An outraged driver has been fined £90 for charging his electric car in an empty supermarket car park.
The “unfair” charge prompted an outcry from James Piddock, who attacked the confusing park rules and called the fine a “shame”.
In March he charged his Renault Zöe at the closed Lidl in Ditton while having dinner at his girlfriend’s on Sunday.
The little car was parked for less than two hours, so James was furious to realize he’d landed £90 just days later.
He had exceeded the parking lot’s hour and a half time limit by 23 minutes.
The pest controller was shocked – he had no idea there was a time restriction on parking there.
He had connected his car to the Pod Point charger at the supermarket and paid the £9.50 charge for the charge, assuming he had done everything right.
The brand of pay-per-use chargers connect to an app on your phone, and James had used similar ones several times before.
But Lidl’s own parking rules caught him.
Supermarket parking is free for customers only and up to 90 minutes.
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He said KentOnline: “I think it’s a shame and I want other people to know about it so they don’t get stitches.
“The machine doesn’t say that you can only park there for 90 minutes.
“There are notices in the parking lot, but they’re 6-8 feet up in the air and not in the largest writing.”
James added that the time limit was too short anyway.
He said: “Most cars take longer than an hour and a half to charge, my Renault Zöe certainly does.
“Even when I came back, it still wasn’t fully charged. When I left it was about 30% and when I came back it was 98%.
“The same company owns the machines at my local Tesco and they have a big sticker on it that says a maximum stay of three hours.”
He added: “Tesco’s is actually free. So if I paid the market price for that fee and then still get a fine, it just seems unfair to me.
“You’d think either the charger is free and there’s only a limited time – so you don’t hog it – or you’re paying to use it.”
“I said goodbye to money”
James desperately appealed to Lidl and Pod Point, who installed the pay-per-use charger, but it was useless.
“At Pod Point I felt like I was just screaming at the wind while the company talks through an automated system and you just can’t get through to anyone.”
Eventually he paid the fine, which was reduced to £45 for paying it early.
He said: “I said goodbye to the money but I just thought other people need to know about it or they’re going to benefit and I think it’s just unfair.”
In a statement, Pod Point said: “Lidl’s charging stations are operated by Pod Point and are part of our public charging network.
“However, the conditions of the parking lot are set and enforced by the charge point operator and owner of the asset.
“We advise motorists to refer to the parking lot’s terms and conditions and to check the physical parking lot signage and/or the Pod Point app for parking restrictions and hours of operation.
“The Pod Point app prompts users to check parking lot conditions and our in-app notifications have recently been updated to make things clearer for EV drivers using the Lidl charging stations.
“We would also politely advise Mr Piddock to consider the possible needs of other EV drivers to avoid inadvertently preventing others from charging when they need it.”
Lidl commented: “The vast majority of car parks in our stores offer free parking for up to 90 minutes and most of our EVC charge points have fast chargers that can charge up to 80% in just 45 minutes.
“As is standard across the industry, parking use is subject to the terms and conditions for anyone using the car park.
“We have very clear signage that is prominently displayed in our parking lots and an additional prompt is displayed in the Pod Point app.
“We at Lidl UK are proud to have invested over £25m in rolling out EV charging since 2017 and have committed to having fast charging points in 300 stores by the end of 2022.
“We are also proud to offer our customers the cheapest pay-as-you-go fast charging of any supermarket, currently only 26p per kWh.”
https://www.thesun.ie/motors/8723678/fined-charging-electric-car-empty-supermarket-car-park/ I was fined £90 for charging my electric car in an empty supermarket car park