A SHOPPER was wrongly fined £80 for parking too long at a York shopping centre after her car was mistaken for another one with an almost identical registration number.

Yvonne Mulvaney said she drove to the Vangarde shopping park to visit the John Lewis store on April 12.

She said she stayed there for less than two hours and so was shocked when she received a parking charge notice in the post a few days later, claiming she was parked for more than five hours and exceeded the maximum permitted time.

The letter from Horizon Parking stated he had breached Vangarde terms and conditions after arriving at 10.40am and leaving at 15.50, adding: "Overstay duration: 1hr, 10mins."

But accompanying photographs used to justify the fine showed two different cars entering and leaving the car park.

The first correctly showed her red Vauxall Corsa, with a registration number of YH64CVR, entering at 10.40.

But the second showed a black car of a different make, with one different letter in the registration plate, leaving at 15.50.

The letter said her registered keeper details had been obtained from DVLA and she was liable to pay £80, although this would be reduced to £45 if she paid within 14 days.

Shocked by the demand, she decided she wasn't going to accept the fine and made a complaint to Vangarde, where a member of staff took the matter up.

She said she had now received confirmation in writing from Horizon Parking that they had cancelled the Parking Charge Notice and removed her details from their database, and also sent her a gift voucher, but she was still unhappy she had been put through the experience and it had put her off returning to shop at the store.

"I feel these companies are very quick off the mark to issue these demands but, in this instance, haven't checked the facts carefully and have pursued an innocent motorist needlessly," said Yvonne, from Leeds.

"What had been a nice trip now has unpleasant connotations attached to it. It has caused me stress and a great deal of annoyance.

"I have written to DVLA requiring them to explain why they issue personal data without checking the validity of the request."

Will Dickson, director for Horizon Parking Limited, said all its Parking Charge Notices (PCN) were checked and verified by its head-office team prior to them being issued.

"Having investigated this situation, we’ve unfortunately made an error with the vehicle registration differing between photographs by one character," he said.

"Considering more than 30,000 cars pass by the cameras at Vangarde Shopping Park in a week, this is a rare occurrence.

“As soon as we were notified that this error had been made, we immediately cancelled the PCN and, as a gesture of goodwill, also provided the customer with a John Lewis voucher to apologise for the inconvenience caused.

“We take accuracy of our car park management very seriously and have therefore taken further steps regarding our vehicle checks to avoid this reoccurring in future.”