A Perth Westfield has come under fire for introducing a premium rate for the most desirable car spaces a week before Christmas.
Westfield Innaloo has marked eight of its undercover parking bays as “Prime Parking”, allowing customers to book and take the top spots for a fee.
Prime Parking was originally advertised for $5 for Westfield members and $7 for non-members, but on Saturday the shopping centre announced the spots were now a flat fee of $5 regardless of membership, WA Today reported.
The initiative was sold as a “quick and convenient” solution for shoppers fighting their way through crowded car parks during the last shopping days of Christmas, but locals have labelled the move “disgraceful”.
“Looks like I’ll be shopping at Karrinyup instead. There’s barely enough parking as it is without closing off more sections and charging,” one local wrote on social media.
“Disgraceful. Shame on Westfield Innaloo for cashing in on desperate customers at Christmas,” another person said.
A few people said the “Prime Parking” spots located close to the entrance were simply taking advantage of those with mobility issues who usually parked there for free.
“Taking advantage of those who can’t walk very far, like the elderly. Unbelievably rude,” a Facebook user added.
“That spot was great for parents with prams. I always parked there. $5!? What a rort. Sneaky bastards set this up just before the Xmas rush,” one mother wrote.
“Do my shopping twice a week and park here (large family) with my youngest boy, I'm disgusted, so many parents, senior and disabled parking down here. I'll definitely be letting centre management know how I feel. Taking advantage of people that need it the most.”
A spokesperson for Scentre Group, the parent company of Westfield, defended the shopping centre’s decision to charge for the parking spots.
“Christmas is our busiest time of year and making parking safe, easy and convenient is important to our customers,” she told WA Today.
“Prime Parking is an optional service with only 8 car spaces available. For those customers interested in the added convenience in the final days before Christmas, they can simply visit the Westfield Innaloo website and schedule their visit.”
The spaces in the “Prime Parking” area used to have a time limit of 30 minutes, according to WA Today.
Yahoo News Australia has contacted Westfields for comment.
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