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Warning for mall customers as car towed

JOE DAWSON
Last updated 05:00 22/11/2013
St Lukes Mega Centre
NO WARNING: The entrance to the St Lukes Mega Centre.

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Shoppers heading to St Lukes this Christmas season could find their cars being towed if they walk between the various shopping centres.

Pt Chevalier resident Sarah Dowling had her car towed from the St Lukes Mega Centre car park last Wednesday and wants to warn others.

Ms Dowling parked at the complex with the intention of visiting a shoe store, which she discovered had moved into the Westfield mall.

Instead of driving over the road and finding another park, she decided to walk. When she returned a short time later her car had disappeared. She says she was away for less than the signposted 120 minute time limit and her first thought was her car had been stolen.

A call to the Auckland Towing Company revealed she had been observed leaving the car park and was no longer considered a customer.

Ms Dowling believes that was an over-the-top reaction. It was a mid-week afternoon and there were plenty of parks available.

When the Central Leader visited the car park there were no signs alerting shoppers to the threat of towing. At both entries there were posts in place but the signs were missing.

Across the road at the Wagener Shopping Centre there are signs advising the car parks are for "bona fide" shoppers only.

Ms Dowling says moving between the Mega Centre, Westfield and the Wagener Shopping Centre on foot seems the natural thing to do.

"Most people seem to think they are connected but actually if you want to shop between them you have to drive, which is a bit stupid really.

"The obvious thing to do is walk between the three places."

She says a ticket might be a more appropriate way of dealing with people who park for too long.

The St Lukes Mega Centre, which is home to retailers such as Noel Leeming and Dick Smith, is owned by Chit Wing Or who did not reply to messages.

A spokesman for the Auckland Towing Company says he cannot comment without permission from the owner.

Ms Dowling paid $250 to retrieve her car.

Consumer spokesman Paul Doocey says the actions of the towing firm were "mean". "It's a bit harsh to say the moment you find out a shop has moved you have to move your car."

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