I AM moved to write after overhearing an encounter between a gentleman who must be almost my age and the manager of this Lidl’s store this morning. 

The main difference between this gentleman and me is that he is on his own with no-one to help him. He was upset because of a Parkopedia penalty incurred because he had not checked his car out on one of the screens, and had searched in vain for a matching receipt. 

I have every sympathy, but the manager disclaimed any responsibility, warned the gentleman not to be abusive (he wasn’t), and effectively stated it was a matter for ‘them’, not him. 

It’s a sad reflection on Lidl’s PR policy that it apparently negates the principle that a complaint with a store should first be addressed to that store and its manager - a manager is there to manage and generally that is where the buck stops, surely?

A manager should surely want good customer relations if only for the success of the business?

This manager stated that the parking system was there because people abused the facility in order to walk into town (so why impose fines at times when the car parks are free?). The potential for abusing their car parking facilities must have been obvious to Lidl’s when they surveyed the site, and why penalise their customers?

It doesn’t take a mastermind to work out that a simple token system for exit, available at the tills, would work perfectly well and possibly be welcomed by customers as creating more room for them to park. 

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In the short term, since till operators are expected to recognise anyone under the age of 25, maybe they should ask people of pensionable age (for example) if they would welcome assistance, and offer them a brochure with guidance on how to avoid fines? 

I have known till operators give reminders to customers and am grateful, but that is not the same as offering assistance.

Lidl’s two stores in Taunton exemplify their apparent policy on store placement - adjacent to a ‘big four’ supermarket (Tesco), or to a deprived area (Roman Road). In both cases they will attract customers with budget challenges, pensioners, low incomes, harassed parents, limited learning, disabled. 

It is invidious that such people should fund a parking company with net assets of over £19 million.

The Lidl’s Castle Street store begs the question of how it obtained planning consent, with a steep access road, a sharp bend and an inadequate car park. 

West Somerset and Taunton Council could take a lead in ensuring that car parking payment systems are not ageist and designed to be user friendly to those who are challenged in some way - room for an enterprising councillor to take up a cause there.

And if anyone from Aldi is reading this, you know how to attract customers to your new Chip Lane store.