A grandmother was given a £100 parking fine by a Northampton McDonald’s after her grandchildren used their play area and restaurant for longer than 90 minutes.
Karen O’Rourke was at the McDonalds in Weston Favell on a day out with two of her grandchildren when she overstayed.
She was oblivious of the fine until a week later, when she received a letter from a parking enforcement firm demanding up to £100 for overstaying by about 30 minutes.
Mrs O’Rourke paid up following a failed appeal but said she wanted to warn parents and other grandparents.
She said: “I can just about understand a 90-minute time limit for eating a meal, but for playing as well is very harsh.
“They encourage families to stay by having a play area, with iPads and soft play, then we’re punished for doing so.
“It’s not as if we weren’t customers still, because I bought the children ice cream while they were playing.
“I won’t be returning.”
The letter turning down the appeal, from MET Parking Services, says customers can sometimes have their fine rescinded on the spot if they flag it up with the restaurant manager.
But Mrs O’Rourke pointed out that no ticket was placed on her car, so there was no reason to believe she had overstayed.
However, the MET Parking Services letter insists the maximum staying time is ‘prominently’ displayed at Weston Favell.
It says: “McDonalds have put time constraints in place for all motorists including paying customers to ensure there are adequate parking spaces for all customers.
“McDonalds are confident that 90 minutes is a sufficient amount of time for customers to order and consume food.
“However, they understand that delays do occasionally occur and, had you felt any delay would have led you to exceed the time constraint, you should have requested an exemption from the restaurant management at the time, who may have granted it depending on the circumstances.
“We can confirm, therefore, that the charge was issued correctly and we are upholding it.
“To avoid future parking charge notices, please ensure you always comply with the terms and conditions of parking and any restrictions that are in place when you park your car.”