Posted inCommunity Voices

Viewpoint: Why won’t Morrisons tell customers the dates when their car park rules changed TWICE in six weeks?

a car park
Morrisons' car park in Cwmbran Credit: Cwmbran Life

Morrisons changed the rules for people using its car park in Cwmbran on two occasions over the last few months. You may be annoyed about the new rules but did you know they changed them within a month or two?

Cwmbran Life is supposed to publish facts and I do this by asking questions and checking things.

‘At some point over the last few months’ and ‘within a month or two’ are rubbish lines to read on a new website. Readers want to know the facts, and actual dates.

Following this story in February, after readers spotted the signs had been changed to introduce a ten-minute limit ‘outside store opening hours’, I received a lot of messages from disgruntled drivers who had received a letter in the post asking them to pay £100.

a parking enforcement sign
The signs in the car park now warn about the 10-minute limit

Morrisons told me  “We can confirm that we have introduced a new 10-minute limit in our car park between the hours of 11pm-5am whilst the store is closed. New signs were introduced in advance to make customers aware of the changes before they took effect.”

But this led to more upset messages from people who said they had been sent a penalty notice for being in the car park for longer than ten minutes but under three hours. One driver popped in late one evening to get a takeaway from Pizza Hut.

And don’t get me started on how they told customers there was a rule change. Yep, all they did was change signs. Do you check the signs every time you drive in Morrisons car park? I would have happily popped a story on Cwmbran Life to let people know that from a certain date and time there would be new rules in place.

But all they did was put up new signs. Thanks for being so open and transparent over something that could lead to skint customers getting a letter asking for £100.

Seven upset drivers

These are the arrival and departure times of seven drivers who received letters. I sent these to Morrisons.

  1. On 13 Jan the driver arrived at 20.15:06 and left at 23.00:57
  2. On 5 Feb the driver arrived at 16.25:34 and left at 18.49:19
  3. On 13 Jan the driver arrived at 20:31:37 and left at 22:43:11
  4. On 8 Jan the driver arrived at 17:13:37 and left at 18:22:05
  5. On 22 Jan the driver arrived at 18:12:48 and left at 19:14:41
  6. On 15 Jan the driver arrived at 17:52:50 and left at 20:31:57
  7.  On 6 Dec the driver arrived at 22:07:58 and left at 23:06:34

I asked Morrisons to tell me when the rules were changed. Surely, it would be a simple question to answer.

There must be a single date and time that everything was in place, signs were up and Euro Car Parks were given the green light to send out penalty notices.

No. There isn’t a date. I asked several times saying that it would be very useful to inform readers of the date and time the rules came into force. Nope.

All those cases above seem to show (in my view) that those drivers followed the rules highlighted in their first statement. All of them were outside 11pm to 5pm and had parked for less than three hours. Did the no 1 on the list get a £100 letter for being in the car park at 57 seconds past 11pm?

The plot thickens

After asking several times for an actual date, Morrisons told me: “The changes were made at the end of last year and the signs clearly communicated the changes.

“Earlier this month (February) we made some improvements and extended the hours by which customers could stay in the car park for three hours – the 10min rule now only applies between 11.00pm and 5.00am.”

So here is their second rule change and again there is no date of when this was brought in. They said that the ten-minute rule started “at the end of last year” so what does that mean? Was it the 1 Dec or the 31 Dec?

Some would think it may have been November. Who knows? What does ‘end of last year’ mean?

Then at some date in February, they decided to change them again and “extended” the hours so the new ten-minute rule would only apply to drivers who arrived between 11pm and 5am.

I’m guessing this change was following a flurry of upset customers. Who knows?

Call customer services and dispute your penalty

The supermarket sent me the number of their customer service team and advised anyone who feels they have been wrongly sent a letter to call. My advice is to get on the phone and raise some of the issues here. Even if you’ve paid the £100 (or £60 for early payment), get on the phone and talk to them. If the rules changed just over a month after being introduced, and you have paid, ask them for refund.

They must have felt something was unfair to make another rule change so quickly.

Call 0345 611 6111.

Free parking in Cwmbran

A reader has sent me some planning application documents that included information about parking on this site. I just haven’t had time to properly read them and follow up so bear with me. Watch this space.

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Viewpoint: Why won’t Morrisons tell customers the dates when their car park rules changed TWICE in six weeks?