A MAN who popped into a Chinese takeaway for a £2.50 spring roll ended up with a £200 bill after clampers pounced.
Patrick Gomes, 59, of Cumberland Drive, Laindon, was outraged when he left Good Food, at Station Gate, to find he had been caught by clampers.
He had parked in a bay by the side of the shops, but had not realised it was reserved for tenants of flats above.
He went into the takeaway to get a spring roll for his wife, but when he came out minutes later, he found his dark blue Citreon had been clamped by wardens from Parking Services.
He said: “I have lived in Laindon for 25 years and parked there loads of times before. I just parked in the first space available. You would think spaces by a row of shops would be for customers. It’s ridiculous.
“I ended up forking out £200 when all I wanted was a £2.50 spring roll. When I finally got home I told my wife, to make sure she savoured it.”
After ringing Parking Services’ head office, Mr Gomes was told its credit card machine was broken and he’d have to pay cash.
He went to the nearby cash machine and withdrew the £200 required to release his car.
Mr Gomes added: “If you pay by credit card, then there is a chance you could appeal and get your money back, but with cash there is no comeback.
“Luckily I had just been paid that day, but a lot of people would struggle to pay such a steep fine on the spot.”
A taxi driver who works for United and Station Cars, based at Station Gate, said previous warning signs about clamping had been vandalised, with replacement signs being put above eye-level.
The driver, who asked not to be named, said: “I know a lot of people have been caught out. The parking wardens are here very sporadically and sometimes we don’t see them for weeks at a time. It seems to be a case of bad luck.
“The release fee seems very excessive and unfair.”
A new law is due to come into force that will ban the clamping and towing of vehicles from private property, unless there is specific lawful authority.
The Protection of Freedom Act was passed by MPs in May, but the new rules do not come into force until October 1.
Parking Services was unable to comment.