NEW UPDATE: Aldi answers car park critics
SECOND UPDATE: An Aldi Australia spokeswoman says the police are acting on their own discretion if they book people for illegal parking in its Gympie store car park.
A shopper who was booked for parking illegally in the car park says police told him the store had rung them and asked for action.
The retail firm says it does not have a policy of calling the police to act against customers.
UPDATE: ALDI Australia says its alleged "call the cops” policy on illegal use of its car park is important for customer safety.
And a company representative said the problem was a by-product of shop's rapidly growing popularity.
But the company says problems from overcrowding in its car park will will soon be solved.
"We recognise that the number of shoppers visiting our Gympie store has grown considerably in recent years, putting pressure on parking,” the representative said.
"Customer safety is important to us and as such, we have made it a priority to improve the carpark.
"We expect the extension to the carpark, which is currently under construction, to be complete in November.
"In addition to the carpark extension, we have also installed bollards in areas where we currently have 'No Parking' signs to prevent illegal parking and the implementation of a one-way traffic system in a section of the car park.
"Local police regularly patrol the carpark at ALDI Gympie and surrounding areas at their own discretion, and any fines issued are a police matter.”
EARLIER: CUSTOMERS at Aldi's Gympie store have been shocked to find themselves targeted for parking fines - in the shop's car park.
Most were aware they were parking on an area marked with "no parking” yellow lines and stripes, but thought they would get a warning from the shop before police were called.
Some also said that when the legal spaces were all taken up, they had no alternative but to park illegally or shop elsewhere.
"It's a town planning issue,” said disgruntled customer and fine recipient Tony Jakeman.
He said he and his wife had received a $50 fine notice in the mail. "That was the first we heard of it,” he said.
"They increased the size of the shop and took some of the car parking spaces.
"I've heard of pensioners whose budget has been seriously affected.
"With the high price of electricity and rent, parking here is a nightmare sometimes and the fine hurts them.”
One of those pensioners told The Gympie Times last week he had serious mobility problems and had to park near the store entrance.
He said the only three disabled car parks were full and he had little option but to park on the yellow lines next to them.
As with Mr Jakeman, he said the ticket claimed he had parked illegally in Hyne St.
"Hyne St? I had to look it up,” Mr Jakeman said. He said police told him Aldi had asked for enforcement of parking restrictions in its car park.
"This is their flagship store per square metre,” he said.
"The problem is planning. There is not enough car parking, especially for people travelling in RVs or with caravans. They've got to shop too.”
But not everyone agreed when customers were surveyed in the car park Thursday morning.
"They know they're parking illegally. Name them and shame them,” one said, declining to give her name.
Amber Walkerden said she was not a regular customer at Aldi but had found it impossible to park legally when she came in shopping with a trailer on the back.
"We're moving house and we came in to get cleaning supplies and there was nowhere to park.
"We ended up going to Woolworths.”
At the same time, work has started to solve the problem, with a big car park extension now under construction (but still probably months away).
"I got one too,” said Helke Nicholas of her parking penalty.
"I think we were taken advantage of when the cranes were here and there was no room to park.
"You could always get a park here before.
"We shop here all the time, but since we got a ticket we've been warning people we see parking here.
"It's a brilliant shop, but this is an unmitigated disaster,” Mr Jakeman said.
A comment is being sought from Aldi.