient."

"The whole point of fast-food chains like McDonalds is that they are quick, easy and available whenever you need them. Thanks to these ridiculous car parking rules, I've had to cough up £150 for the sake of four cappuccinos."

But a McDonald's spokesperson said that fining Hayley was a "genuine mistake" and added: "We never intend to fine McDonald's customers. Instead, the rules are there to prevent commercial users from commandeering the car park and taking spaces away from genuine customers."

He added: "If you have returned to one of our restaurants within the space of two hours, just let us know inside and you will be safe from a fine. It may be an inconvenient rule, but it is a reluctant last resort."

But Hayley, who lives in the Batchwood area, said that the staff inside the restaurant had been unsympathetic: "I tried appealing to the manager as soon as the fine came through last week but he told me that it has nothing to do with him - 'I only look after the food', he said."

And when The Herts Advertiser visited the London Colney McDonald's on Tuesday (6), the assistant manager said that there were "no exceptions" to the car parking rules and added: "There's nothing we can do about it. You will get fined if you come back within two hours whether you tell us or not."

The McDonald's spokesperson said that Hayley would be fully refunded for the fine.

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