It should actually be clear to everyone: parking spaces at supermarkets and discounters such as Aldi or Lidl are only intended for customers. Anyone who parks their car there without authorization could experience a nasty surprise: a ticket under the windscreen wiper or the car was towed away. But it can even hit paying customers.

Especially in larger cities, the operators of the markets attach great importance to the fact that the parking areas are not unnecessarily blocked. That’s why so-called “parking space managers” are often used – and they sometimes distribute juicy tickets.

Here’s how to avoid it and what to do about it when you’re asked to pay.

Most people simply ignore them, but almost every parking lot in the markets has clearly visible signs with information on the parking spaces. This determines how long customers can park their vehicles there.

The maximum parking time varies and often depends on the size of the market and parking lot. Small shops often only take 30 minutes, larger stores like IKEA also offer three hours.

That’s why you should always have a parking disc with you and always place it in a clearly visible place in the car – by the way, motorcycles must also use one. It’s best to make a habit out of it to be on the safe side.

With an electronic parking disc it works automatically and you don’t have to think about it anymore. The small investment can save you some hefty contractual penalties.

You can’t count on being lucky everywhere that there’s no inspector on the road. In some car parks, the parking time is recorded digitally, which means that no parking disc is required. Sensors embedded in the floor are used.

As soon as the parking time is exceeded, the operator automatically receives a message. So there is very little room to maneuver and you should pay close attention to how much time you spend in the market.

Strictly speaking, exceeding the parking time is not a ticket or a fine, because only the authorities are allowed to issue it. It is a contractual penalty – the “ticket” is only an indication of it.

This note does not come from the shops themselves. So Aldi, Lidl and Co. do not make any money from it. Instead, they lease the parking space to parking managers, who then enforce the rules and make money from it.

This is probably the reason why many customers often feel that the contractual penalties are excessive. But how high can they actually be?

Not only the parking time, but also the amount of the contractual penalty can vary greatly. Depending on the operator, this is between 10 and 30 euros. According to lawyer Kay Rodegra from Würzburg, these demands are justified.

If the contractual penalty is much higher, customers could possibly resist it. But whether the financial and time expenditure for the challenge in court is worthwhile, everyone has to decide for themselves.

If you overstay the parking time or park your vehicle without shopping in the store, you risk having your car towed away. The illegal parker then bears the costs for this himself.

In rare cases, customers can also hope for goodwill from the market operator. This happened in one case in Düsseldorf-Flingern. Here, a 73-year-old man was fined 25 euros after exceeding the limit for 68 seconds – Lidl at least provided the gentleman with a shopping voucher of the same value.

At Aldi Süd, too, you may be able to defend yourself against the contractual penalty if you violate the contract for the first time by writing to customer service at and presenting your receipt as proof.

However, there is no guarantee of this, as the markets do not want to make any money with parking space management. You can only hope that as a returning customer you will be valued accordingly – you are more likely to do so if you do not intentionally and repeatedly break the rules.

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