"Told by staff not to worry about parking- now being sued for £150"

About: Sunderland Royal Hospital / Accident and emergency

(as the patient),

Outrage over private car parks' self imposed fines for losses is nothing new. However,  we are not people who overstayed in a 'free' shopping centre car park. We are a couple who rushed to Sunderland Royal's A&E in the middle of the night and had the audacity to not ensure we had correct change for parking before attending to our emergency.  We tried to pay but the system makes it impossible for those in late night emergency situations to actually pay. And now Parking Eye is taking us to court for £ 150 plus costs.

We were advised by 111 to go to the nearest A&E immediately. After being discharged, we tried to pay for the extra hour we were in with a consulting surgeon. We only had a few pence so we went back inside to use the hospital's cash machine. Then we discovered the parking meters do not take notes or cards. We spent 15 minutes trying to find  anything that was open to break the £20 note the cash machine gave us (and this 15 minutes was added to our time using the car park). Everything was closed.

We asked every hospital employee we saw for help but were finally told by a woman at the A&E front desk to leave it because it had nothing to do with the hospital.  So we did.

We have now received a summons through small claims court on behalf of Parking Eye for £ 150 plus court costs. I just feel disgusted.  We tried everything we could to pay for parking and we are being faced with a fine we can't pay. All because we didn't have correct change at 1am. If the hospital is going to insist upon leasing their carparks to predatory companies like Parking Eye, they need to make sure that there are reasonable methods of payment. People rushing to the hospital in the middle of the night should not have to be penalized so outrageously for not bringing their coin purses.

Parking Eye claims that they are suing for losses they incurred by us not adhering to the contract we entered into upon entering the car park. But how on earth can we be expected to adhere to this silent contract if they make it impossible to do so? We did not spend an extra 15 minutes in ALDI- we went to the A&E in the middle of the night seeking help and instead have been let down by Sunderland Royal's A&E and are now expected to pay for this in the sum of £150.

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