A couple are warning other shoppers after a trip to a Wigan budget store ended in them being hit with a court fine.
Steve and Marion Calland contested a parking charge issued by Parking Eye on behalf of The Range.
However, the company pursued the Callands through Wigan County Court for non-payment of £100 charge for overstaying in their car park by just over an hour.
The long-running legal wrangle began when Marion Calland and her mum, also called Marion, visited the Chapel Lane store in search of fancy decorations a cake.
Marion, who was making her very first visit to the shop, says she didn’t spot the warning signs threatening prosecution if her vehicle over stayed the two hour parking time limit.
Because mother and daughter went to the shop’s cafe, they ended up staying an hour over the permitted time.
Despite presenting receipts to the Range proving they were in store, the company insisted they pay up.
Marion and Steve were landed with a £180 fine and costs after a hearing at Wigan County Court.
They claim the charge is “excessive” and say they didn’t spot any of the warning signs.
But a spokesman for The Range’s parking enforcement contractors, Parking Eye, insisted there were more than a dozen signs explaining the parking policy.
Marion’s husband Steven said he wanted to speak out to warn other shoppers about the cost of breaching the two hour only parking restriction.
Steven, of Abbey Lane, Leigh, claims the company’s response has been “totally out of all proportion” and have now asked their ward councillor, Anita Thorpe, to take up the case.
He said: “I want this publicised to warn others because I would never want anyone to have a go through what we have. It is an unbelievable amount to have to pay considering my wife and her disabled mum were genuine customers who went there to shop, have the evidence to show that they did just that and spent the entire three hours inside the store.
“This is the sort of money that a genuine criminal would face for committing a genuine criminal act - we just can get over it.
“It is not as if our parking over the time limit was keeping other shoppers out of space who could have been spending money there.
“It was afternoon and midweek and the car park was well over three quarters empty.
“I have been in touch with the Citizens Advice Bureau about mounting a counter claim because I have been told that I have grounds for a case.”
Mr Calland acknowledged that during the hearing it was stated that the costs and fine had risen dramatically, almost tripling from the original figure, because he and his wife had allegedly ignored earlier warning letters to pay up. But he had insisted to the judge sitting at the hearing that they had never received them.
He added: “We asked Parking Eye to reconsider because it was a disabled woman being taken out for a treat - a day’s shopping, for goodness sake, and to look at it from a humanitarian point of view.”