St Albans McDonald’s slammed for stringent parking measures

McDonald’s customers fined for eating too slowly...

A LOYAL customer of a popular fast food restaurant in London Colney received a parking fine for taking too long over a meal with friends.

Claire Barlow, 18, regularly meets up with friends at McDonald’s after work to enjoy a meal and a coffee. On September 21 she met up with them as usual and over the course of an hour and 51 minutes they enjoyed three coffees, a meal and a dessert while they chatted.

A week later, her father, who owns the car Claire was driving, received a parking ticket for �100 because his daughter’s car had been parked outside the restaurant for 36 minutes longer than allowed.

Signs dotted around the car park indicate that customers are allowed 75 minutes free parking and once Claire had gone over that time, the on-site number plate recognition cameras snapped her car and registration number and processed a ticket that was then sent to the registered keeper.

Gary Barlow, Claire’s father, said: “It’s absolutely amazing that young people, who everyone tries to encourage to drink less and be more sociable, are out enjoying a meal and they get a ticket for taking too long.

“McDonald’s wants to encourage youngsters to go there and then penalise them for not eating quickly enough.

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“I wonder how a family would get on, especially one with young children, eating a meal within that time?”

The branch manager at McDonald’s, once alerted to the issue by the Herts Advertiser, was eager to revoke Claire’s ticket as it was clear she was a genuine customer.

A spokesperson for McDonald’s said that the restrictions were in place to ensure that there are always parking spaces available for customers as there was limited space in the car park and because people had been using the car park for many hours and some had been leaving their cars there all day.

She added: “Customers are welcome to spend as long as they need in our restaurant but if their stay will exceed the stated maximum parking time, they just need to let us know so that we can ensure they don’t receive a parking charge. We never intend for genuine customers to be charged.”

McDonald’s was keen to stress that it did not profit from the levy of the parking charges and that neither Claire nor her father would have to pay for the ticket. The service is run by MET Parking Services.