Parking Space Payment At Malls Draws Anger Of Clients | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe

Latest News

Parking Space Payment At Malls Draws Anger Of Clients

Posted: Apr 22, 2016 at 3:02 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)



Provision of parking spaces at business premises has been taken for granted by most Nigerians. Business owners are equally aware that when they provide space it would attract customers who would take advantage of the convenience. Banks, manufacturers and other service industry operators provide such convenience for their customers.

However, a new trend is gradually gaining ground as shopping malls now collect parking fees from customers who patronize shop owners at the malls.

It started with the Ikeja Shopping Mall then copied by the Surulere mall. But the Lekki Mall, the first of the modern shopping malls, still remain free for customers.

Most respondents, who spoke to Independent, are of the view that parking at the malls should not be an extra burden, saying that the rent collected from shop owners should have covered for parking and maintenance of the malls.

According to a legal practitioner, paying a fee for parking at shopping malls in a way violates the right of the customer to space and security when making purchases at the malls.

Kabir Akingbolu, who spoke on the legality of the parking fee, said it was wrong on the part of the shopping mall owners to discountenance the right of the customer to space and security of his property since the car or vehicle is parked for the purpose of purchase in the mall.

“Yes, I think it is a contract between the owner of the car and the shopping mall. Now from the point of view of law, in this particular case, I think there should be security for car parked. It is only when it is expressly stated while going into contract that the shopping mall owner or hotel is not liable.

“But often time, you find out that there is an indication that cars are parked at owner’s risk which means that if anything happens, the owner of the car bears the brunt. I think this is unfair especially when the service rendered also covers the security of one’s property”.

A visit to Ikeja Shopping Mall, one of the foremost shopping malls in Nigeria, by Independent shows that shoppers are split between the right or wrong about the payment on parking space. While some say it is another way of extorting hapless consumers, others say they welcome it.

Customers are allowed to park free of charge in the first one-hour but every hour spent beyond that attracts a fee of N200. Entry after 8p.m. attracts a N350 flat rate and lost ticket attracts a fine of N1, 500. This billing system is replicating itself in virtually all shopping malls in Lagos.

Independent found that the parking lots were well kept and there were security guards with dogs on patrol.

Although the parking fee is still in force, many shoppers have expressed divergent views over the payment. While some believed it is a good thing, as it will bring about order, some believe it was an indirect means of extortion on the part of mall owners.

Independent gathered from some car owners, who had come to the mall, that the parking fee was not a bad idea, adding that it was the right thing to do in order to prevent over-crowding and chaos on the parking lot of the Ikeja City Mall. However, some are of the view that there was no need to charge any parking fees because the shoppers were customers of the mall owners and businesses at the place.

A company executive, Ayo Olajide, said that the parking fee serves to prevent over-crowding, chaos and leaving vehicles on the parking space for too long a time and thereby prevent other persons from accessing the parking spaces.

“I like the idea of paying a parking fee at the mall because it makes you to be conscious of time while at the mall. It has also created a situation in which only persons that have serious things to do come to the mall. If there is no parking fee, some persons will abuse it and stay here for a long time and deprive others from using the lot”, he added.

For Adesina Wahab, the parking fee is not a big deal, because, according to him, there is adequate security at the mall and people have to pay for the situation to subsist. He added that it is usually people who are well to do that go to the mall to buy stuff, adding that the parking does not create a hole in one’s pocket if one does the right thing within the right time.

However, Susan Adeleye, another shopper, said that there was no need to charge any parking fee, adding that the fee was an unnecessary burden on shoppers, who she said were being exploited on all fronts in the country. She called on the management of the mall to stop the collection of the parking fees, adding that the fee might stop some people from coming to the mall to buy goods.

Elaborating, Akingbolu, who was quoted earlier said, it was necessary that consumers get well informed on what the services entail to avoid any crisis that may likely arise as a result of theft, loss or breach.

He said: “It is not enough to be liable to the owner of the car except if you have written at the back of the receipt or back of the door of the hotel or shopping mall. It is the responsibility of the shopping mall owner or hotel to direct the attention of customers to that clause. If their attention is not drawn to it, it is not binding on them.

“By so doing, they are not liable or held responsible. It is only when you have it included in the clause that the liability can be reduced or excluded. As in the case of air travel where the liability of the carrier is limited to the value of the goods carried or charged at value not exceeding $100, the airline has little or no liability. Hence, if consumers go about seeking redress or compensation, it may not lead to anywhere since it has been stated in the contract.”

On his part, the Head of Consumer Protection Council (CPC), Lagos Unit, Joshua Nggada, said it must be stressed that not all issues or complaints deriving from consumers are handled and resolved by the agency, noting that in some circumstances consumers are more liable.

He noted that in situation where it is properly stated that consumers reserve certain rights, the agency would not fail in its duty to pursue such complaint to a logical conclusion with a view to getting them desired compensation.

According to Nggada, the agency can only defend the right of the consumer in this situation when it is stated in the contract that the service to be rendered covers parking.

“It is not every complaint that CPC is expected to address. Of course, consumers have the option of parking their cars wherever they deemed fit. Nobody is forcing you to park in the premises. You must also understand that some people or individuals offer such service. So, it depends on the terms in the contract. If the service include parking fee, it would be wrong for the mall to demand for fee”.