A Nice LIDL Earner!

Like Dear Customer Relations, our good friend Steve Crowley likes to stand up for the little guy against the big faceless corporations when they get too big for their boots.  On a visit to his local Lidl store at Yate, near Bristol, Steve witnessed a vulnerable pensioner appealing against a £90 fine they had sent him for accidentally contravening the recently imposed parking regulations.

Steve tried to intervene and urged the elderly gentleman not to pay – but he was too frightened and paid. Steve thought that was disgraceful (and you can agree with him by signing the petition at the bottom of this post – which will automatically send an email to the customer relations department at Lidl).

In the meantime, Steve had an idea.  He returned to Lidl, but at the checkout, he ‘forgot’ to tell them that he had used the car park.

A week later, he received his Civil Charge Notice from those nice people at Athena ANPR Ltd:

Lidl charge notice

It wasn’t very civil at all!

“Failure to pay the parking charge within the time period described may result in Athena ANPR transferring your case to a debt collection company or to further legal proceedings where additional costs may be incurred”, it said.

Athena ANPR are one of many such predatory companies who help businesses to make extra money from their parking areas.

Above is a ‘flow diagram’ which appears on the Athena website – the general message seems to be ‘cameras turn cars into cash’. Just in case you can’t work it out for yourself, underneath it says: “Find out how easy it is to install an ANPR system and how to gain an additional income stream from your assets”

So, it’s about money.  Plain and simple.  If you fall foul of it, those Lidl own brand baked beans aren’t going to be so cheap after all.

Anyway, back to the story. Steve had no intention of paying the fine of course and so he dropped a line to the Appeals section at Athena:

From: Steve Crowley
Sent: 10 April 2016 16:29
To: Appeals
Subject: Parking Charge Notice Number XXXXXXXXX

Dear Sirs

I write in reference to the above Civil Parking Charge Notice.

Please note the following points:

1. I do not believe I am liable to pay this fine. Please advise on what basis you believe I am liable to pay the charge. i.e. What is the charge actually for? Is it a fine? Is it legally enforceable? Is it for Lidl’s pecuniary losses arising from the fact I was parked in their car park?

2. I believe I had shopped at Lidl on the date of the alleged incident, during the times that my vehicle is alleged to have stayed at the car park. I believe that I bought among other things, a High School Musical magazine, and some toilet roll. And for the record, it’s not what you think – my daughter likes High School Musical, hence the magazine, and all members of my family use toilet roll.

Except my son. He uses his sister’s toothbrush.

I look forward to you addressing the above points and receiving confirmation that the Parking Charge has been withdrawn.

Kind regards.


Some 3 weeks later, Athena ANPR Ltd replied with this:

Dear Mr Crowley,

Thank you for your correspondence in regards to the above parking charge

We are contracted by the owner of the land to manage the site at which the parking event occurred and the charge was accrued.

Lidl customers are allowed a free parking time of 90 minutes provided vehicle registration numbers are tapped into a touch screen computer at the till. If these details are not entered or provided then a parking charge notice is generated.

Having checked our records your registration number was not on the list of shoppers for the day in question.

In order for us to further review your appeal we would firstly like to request if you have any proof of shopping for the day or for other dates in the form of a receipt or bank statement.

In closing we would like to thank you for contacting our customer service department and hope we can deal with this matter as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Kind Regards

For and on behalf of the Customer Service Team
Athena ANPR Ltd

The toothbrush gag evidently hadn’t been appreciated so in his second salvo, Steve added a nice drawing instead:

From: Steve Crowley
Sent: 19 April 2016 12:13
To: Appeals
Subject: RE: Parking Charge Notice Number XXXXXXXXXX

Many thanks for your email.

I am sure I have a receipt somewhere but cannot currently lay my hands on it.

I also note that you did not specifically respond to item 1. in my previous email. Please clarify on what basis the fine is being imposed.

Furthermore, you state that customers at Lidl may park for “90 minutes provided vehicle registration numbers are tapped into a touch screen computer at the till.”

I can only assume from your statement that the Lidl member of staff erred on this occasion and did not ask for or register correctly, my vehicle details. Am I still liable for the charge in this instance?

Lastly, whilst I cannot at this time, locate a receipt as proof of purchase, please find attached a picture that clearly proves I was shopping at Lidl at the time and date of the alleged offence. I trust you will now withdraw the fine.

Kindest regards.


lidl drawing

A few days later, Steve received another note from Athena ANPR:

Dear Mr Crowley,

Thank you for your email in regards to the above parking charge.
We can confirm that the above parking charge has been cancelled.

Kind Regards
For and on behalf of the Customer Service Team

Result! So, if you want to avoid paying your Lidl parking fine, send a nice drawing to Athena ANPR.

What Steve didn’t tell them of course was that he had kept the receipt all along (below)1 just in case  the fine was legally enforceable!

So he replied with this final email (you’ll note he did actually buy a High School Musical Magazine and some toilet roll – it wasn’t made up just for comedy effect) – He just wanted to rub it in that he had been wasting their time all along…

From: Steve Crowley
To: Appeals
Subject: RE: Parking Charge Notice Number XXXXXXXXXX

Many thanks for your email. I am pleased you have cancelled the fine.

I have now located the receipt showing that I had indeed shopped at the date and time of the alleged offence. What are the chances of me finding it after all this time???

Kindest regards


The old gentleman that Steve saw fined was not the only one. The net is awash with stories of similar tales (a few examples below). 

Since appearing on Dear Customer Relations, Steve’s unusual method for avoiding paying the charge went well and truly viral, appearing on the websites of the Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, Sun, Star and YouTube. Sadly though, it is unlikely to change Lidl’s behaviour.

You can though. Help us stop this abuse of customers by Lidl.

Please consider signing the petition below to automatically send an email to the Lidl Customer Relations Department (your surname will not be shown here and your details will not be shared under any circumstances).

Please also share this post as widely as you can on Twitter and Facebook so we get something done and more vulnerable elderly people don’t fall victim.

Thank you!

A Nice LIDL Earner - Stop the Parking Fines!

Dear Lidl,

Please stop fining your customers for falling foul of the ridiculous parking restrictions introduced at many of your UK stores. It is a money-making scam and not worthy of a reputable retailer. It exploits your customers, including vulnerable and elderly pensioners who are in no position to pay the unjustifiable fines.

%%your signature%%

Share this with your friends:


Below, some of the latest signatories. Thank you.

Latest Emails Sent By:
1,099 Mr. Andrew M. Reading Aug 18, 2022
1,098 Ms. Peter K. Reading Jul 26, 2022
1,097 Mr Steven E. Birmingham Nov 17, 2021
1,096 Mr Philip R. Crawley Nov 13, 2021
1,095 Mrs Larisa B. Leatherhead Oct 05, 2021
1,094 Mr Lee m. Derby Oct 04, 2021
1,093 Ms Ron F. Ipswich Jun 19, 2021
1,092 Mr James L. Bexleyheath Oct 02, 2020
1,091 Mrs Helen S. Glasgow Mar 21, 2020
1,090 Mrs Claire B. Scunthorpe Feb 21, 2020
1,089 Dr. Rebecca H. Norwich Feb 06, 2020
1,088 Mr Stephen T. Mirfield Jan 23, 2020
1,087 Mr Adrian S. Huddersfield Jan 21, 2020
1,086 Mrs Ann S. Stockport Dec 11, 2019
1,085 Miss Emily I. Goole Dec 06, 2019
1,084 Ms Donald S. Richmond Dec 02, 2019
1,083 Ms Doreen S. birmingham Nov 16, 2019
1,082 Ms Richard W. Sevenoaks Nov 12, 2019
1,081 Mr Muhammad A. Bradford Oct 06, 2019
1,080 Mr burt w. Wednesbury Sep 18, 2019
1,079 Ms Lindsey C. Luton Sep 18, 2019
1,078 Ms Sara H. London Sep 05, 2019
1,077 Ms H K. London Aug 27, 2019
1,076 Mr Timothy N. Morden, Greater London Borough of Merton, UK Aug 25, 2019
1,075 Ms Robert H. Liverpool Aug 20, 2019
1,074 Mr Geoffrey H. Orpington Aug 19, 2019
1,073 Mr David G. Bristol Jul 15, 2019
1,072 Ms Andrea S. Tonbridge Jul 12, 2019
1,071 Ms Jeffrey R. Wellingborough NN9 Jun 26, 2019
1,070 Dr. Istvan B. Bromley Jun 10, 2019
1,069 Mr michael a. northants. Jun 05, 2019
1,068 Mrs Ann E. Worthing SX BN11 May 24, 2019
1,067 Mr George S. London May 20, 2019
1,066 Ms Beatrice T. south cerney May 19, 2019
1,065 Ms Jo S. Milton Keynes May 05, 2019
1,064 Mrs Deborah H. BUCKINGHAM May 03, 2019
1,063 Dr. Ele S. East Malling Apr 23, 2019
1,062 Mr Ian G. Poole Apr 09, 2019
1,061 Ms Christine L. East Cowes Apr 04, 2019
1,060 Mr Mike P. Bedford Mar 27, 2019
1,059 Mr Oscar G. HOOK Mar 21, 2019
1,058 Mr Robert S. Mar 19, 2019
1,057 Mrs Margaret H. Kent Mar 15, 2019
1,056 Mr Andrew R. Bicester Mar 11, 2019
1,055 Mr Ross W. okehampton Mar 04, 2019
1,054 Mr richard r. portsmouth Mar 02, 2019
1,053 Mrs Linda H. Hainault Feb 12, 2019
1,052 Mr gavin d. Scunthorpe Feb 09, 2019
1,051 Ms peter w. bristol Feb 07, 2019
1,050 Ms Mohammed I. Birmingham Feb 04, 2019

  1. That’s an awful lot of carbohydrate Steve 

3 thoughts on “A Nice LIDL Earner!”

  1. Sent this to Lidl who went silent.
    Dear Ashley,
    Athena ANPR is registered in the UK at Companies House as a call centre. They are not licenced in England to issue PCN’s and do not hold a consumer credit licence to collect debt in England. The UK is not a landmass or a sovereign nation. Companies registered in the UK cannot operate in England which is a landmass and sovereign nation. They are operating illegally.

  2. I am just about to write a complaint email. Myself and my mentally ill brother went into lidls to do our shopping which we must do atleast twice a day Evey day. Halfway around we heard a loud voice shouting . you stop put your shopping down and leave . you smell of drugs!! . I was the other side of the isle and my poor brother did not no wot to do. I said to her excuse me? She repeated again. My brother was freaking and hyperventilating by thus time I was absolutely mortified and shakingly took us both outside. We was in shock. We are both middle aged. My brother & myself suffer with terrible anxiety which is why we shop together for support. I went to the police which was closed I shall be going first thing tomorrow morning. To top it I found this person on social media and she eas boasting about going into work to kick ass and take no shit.


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