A shopper who received a parking fine in a Sydney Aldi car park has sparked furious debate after sharing the controversial reason he opted against buying a ticket before doing his groceries.
Georgie Balamoan parked in the Bankstown supermarket's car park, owned by a parking company and not Aldi, on March 24. Due to concerns over touching the ticket machine, he chose not to purchase a ticket.
Unsurprisingly, when he returned to his vehicle less than an hour later, there was a Parking Breach Notice attached to his windshield, notifying him that he was required to pay a $55 penalty fee.
Mr Balamoan tried disputing the fine, citing inadequate protective and sanitisation equipment available at the machine, but was rejected.
"You have failed to create a safe environment for me to obtain a ticket from your vending machine. It does however appear that other such companies have taken the public's safety much more seriously," part of his rebuttal letter read.
He argued there were Covid-19 restrictions in place inside the Bankstown Aldi on the day of his visit and claimed it was "irresponsible if not dangerous" to not provide hygiene products at the machine.
A response from parking management company Parking Enforcement Services refused Mr Balamoan's request to waive the fine because his vehicle did "not display a valid ticket" and was therefore "in breach of the Conditions of Entry" of the car park.
"Tickets must be displayed at all times for both free and paid parking transactions. There is substantial informative and directional signage within the carpark," part of the letter, shared with Yahoo News Australia, read.
Shoppers should bring their own hygiene products
Taking to Aldi's Facebook page this week, Mr Balamoan argued he was well within his right not to buy a ticket given there was no hygiene equipment available at the machine.
Some agreed hygiene considerations should have been place, while others said it was up to each individual to carry their own sanitiser and wipes.
"Take your own wipes! Not really Aldi’s responsibility as they don‘t own the car park as you pointed out in your post ... most people would take on the responsibility of doing what is right for them," one person wrote.
"Just another example of an adult not acting like an adult and taking responsibility for their own health/well being and expecting to be treated like a five-year-old at kindy," another said.
Someone else said Mr Balamoan's experience was "another example of Aldi not caring for their loyal customers".
Refusal to pay could result in court case
Another person claimed they expressed a similar concern about a Coles car park and had their fine withdrawn.
Mr Balamoan has had his fine increased to $65 since his original complaint and has maintained that he will continue to refuse to pay it, even if Parking Enforcement Services takes him to court.
Not paying parking fines issued by private companies technically is not illegal, however individuals may be subject to a lengthy legal battle if they refuse to pay them.
A spokesperson for Parking Enforcement Services told Yahoo News Australia that users of its private car parks could pay for parking tickets using a phone app.
"All of our meter parking sites are accessible via mobile app ParkMate, which enables customers a way to park without touching the payment machines on site," they said in a statement.
"To ensure that this alternative is truly accessible, we’ve removed any additional booking fees for customers to use the app, so the parking rates are the same as paying for parking on site.
"It should also be noted that our staff regularly clean the machines as a part of our plan to minimise risk of COVID-19 transmission."
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