A South Norwood businessman has been celebrating a victory for common sense, after BP dropped the threat of a £100 fine for using the forecourt of its Mitcham Road petrol station to park his car while… he was shopping in the petrol station and using its car wash.
Inside Croydon last week reported on the heavy-handed threats from BP’s contactor, an organisation called MET Parking Services, which had used CCTV records and sent official-looking letters to Guy Clapperton in a saga stretching back almost four months.
They seemed to suggest that Clapperton had parked up in the north of Croydon while picking up some chums from their flight into Gatwick Airport, some 20 miles away.
The threat was clear: cough up 60 quid now, or we’ll up the fine to £100. And when Clapperton wrote to BP, there was seemingly no right of appeal.
Clapperton, however, was not so easily bullied into parting with his cash when all he had been doing was paying for some shopping, fuel and getting his car cleaned at the BP-badged facility.
And then, earlier this week, someone called Marta at BP’s customer care department emailed the erstwhile customer to show that someone at BP does actually care.
“Dear Guy,” she wrote. “Sorry for the delay in replying. Your parking ticket fee has been cancelled by the Store Manager. Have a great day!”
Clapperton told Inside Croydon that he thinks the publicity that his case attracted probably helped nudge BP to do something more than rely on its cut-and-paste, one-size-fits-all response system.
“My thanks to Marta at BP who decided the automated response wasn’t good enough and pushed for this on my behalf,” he said.
“Also to Inside Croydon – Marta was already working on it but I’m sure the attention couldn’t have hurt.”
Clapperton’s case has highlighted a potential threat to all customers of BP and Marks and Spencer (who operate the forecourt store at the Mitcham Road garage). Beware of hidden parking charges if your business with the store and the garage takes more than 30 minutes.
Signs around the forecourt suggest that BP’s contractors are lying in wait to try to snare unwitting customers with a £100 surcharge on their shopping.
So either make your getaway from your next visit to BP inside 29 minutes or, like Clapperton, be prepared to stand up to the bullying of big business and fight your corner.
The third option is not to use BP petrol stations at all while they exercise such a heavy-handed approach to customers.
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