You can play all day but you can’t park all day. Chipmunks Playland & Café customers at Chapel St shopping Centre have been receiving fines of up to $85 for exceeding the shopping centre’s carparking limits.
It’s not Chipmunks dishing out these fines however.
Chapel St Shopping Centre, or Bay Central Shopping Centre, is owned by Auckland-based company, Stride Property Services which decides how the carparking at the centre works.
Reaching out to the company, a spokesperson for the Bay Central Shopping Centre says: “Bay Central Shopping Centre is committed to ensuring fair access to parking spaces so more shoppers can visit local businesses within our premises”.
“To achieve this, we have set 180-minute parking time limits on our premises, with designated 90-minute spaces available in front of Wet & Forget, Anytime Fitness and Briscoes.”
One Chipmunk customer, who wishes to remain anonymous, was issued a parking fine after parking at the back of Chipmunks Playland & Café.
They received the fine 10 days later with a fee of $65, and if not paid within 21 days the fine would be $85.
“It was a teachers’ only day at school, so I had organised with many other families from school to meet at Chipmunks for the day and to have a big play day with all their friends.”
The customer says they were aware the shopping centre had parking limits but didn’t realise this extended to Chipmunks.
“Chipmunks is not always somewhere you take your kids for only an hour or two. Mine like to play hard all day…Chipmunks also sells food and seems to be a business designed to stay for hours if you want to.
“The fine was a lot of money for us, and not something I could afford to pay.”
Luckily, the owner of Chipmunks Playland & Café has been getting her customers’ fines waived and this customer did not have to pay.
“They send their picture of the infringement and I send it to the landlord [Stride Property Services] and they get it voided,” says Monique.
This is “quite a lot” of extra admin for the business owner.
“The landlord is honouring it though and are following through and making sure that they all get voided.”
Bay Central Shopping Centre says the time limits have been in place since 2017 to mitigate people parking at the complex and walking to work in the CBD, and are signposted throughout the carpark.
However the company does acknowledge an increase in parking breach notices issued to customers parked on their premises.
“Parking Enforcement Services has recently upgraded its ticketing system, adopting a static Licence Plate Recognition camera. This replaces previous methods including car-mounted LPR cameras recording how long vehicles were parked on-site,” says a company spokesperson.
The Chipmunks customer says they felt “incredibly nervous to return to the playland”.
“Our ticket had been taken from a traffic light camera so now when I go, I use a different exit, just to make sure I’m not risking another ticket.”
“We encourage people to stay all day and play if they want to, so I don’t want [fines] to be a barrier for our customers to come,” says Monique.
The Chipmunks customer says they couldn’t comment for the whole shopping centre but stated: “Chipmunks customers do need to be allowed to be there all day without risk of a fine”.
The Sun asked Bay Central Shopping Centre whether it would consider increasing parking limits around Chipmunks to four-five hours to minimise genuine customers receiving fines.
For businesses who encourage customers longer than parking limits, the shopping centre spokesperson says: “We ask them to provide us with the registration details of customers who are likely to exceed parking limits. We can then pass this information to Parking Enforcement Services to waive their parking infringement notices”.
“I’d like to be able to continue going to Chipmunks without worrying, especially because they’re an awesome business with helpful and kind staff that I’d love to continue to support,” says the Chipmunks customer.