Yes, I came away unaware I had been fined. They took a picture of the car driving away.
And yes, there are signs saying you can't park for more than 30 mins - but I (stupidly) believed the opticians that it would in fact be ok to outstay the 30 minute limit as long as I gave my registration number to them on the reception desk. They told me this was the case twice - when I phoned to make the appointment and when I arrived and gave them my reg number - I said something like "are you sure it'll be ok for me to park there (pointing to car) for more than 30 minutes" and the receptionist said "yes".
I'm hoping that they will now tell the parking company that I was a bona fide customer and therefore exempt from a fine - the businesses in the area apparently kicked up a fuss because of course people weren't going to their businesses because of the fines.
This happened to us when we stayed at a hotel - we pulled up outside and they parked the car for us - when we left 2 days later we had a fine! Called the hotel and they said it happened all the time and to ignore - we did and so far it has been fine;.
Just talked to dh and realised it's not just the fine - the car hire company has also slapped on a £35 admin fee.
So evening if the opticians say to ignore the fine, we're still going to be £35 down.
Dh will phone the car hire company tomorrow and I'll ask the opticians what they plan to do about the admin fee (once I''ve got them to admit they tell customers to ignore the 30 min rule). Think I'll record the conversation.
We to have a similar situation with Portsmouth city council. They issued DH a fixed penalty notice, which came through the post, for £50, but the signs a tthe place where the offence happened clearly say "fixed penalty of £25, and £1000 if we pursue through the courts"
An update - I phoned them this morning, and recorded the conversation.
It's legal to record a conversation as long as at least one party (i.e. me in this case) knows it's being recorded. one link here about that
The manager said they usually faxed the reg. numbers to the parking company, but he knew there'd been a fax machine problem around that time and we should bring in the paperwork and they'd sort it out.
I explained we'd also incurred a £35 admin fee from the car hire company so he said to bring that in and they'd "see what they can do."
Dh is going to do that today, so we'll see what happens.