Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Waitrose Car Park Lost Ticket Charge: £25 Avoided!

Oh dear. I've had another spot of bother with the Waitrose, Richmond-Upon-Thames car park. But not the lift, the ticket machine or dangling pieces of metal. Something completely different. During my short time in the store, I discovered I had lost my car park ticket. Idiot. They wanted £25 out of me for the privilege of letting me drive out and settled for £15. This is what then happened.
                                                                                                                                                                        
Me to Waitrose on 01 February 2019 by -mail
Dear Team
1 On 25 January 2019 I was compelled to pay £15 to Waitrose, Richmond because I could not produce my car park ticket which I had lost in store. This was a reduction from the charge of £25 which, for the purposes of this complaint, I will treat as chargeable under the conditions of parking (but see below).
2 I entered the car park at 3.48 pm on 25 January 2019 having left a venue in Kingston-upon-Thames at approx. 3.30pm.
3 I had arranged to meet my partner inside Waitrose and to text her on my arrival at Waitrose. I duly texted her at 3.48 pm to state ‘I am at Waitrose’. I can produce the original text. She met me in Waitrose shortly thereafter.
4 Prior to 3.48 pm I had not been in Richmond and, in particular, in Waitrose, Richmond previously that day.
 5 We both shopped in Waitrose. At 4.30pm I paid £44.05 for goods and was issued with a receipt which I hold ref 000000055450 AID A0000000041010 App Seq 10. My partner made purchases for circa £25 immediately before me and at the same till.
 6 Upon realising that I could not locate my car park ticket I went straight to the customer service counter where the duty manager known to me only as ...... was called. I summarised my position and asked to be allowed to exit without making the £25 payment. I relied on the short time I had been in the car park; the fact that I was a long-standing Waitrose customer making substantial purchases on a weekly basis and that I had arrived in the car park directly from ‘work’ at Kingston at about 4pm. He indicated a willingness to reduce the charge to £15 after I insisted that he had a discretion in the matter bur refused to waive it completely or make a further reduction. 
7 I accept that Waitrose needs to be seen to take action in some cases to impose a reasonable lost ticket charge so that the public generally is not encouraged to falsely claim that their ticket has been lost and thereby potentially deprive legitimate and paying customers of the use of the car park and/or suffer lost revenue but, in my case, I submit that the charge in fact levied should not have been levied and was unfair because-
(A) I am and for many years have been a Partnership card holder my number being ............
(b) I was and for many years – not less than 40- had been a regular Waitrose and John Lewis customer (as had been my partner) and I observe, for example, that for the period 15 December 2018 to 13 January 2019 (and ignoring cash transactions) I entered into twelve separate credit card transactions on separate dates with Waitrose according to my Partnership card statement. On 30 January 2019 I received a set of discount vouchers from you which were described as my ‘exclusive reward for our most loyal customers’.
3 I have always previously paid the Waitrose car park charge when chargeable and never previously lost my ticket.
4 I had been in the car park on 25 January 2019 for approximately 30minutes as I have been able to establish.
5 It was or should have been evident to the duty manager that I was a bona fide user of the car park and had quite genuinely lost my ticket and credit should have been given to me for the loyalty I have shown to Waitrose and the value of the transaction which I had entered into that afternoon (ignoring the separate transaction of my partner). I produced my till receipt for inspection.  I invited the duty manager to view CCTV footage to verify the time of my arrival although the invitation was not taken up. 

Quite separately and apart from my submission that, in the particular circumstances, it was unfair for Waitrose to seek to rely on it strict ticket conditions, I submit that the lost ticket condition is extortionate and\or extravagant and should not be enforced and should be revised. I say this because the condition fails to reflect the maximum period for which a particular vehicle could in fact have been present in the car park. It requires payment of the same amount whether the lost ticket holder’s vehicle had been parked for 05 minutes (for example, where the car park had opened at 8.00 am and they have reported a lost ticket at 08.05 am) or for the day’s entire car park opening hours. 
If my request for a £15 refund is not met then I reserve my right to bring proceedings for the recovery of the at sum and a declaration that the condition is unlawful.
Yours sincerely
Stephen Gold

Me to Waitrose on 05 February 2019 by e-mail

THE EMAIL BELOW WAS TRANSMITTED TO YOU ON 01/02/19 AT 1649 AT EXECUTIVE TEAM@WAITROSE.CO.UK AND HAS NOT BEEN ACKNOWLEDGED. PLEASE ACKNOWLEDGE.
STEPHEN GOLD

Me to Waitrose on 11 February 2019 by e-mail
IS ANYBODY THERE OR HAS WAITROSE’S COMPLAINTS DEPARTMENT CEASED TO EXIST?  MY TWO EMAILS OF COMPLAINT BELOW HAVE BEEN IGNORED SO FAR.
STEPHEN GOLD

Me To Waitrose on 16 February 2019 by e-mail
FOURTH ATTEMPT AT SECURING AN ACKNOWLEDGMENT OR, BETTER  STILL, A DEFINITIVE REPLY. SO FAR, NOT A PEEP OUT OF YOU.

STEPHEN GOLD

Me To Waitrose on   February 2019 by post
Chief Executive

Waitrose
Doncastle Road
Bracknell
RG12 8YA
Dear Sir
Complaint
I have made four attempts at procuring some response from Waitrose on line to my complaint. I enclose downloads of my electronic messages to you. None of them has met with an acknowledgment, let alone a meaningful response. Do you find this acceptable?
Yours faithfully
Stephen Gold

Waitrose to me on 26 February 2019 by e-mail
Thanks for your letter Mr Gold addressed to our Managing Director, Rob Collins. He’s asked me to respond on his behalf. 
I am sorry you've had to chase this. After searching our system I was unable to find the emails you kindly copied in your letter. I am sorry but it appears we didn't receive these. I can see our Customer Care team did respond to your initial email on 19th January 2019, did you receive this?
I was sorry to read of your experience at our Richmond branch with your car park ticket. I would really like to give you a call to discuss this further. Please can you let me know a contact number and a convenient time to call? Alternatively please call me on tel: .... I am working until 2:30 today and back in the office tomorrow from 9:30 
Kind regards
Harriet 
Case Manager, Executive Office

Me to Waitrose on 26 February 2019 by e-mail
Dear Harriet 
Thank you for your message. Each of my emails was duly transmitted and never returned - and so deemed received - and not one was acknowledged. It follows that I had no response to my initial email. I find it curious that if it was acknowledged then it has not been followed up after this period of time. I fancy that something odd is going on - some form of ‘shredding’ perhaps - which you ought to be investigating.
I am heavily committed at work for the usual business hours for the rest of this week and next week is also difficult for me to call. In the circumstances, I shall be obliged if you will please write to me.
Kind regards
Stephen Gold

Waitrose to me on 27 February 2019 by e-mail
Good morning Mr Gold and thank you for your reply. I understand you are busy, I am more than happy to communicate via email.
I am sorry to read of your experience at our Richmond branch when you lost your car park ticket and how this was handled. I will pass on your feedback to the branch management team, who will review this with the manager on duty.

I would like to arrange for a £25 gift card to be sent to you as an apology. If you would accept this please can you reply confirming your full address so I can get this arranged.
Kind regards
Harriet 
Case Manager, Executive Office

Me to Waitrose on 27 February 2019 by e-mail
Dear Harriet
Thank you and noted. I would accept a £25 gift card as an apology and it can be sent to me at ....... I fancy it will be redeemed at another branch!
Kind regards
Stephen Gold

Waitrose to me on 28 February 2019 by e-mail
Thanks for your reply Mr Gold. I've arranged for a gift card to be sent. You should receive this in the next few days.

Sorry again for your experience, if I can help any further please let me know.
Kind regards
Harriet 
Case Manager, Executive Office

_______________________________________________________________

I am now holding the gift card in my grubby hands. Harriet was a sweetie, wasn't she? Different Waitrose stores seem to have different car parking rules. But no rule should impose a lost ticket or overstay charge which is exorbitant and management should know when to exercise the discretion to let you off with the verbal equivalent of a clip round the ear. After all, they are running a business and not a penal establishment. In some situations, the charge might just be legally challengeable (see my book Breaking Law on small print etc). May your Waitrose car park tickets be with you.