A Harvester restaurant has been forced to apologise after thousands of pounds worth of parking tickets were issued to unsuspecting customers.
The Mallard, next to Hemel Hempstead Station, has long been a free-parking restaurant as long as drivers enter their details into a machine and leave within four hours.
But scores of punters have been left horrified in recent months after receiving an invoice of £100 for using the restaurant-owned car park – despite keying in their details correctly.
It turns out that The Mallard had struck a deal with private parking company Absolute Parking Management (APM) and letters were sent out automatically.
“I was very upset,” said Valerie Marsdon, 82, who was enjoying a wedding anniversary meal with some friends when she was stung.
“I was already upset because my cat was poorly and then this – it seems like a scam.
“I don’t want my money back, I just want things to be right. It shouldn’t happen like this.”
Kelly Sleigh, whose husband was hit with the fine, described it as “horrendous”, Kim Wilson said it is “unbelievable.”
A spokesman for the restaurant chain said: “We apologise for any upset this has caused any of our guests.
“We are both concerned and disappointed at the number of guests who have been affected by the car parking fines.
“Unfortunately, this car parking arrangement was previously agreed at a local level and is not standard practice across Harvester restaurants. We would like to reassure our guests that we are working as quickly as we can to resolve this situation.”
Anyone who has been affected is asked to appeal the decision with APM or to call 0121 498 7098 to make a complaint.