Car park fury continues: “I’ll never visit Fantasy Island again”

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Customers are continuing to lodge complaints against a car park in Skegness with some saying they will never visit Fantasy Island again because of their experiences.

As previously reported, multiple drivers claimed back in June to have been issued inaccurate fines at the main car park at Fantasy Island on Sea Lane.

Some alleged they received fines despite having ‘valid tickets’ and people were unhappy at what they believed to be a ‘faulty’ ticket machine, with many struggling to get hold of car park operator Smart Parking.

Another five concerned customers contacted Lincolnshire Reporter this month alone as complaints continue to mount against Smart Parking, including a man who emailed his grievances to Fantasy Island.

‘I will never visit again’

Steve Sidell visited Fantasy Island for the first time with his children in August. Although they enjoyed that part of the visit, the car park ruined his stay, he said

He said he spent over £200 including fuel, and tickets and food on site at Fantasy Island, but he was left feeling angry about the way the car park company is “trying to steal money from us on your behalf”.

Steve said: “Thanks to Smart Parking I will never visit Fantasy Island Skegness again, Smart Parking have cost you around £1600 from me.”

He said the day went well, with his children enjoying the rides and he had initially planned to return after feeling it was good value for money and worth the visit, but then things changed.

Steve added: “Just under a month later we received a nasty, threatening letter from Smart Parking demanding that we pay for an alleged parking infringement. We had travelled about three hours to visit the park. I parked on Fantasy Island’s main car park directly next to the park and did purchase a ticket for the £6 for all day.

“The car park ticket machine would only accept the first four digits (and then the buttons stopped working) of the registration number which will be stored on their system. I would think it is quite easy to match up half a registration number purchased within 15 minutes of us arriving.

“I have appealed the fine and have just received a reply back still demanding more money for a ticket that I had already purchased, even though the purchased ticket does show on their system as it was not the complete number apparently that does not count which is ridiculous and unfair.

“I am now having second thoughts about ever visiting Fantasy Island again unless this get resolved.”

Other recent complaints

Frank Earp from Nottingham received a parking charge notice from Smart Parking last month and said photos on the letter show they left the car park within the three hour time frame.

He said: “This car park has been our regular parking place for this part of the visit for a number of years now. On this occasion I found that parking charges had changed and I must admit that I struggled to understand the instructions on and by the meters.

“As our intended stay was for between 3 and 4 hours, (trying to follow instructions) I put into the machine £1 and £2 coins to the value of £6 or £7  and received a ticket. I do remember that someone by the machine commented that I had overpaid!”

M King from Derby also contacted Lincolnshire Reporter saying they had a parking fine after visiting in May despite paying £6 for a ticket, which they no longer have as it wasn’t thought it would still be needed.

M King said: “We have since been threatened by a debt collector and threatened with court! We are not paying as we know we paid the parking. We are from derby and know of more people having the same problem. Shame for Skeg as we won’t be going again! We wait our day in court with Smart Parking! Not so smart!”

A reviewer said they had reported the parking firm. Photo: Google review of Smart Parking

Council: “Nothing we can do”

Although the car park is privately owned reporters asked East Lindsey District Council how many complaints they had received about Smart Parking and if there was anything that could be done.

A spokesperson for the council said: “Around 10 members of the public have been in touch with our car parks team about this – primarily, we believe, because the private car park has a similar name to one we run.

“Unfortunately, as it is a privately run off-street car park, there’s nothing we can do. Our advice to the public would be to try and contact the operator of the car park directly.”

British Parking Association investigations

Many struggled to get through to the car park operator Smart Parking, which issues the fines, and Lincolnshire Reporter also contacted them numerous times via email and phone without success before speaking with the British Parking Association, who launched an investigation into the firm.

After the initial investigation British Parking Association inspectors found Smart Parking did not breach its code of practice.

Reporters responded to the BPA regarding the outcome, pointing out that one of the main issues at the car park appears to be that signs are displaying one price per hour, then people are getting letters with prices different to this.

Sam Buckenham received a letter from Smart Parking about the fine. Photo: Sam Buckenham

Photo: Sam Buckenham

Customers, Sam Buckenham, said his appeal was rejected despite photos of the main board stating £3 all day and £1 for one hour.

The letter he received also mentions different tariffs of £1.50 for an hour, which is contrary to what was advertised on the car park signs and the BPA were asked to take this into consideration.

A second investigation was launched and it was again concluded there has been no breach of code of practice.

Reporters have also contacted Fantasy Island, Trading Standards and Lincolnshire Police about the matter, but there was no response by the time of publication.

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