I COULDN'T quite believe my eyes - a £70 penalty for parking at Tesco Silverburn.

In January I overstayed the two hour limit by 20 minutes due to circumstances beyond my control and here was the Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) to punish me for it.

It seemed ludicrous so I contacted Tesco to ask why they penalise customers, especially regular customers.

A spokesman said Tesco makes no surplus from parking charges and that all money raised from the penalties goes back in to maintaining its car parks.

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He also said - and this is useful to know - that "if a customer needs more than the two hours allowed for a medical reason, they are welcome to go to the store and request more time and the store should be able to add them to the exclusion list."

For me, I managed to have my penalty notice cancelled but it took a fair bit of back and forth with the company responsible for collecting the money.

It costs to phone them so I used an online form but, as it gives you automated responses, it feels like talking to a robot and I worried there was no human at the end to make a rational decision.

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Plenty of people said to ignore the PCN but the advice online is conflicting - some say if you ignore them, the company will stop chasing it up; others spoke of being hounded until they paid.

It feels like a real violation of privacy that these companies can buy a driver's address and seems unethical for that information to be sold.

Ending this practice can't come soon enough.