Can’t run the Meter, it’s the Meter’s Fault


Can’t run the Meter, it’s the Meter’s Fault

The city of Indiana, PA, seems to have a problem. They bought pay by space machines and according to what I read in this letter to the editor, they haven’t done a very good job training people how to use them. I repeat the instructions given in the letter here:

  • Check the number on the street as you are exiting your car or on the sidewalk next to your car.
  • Go to the meter and get your money ready. Do not put the money in yet.
  • Press your number. Read if there is time in the lower window. If there is time, determine if you need more time. If not, go on your way. If so, go to next step.
  • Press your number again. The number should be flashing and the instructions should say “Insert coin.” Insert your coin(s) now. The time it is giving you will show in the bottom window. Absolutely do not re-push your number while the number is flashing. If you re-push your number the meter will reset and your money will be lost.
  • If you want to check if the meter recorded your time, wait until the screen again says, “Welcome.” Then push your number and look at the time window.

Secondly, if you feel you have received a ticket in error due to a faulty meter or some other reason, you may appeal the ticket by filling out a form at the office in the borough parking garage.

Thirdly, the red meters are 20-minute meters. This means that no matter how much money you put in them, you will only receive 20 minutes.

Confused. Well so am I. First of all, this shop owner is telling her patrons how to cheat (see the third item listed). Aside from that, my guess is that her description of what to do is probably correct. Which means that the equipment is not intuitive and hard to use. I have no idea whose equipment it is but it would appear they need some help in product design.

Don Shoup and I went to Pasadena, CA to take some pictures for this month’s PT and he attempted to use the pay by space machines. They were not easy to use. If you hit the wrong button, you were dead in the water. This university professor and parking expert couldn’t figure them out. (Well, OK, I can understand that.) However they were difficult. I’m guessing that if you were over 15 years old, you had no chance.

Can you imagine the frustration of this merchant in Pennsylvania? Her clients weren’t coming down town because they couldn’t figure out how to use the parking meters. Bad parking folks in Indiana, PA, Bad product designers.

Come on vendors. If you want to provide a product, it has to be intuitive. You should be able to use it without knowing anything in advance. Instructions must be clear AND yhey must be easy to read, even in full sunlight or dark shadows.



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John Van Horn

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