Parking machines that make you SPIT!

I really didn’t want to get off on a rant during the festive time –  but during the festive time is when many of us will be out and about doing that extra shopping… so this is a relevant rant.

Our Council, Cornwall, have decided that too many people have been ‘stealing’ from them by passing on unexpired-time parking tickets to other users. To stop this heinous crime they have installed new parking meters at all their car-parks at a cost of £477,144.42 for the 128 machines installed. Yes – nearly half a million pounds – while Cornwall Council’s austerity measures are also cutting hard into essential services!

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Advantages to the authority seem to be mainly to do with managing their statistics (according to a reply to a freedom of information request on their website). As well, of course, of reducing their ‘Loss’ from people who pass on unexpired tickets, and alerting them more quickly when a meter has malfunctioned so they can repair it quicker.

Loss? Really? If I, or you, bought a ticket for an hour and stayed in that space for an hour, then that space would be occupied for all that time – if I passed the ticket on to someone else – the space would still be occupied for just that amount of time. But (I hear them cry) it is against the rules – and the other person would have bought a ticket so they have made a ‘loss’.

Now I would like you to consider exactly how often this happens.
It takes, 1, that a person has a significant length of unexpired time – you wouldn’t offer a ticket to some stranger with less than half an hour and 2, you have to encounter that stranger as you are about to leave the car park. They have to be obviously going to get a ticket … and you need to be close enough to wind down your window and offer…. Yeah, not often, I’m sure. certainly not £477,144 worth of ‘lost’ revenue – even over a looong time.

All this aside – my main gripe at the moment is with these new state-of-the art meters. They do not like 20p coins! They tend to spit them out as soon as they are put in.

Picture this the other day. There is a fine *mizzle as I pull into the car-park. (*Cornish misty drizzle to the uninitiated) I take my purse and head for the parking meter. Today I have remembered to take note of my car number plate. Sometimes I do not and have had to go back until I can see it to check – because now – on these new machines – you have to put your FULL  number plate in! (How BIG BROTHER is that I ask you?!)

I put the full set in, letters and numbers in the right order, and start to feed in the coins. A nice new 20p – it runs right through.  Another woman joins the queue. I try the 20p again; same result. ‘Is it working?’ she asks. I try a 5p – it registers and I answer ‘Yes, seems it is,’ and then try the 20p again. It runs right through. I root in my purse for 10ps – all I find is another 20p – an old one – feels heavier, somehow, so I go to try that one … but before I do the 5p tinkles out and the machine resets to ‘Put in your number plate’  GRRR!

By now there are two other ‘customers’ waiting for the meter. I say, ‘I’m sorry – it doesn’t seem to like 20ps’. The woman says, ‘Oh dear – that’s all I have too.’  I have noticed this lately – lots of 20ps about – not so many 10s – perhaps they are all in the meters. It is now RAINING! I bend-down to see the keypad properly to retype my number plate number.

Number plate number displayed, I start again with the old 20p I have. It runs right through. There is nothing for it!  I must resort to the ‘SPIT method’. (I don’t like to do this in ‘company’ – as it were – otherwise I might have tried it earlier) I spit on my thumb and wet both sides of the 20p, insert it into the meter … it runs right through. Grrr!

I try a 5p, it registers. I use the spit method again on the 20p, insert it … it registers!!!!  I put in the other 5p and I have my ticket!

After displaying the ticket I head for the shop … noticing that the woman behind me in the queue is still at the meter… and the two behind her now joined by yet another ‘customer’, all waiting to try their luck at getting the machine to accept legal tender.

I think of all the 20ps inside the new meters stuck together with spit – as I know that this is the wisdom passed on from motorist to motorist at tricky meters
‘W
hen the meter spits out the coin – you spit on the coin before re-inserting it!’

I think of the time I have wasted, of the time everyone in that queue has wasted – and how wet I have got – and how unhygienic it is – just trying to pay the parking fee of 30p – and I am very unhappy with my County council – and that was before I found out exactly how much they paid out to inflict this on us!

And … please do not get me started on the other option if a machine won’t accept the coins you have – to use my phone to pay for the ticket!

Have you encountered machines that won’t take your money!

Does it drive you mad?

Do share – a rant shared is … therapy  😉

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