Wednesday, December 19, 2007

McDonalds sends you a honking big bill if you park too long at the restaurant.

Seen at BoingBoing:

Extracts from
McDonalds drive-through customers get 45-minute time limit
Enforcement firm issues £125 bills for overstaying

Steven Morris for The Guardian, December 11, 2007

The question of just how long it should take to eat fast food is being answered by the burger giant McDonald's, which is making customers finish within 45 minutes or face a charge of £125.

If they do not pay, the fee rises steadily and customers are threatened with court action and approached by bailiffs.

Many supermarkets and restaurants are handing over the management of their car parks to companies which use number plate recognition cameras to log when people enter and leave.

If they stay too long, the details of the registered keeper of the vehicle are obtained from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), and he or she is billed.

An elderly Wiltshire couple were recently berated by Tesco after taking too long to do their Christmas shopping at the supermarket.

One motorist, Jamie Thomson, told the Guardian of his experience at a McDonald's near Gatwick: "I ordered a burger, chips, a doughnut, coke and coffee. I sat in my car eating my lunch, and listening to the radio. After eating, I continued to sip my coffee for a time, and ate my doughnut." He says he was in his car for about an hour.

Several weeks later, he received a letter from Civil Enforcement demanding £125, or £75 if the charge was paid quickly. At first Thomson, a businessman from Sussex, did not even realise that he was being charged for spending too long at McDonald's, as the notice gave only a partial address.

When he remembered his visit to McDonald's, Thomson asked Civil Enforcement for photographic proof of his "offence", but was told he would have to pay for a photo.

McDonald's told Thomson that the use of "enforcement methods" happened only in "extreme" circumstances.

The company added: "At this restaurant we have stipulated that a member of the public may be parked for 45 minutes unless permission is given to stay longer by the duty manager."

Thomson's charge has risen to £213. He has been threatened with court action and received a letter from a debt collection company.



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