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Do I have to pay the parking ticket from the supermarket parking lot?

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Illegal parkers and long-term guests are a thorn in the side of supermarkets, so they have security services hand out parking tickets – sometimes with outrageously high fees. Find out what the private security are allowed to do and when you don’t have to pay a parking ticket.

If you don’t follow the operator’s rules in private parking lots, you quickly risk getting a parking ticket. What rights do the operators have? And can they just tow the car?

In larger inner cities, in particular, you will always find vacant lots that are leased to private operators. These areas offer ideal conditions for a parking space.

The road traffic regulations do not apply to these private parking lots, unless there is such a sign: “The rules of the StVO apply here”. Many supermarkets are now also leasing their parking spaces to private operators.

If you park at the supermarket, you enter into a contract

parking ticket

It costs 30 euros at a Lidl branch in Munich if the customer does not park properly, 25 euros if he occupies a disabled parking space. This is announced by a large sign at the entrance to the parking lot. A private security service checks the vehicles in front of the supermarket and does not hesitate to push the appropriate parking tickets under the windshield.

If you park at the supermarket, you enter into a contract. If you get caught, you usually feel just as unfairly treated as in a public parking lot – but at least it’s the police who impose the fines. Do private companies even have the right to do so? YES! After all, the parking spaces in front of the supermarket are privately owned – and the housekeeping rights of the owner apply there . Theoretically, every dealer who offers customer parking spaces should also monitor them, even the small flower shop on the corner.

The legal basis on which the parking fines are imposed is questiobanle. From a technical point of view, this is a contractual penalty. You don’t even know that you have signed a parking contract? Well, you remember the sign at the parking lot entrance – that’s the contract. You tacitly accept it when you drive into the parking lot.

Which questions have not yet been legally clarified?

Many questions have not yet been legally clarified. What is certain is that you will have to pay the fees if the supermarket has your car towed away. Then you actually incur costs. However, this is unsafe with flat-rate parking fines. They are usually higher than the 15 euros that wrong parking costs in public parking lots.

Supermarket parking security usually justify the higher fines with the fact that, in contrast to the city, they would have to cover their costs and 15 euros would not be enough for it.

It is also unclear who actually has to pay a parking fine in a private car park. In case of doubt, the police would hold the owner liable. However, this does not apply to the supermarket parking lot. Here, after all, the driver has entered into the above-mentioned “contract” and not the owner. If the security service cannot find the driver personally, it will be difficult to collect the fine.

Can the car be towed?

parking ticket

In principle, the owner or leaseholder has the right to tow away parking offenders. This regulates § 859, paragraph 3 BGB. But it always has to be proportionate, for example when a fire brigade access or an emergency alley is blocked. According to a ruling by the Federal Court of Justice, the costs for towing must not move at astronomical heights, but “based on the local price level”.

By the way, towing is permitted even if other parking spaces were free on the same site (V ZR 144/08).

Who pays the supermarket parking ticket?

parking ticket

Private parking spaces are not monitored by the public order office, but by a service provider. This is why the supermarket parking ticket is also called “contractual penalty” here. As a rule, the driver is left with the costs. If he or she has not driven himself or denies being the parking offender, he or she must name other possible drivers.

The contractual penalty is usually slightly higher than the fine on public parking lots. However, it must not be disproportionately high. Up to 30 euros are considered justified.

When to pay – and when not to

But that doesn’t mean you should just ignore the windshield wipers. If the parking lot security catches you in the act and it can be clearly demonstrated that you are the driver and that you are parked wrongly or for too long, then you’d better pay the fine. In this case, your chances of getting out of the situation for free would be legally very poor.

The situation is different if the parking lot security distribute the parking ticket unauthorized or cannot even know who the driver was. Then you can safely ignore the penalty. If you do not pay the ticket, reminders and finally notices of collection to the holder will follow . It is uncertain whether the supermarket will go to court in the end to collect the measly €30.

As a rule, however, you shouldn’t let it get that far. Most of the time, a parking ticket can be avoided if you simply lay out the parking disc. That costs little money and even less work and, if in doubt, saves a lot of trouble. Some supermarkets also cancel tickets if you can prove that you have made a purchase there with a receipt at the checkout.

When in doubt, the supermarket is unlikely to have much interest in punishing you. For the retailers, that would also be bad marketing, which they only use to annoy their customers.


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Michelle Halterman
USA, China, South Africa and now Munich - Michelle has come a long way in the world. She is an outdoor person and loves to be in nature with friends and on her mountain bike. Or she meets up with friends for pasta, vino, cappaccino & Co.
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