Car park
The National Car Park has apologised for the mistake and has started the refund process (Representational photo) Francois Lenoir/Reuters

A city worker who had parked his car for just six hours in central London was handed a £3,731 parking ticket despite having pre-booked a £5 all-day parking deal. Manish Wadhwani was charged the hefty amount as the machines at the car park wrongly calculated his parking ticket.

"The first thing I thought was that it couldn't be true - this is absolutely ridiculous. I spoke to an operator at the car park and he was helpless. He said the only thing he could do was register a case for me and that somebody would pick it up," Wadhwani, a 32-year-old software engineer, was quoted as saying by The Telegraph. He had parked his vehicle at the car park in Portman Square.

"I was trying until 2pm to get in contact with them. Their system wasn't available and I tweeted them many times so, essentially, the whole working day was lost. When I told the bank they were very helpful, but were also shocked," Wadhwani said.

He added: "It's been really stressful. I haven't been able to use my credit card for a few days. My parents have been visiting us from India so you expect to do social things. It was my brother's wedding anniversary and I couldn't pay for the cake; my sister had to. We're also going on holiday next week."

The mistake happened because the machines failed to register Wadhwani's vehicle leaving the car park on 23 August. When he used the same facility for the second time three months later, the machines calculated from the last time he had used the car park.

"Our investigation showed us that the customer had parked with us in August, and hadn't exited the car park using the card he used on entry. This may be due to a barrier already been raised," a National Car Parks (NCP) spokesperson said.

She added: "As a consequence, when he parked on Sunday, the parking equipment believed he had overstayed from his August booking. The system believed he was on an overcharge stay and charged him accordingly." NCP has apologised for the mistake and has started the refund process.