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Driver pays £12 to park at UK airport – but suddenly realises he’s been stung £638 | UK | News

Driver pays £12 to park at UK airport - but suddenly realises he's been stung £638 | UK | News

A driver who had paid to park at a short stay facility within an airport was stunned to find he had been billed £638 for the privilege. The Huddersfield man, who only goes by the name of James, said he had paid £12 to leave his vehicle there for 50 minutes on May 15.

He had arrived at Manchester Airport’s terminal one short-stay car park to collect relatives. Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, James said: “It is an ANPR system, no tickets, no receipt, zero paper trail other than my bank statement.

“The charge should have been £12 on exiting the car park. I couldn’t clearly see the digital display on the exit gate pay machine, due the height, angle, and sun glare on it. But I thought, well I know it is £12 and inserted my card and PIN and left when the gate opened.”

Unaware of the exorbitant sum he had been charged, James said: “I thought I had paid £12 then I checked my bank statement the next day and saw the damage. I rang the bank because it said pending transaction.”

But he told the MEN how he had tried to get it resolved quickly, but found it hard to get past the automated system. 

“It referred me to their website with a complaint form to fill in, which I did immediately,” he said. “I received an automated reply saying do not reply your reference number is this – someone will get back to you. Then I waited for two weeks.”

He continued: “I went to the airport on a Wednesday and the transaction was pending on Thursday and went through on Friday. It is a lot of money to be out of pocket and is quite a random amount.

“How many other people has this happened to? I can’t be a one off case. It was a short term multi-storey car park near arrivals. I just drove in was asked if I had booked a place, explained I was only there for an hour and was directed to the second level and it is all ANPR.”

Following inquiries from the Manchester Evening News regarding the incident, James revealed that he had received an email from the airport stating his money had been refunded just an hour later.

In response to the incident, a spokesperson for Manchester Airport said: “We apologise to Mr Flack for the inconvenience caused by this technical error and have refunded him in full. We can reassure customers that issues of this nature are extremely rare and whenever they are brought to our attention, we rectify them immediately.”

The airport also released another statement clarifying the incident: “Our customer feedback team attempted to contact Mr Flack a number of times, including on the day he submitted his complaint, but due to a typo in the email address he submitted (‘hotmil’ rather than ‘hotmail’), it is possible that these messages did not reach him.

“We have processed a full refund of the £638.00 he paid, and as a goodwill gesture this includes the £12 parking charge that was due.”

James commented: “I filled in the complaint form twice – in one day. I noticed I had made an error with my email the first time so did it again and double checked it was correct. I’d like to thank the MEN for pursuing this for me because before they did I was getting nowhere.”

This is not an isolated case of exorbitant fees at Manchester Airport. In January 2023, a woman from Cheshire was hit with an eye-watering £580 bill for what should have been a brief £6 drop-off at Terminal One.

In her situation, the airport’s correspondence suggested the overcharge could have stemmed from the parking system failing to log the driver’s departure after a previous visit on December 23, leading to charges for ten days of parking. The airport looked into the issue, issued an apology, refunded the lady in question, and vowed to “review their systems to prevent a recurrence of the problem”.

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