It’s a simple concept, fast food: place your order and in a couple of minutes, you sink your teeth into some deliciously warm and lovely food, for the most part.
The idea, actually curated in the late 1800s, meant restaurants would provide a cheap and quick alternative to home cooked meals because of their low preparation time; handy if you had multiple mouths to feed, or you just hated waiting 30 minutes to an hour for your potatoes and protein.
The concept was made mainstream in the United States in the 50s and has since defined convenience for generations, offering mainly fried foods and fizzy drinks in many styles and sizes. KFC, considered to be one of the staples of fast food, fourth largest chain in both the United States and the United Kingdom, recently decided to change their definition of the word “convenience”.
An unsuspecting man, on his way back home to Hertfordshire from Newcastle with his mum and daughter, visited a KFC branch in Wolviston, County Durham and was billed a surprising amount.
Local news website, Gazette Live, reported that after Mark Howie visited the Wolviston KFC with his family, spending £23 ($30), he had to pay a further £60 ($79) to the branch because they claimed he and his family took too long to eat their food.
After returning home, the following week Mark received the fine from Civil Enforcement Ltd, a partner company to KFC that handle the car parking spaces for some branches.
The branch claimed the family overstayed their one-hour-parking time limit, spotting the 43-year-old’s Chrysler had been parked an extra 19 minutes more than allowed. The company threatened to fine a further £100 ($131) if he didn’t pay the initial fine.
He told Gazette Live: “They said I had 14 days to pay but by the time the letter came, a week had already passed“
“The one thing that struck me was how they say you have to eat a family meal in under an hour. When you have kids though, it definitely isn’t always possible. I felt mistreated as a customer.”
You can hardly say you had a bargain bucket. KFC refused to intervene at first, but they have since appealed the fine on Howie’s behalf.
Vice journalists tried to follow up on the story, reaching out to the specific KFC chain, where a spokesperson told them:
“Although we don’t own the car park at our Wolviston restaurant, our fans are important to us so we worked with the parking company to get Mark’s fine overturned.”
KFC added: “Time restrictions are there for the benefit of the customer so there is space available for them to park while eating. We have taken the feedback on board and are looking at how we can make the systems better.”
He now urges other people who have been victim to such a ridiculous penalty to fight back, saying that “the message is to not let them push you over“.