To charge or not to charge


The recent decision by Jempsons to charge for using their car park seems to have stirred up a bit of a hornet’s nest, and the shop itself may be surprised at the extent of discontent that appears to have been simmering under the surface.

There are two things about this parking furore that make me curious:

The first is the timing of the introduction of the charge. When I asked one of the shop staff the reason for charging, I was told that it was to help avoid the congestion and accidents that had occurred during the summer when the town was full of visitors. Now I can see some logic in this – impose a charge, redeemable on purchasing goods, and it would, in theory, put off people who simply want to use the free car park without intending to darken Messrs Jempson’s doorstep.

But in that case, why impose the charge now when the holiday season is over and the shop and car park are under less pressure? A cynic (which, of course, I am not) might perhaps link it with the approach of the Christmas shopping spree and the fact that a not insignificant number of people either lose their parking ticket before getting to the tills, or forget about it until too late. Perish the thought!

Also a lot of people may be spending less than £5 because they are just buying a newspaper, or wanting cash, or a snack, or are even using the Post Office – run by Jempson’s. Surely some space could have been provided for temporary parkers (often, in Rye, the elderly and infirm). Jempson’s already provide for quick shoppers (outside the barrier gates) so surely they could and should have provided for quick parkers?

The second matter is the question of charging on Sundays, a day when the shop is shut. The Jempson family make much of their Christian beliefs and this is, I assume, the reason why they wish to have strict observance of the Sabbath and undertake no trading and making of money on that day. Fair enough.

But wait! What are those money-collecting machines in the car park doing? They are of course enabling Jempsons to trade by proxy. No human will need to work (or will they, there surely needs to be some check that people have paid and displayed?), but money will still be made, for no one will be able to claim their £1 back on the day and how many will be bothered to go into the shop on Monday, make £5 worth of purchases and claim their £1 back then? Some will, of course, but the majority, probably not.

And why are they parking on Sunday anyway if Jempson’s is shut? Perhaps they are going to church?

Jempson’s have seen one crisis, in the form of possible opposition from Tesco or Sainsburys, averted thanks to the inept handling of that affair (with both supermarkets having planning permission), but in a small town such as Rye, it needs to remember it is important for any business to retain the goodwill of its customers if it is to prosper. The company may, perhaps, wish to think again, or at least to explain better, the reasons for their decision . . . and handle comments and complaints better, as Rye News (see below) tries to do.

We would welcome any comments you may have and they can be posted below, but please note all comments are first passed by a moderator before being displayed publicly and we will not publish anything which is simply rude or defamatory 

Photo: John Minter

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  1. I totally understand the reasons to charge BUT lots of the discontentment is to do with the lack of common sense concerning ‘pop in’ shoppers. I live in Rye and spend lots of time ferrying my children around; in between which may include popping in to Jempsons for a few items eg milk, bread etc or to get cash. I do not see what can be gained from charging people like me for this 5 minute convenience. What would please the locals (who apart from a great butchers, two green grocers and fishmongers, have a rough deal when it comes to food shopping) would be a free first fifteen minutes to enable a quick shop or visit to the Post Office. Please remember, it is the locals that keep the Jempsons monopoly in business, so some consideration for our needs would be good!

  2. Jempsons claim that it’s a not-for-profit scheme and that they support local charities. Being that they are Christian we must assume that they adhere to the commandments and that it is true. So let’s see some transparency with Jempsons publishing exactly how much they have handed to charities in the last 12 months and how much has been handed out in fines for overstaying for the same period. If this indeed non profit making then Jempsons should have no trouble from now on in telling us how much they take on an ongoing basis and which charities they have given it to. You could then publicise it in your paper and they would get free publicity. A win win, except for the people paying to park who don’t or can’t reclaim of course.

  3. I have now asked Dominic (Jempsons) 3 times what if you only want your pension or stamps, do you have to then go into the shop and buy goods. The PO have no facilities for the reimbursement of the car parking charges.

  4. Whatever one’s views are regarding the proposed car parking charges at Jempsons, Rye is rather short of affordable car parking space. We urgently need more space to accommodate people visiting our lovely town in order to spend their hard earned cash in our shops, restaurants, cinema and pubs. Can we not come to some arrangement over what was the proposed new supermarket site (which I think is owned by Sainsbury’s) for extra parking? People will soon be obliged to shop elsewhere where parking is perhaps less of a problem.

  5. I might suggest that the current Jempsons parking system is possibly illegal and actually not enforceable in law, being one of the reasons for the proposed changes. If you Google ‘unenforceable parking fines’ you get a mass of responses on this subject. It would appear there is no such thing as a ‘fine’ for parking on private land. The ticket you might be served for overstaying is an invoice not a fine. I understand that some people have fought this and have overturned the ‘fine’. Would be interesting to know if this applies to the current Jempson’s system.

  6. If you have a car or a bus Pass you could a always boycott Jempson’s. You can catch a bus no;100 in station road it will drop you off almost outside Aldi in Ore where you can do your shopping then catch the bus home. Should you have to pay a bus fare shopping at Aldi will save you that money.

  7. I have read the above comments and listened to many more about this subject. It is blindingly obvious that there is something fundamentally wrong with a management system that cannot even carry out a simple study or PR exercise to ascertain just what the customer wants or needs. Before said management try to implement a potentially divisive and acrimonious solution . Instead we have this take it or leave it attitude that smacks more than a little of arrogance and indeed a certain level of incompetence.
    As a second thought though, perhaps Jempsons had a cunning plan all the time. Stick up a few signs about parking charges. Gauge the public reaction and there is your PR exercise. Cheap at half the price.
    Jan Mears is right, just boycott the store

  8. I have been most interested to read the comments of those who have expressed their views with regard to Jempson’s proposal to install “pay and display” machines in their car park. Personally my wife and I rarely purchase anything from the store other than when it is an emergency as the prices are rediculously too high. We shop at Aldi which is relatively near either by bus or car and the savings are considerably less and their goods are good quality. When I need to go into town I shall walk or perhaps get my old bike out. I realise that is not an option for everyone but for many there is the town bus of course.

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