Just a little too high tech


Just a little too high tech

I visited a high-tech parking operation yesterday. It had everything – reservations, license plate recognition, parking guidance, it was a carnival of parking technology. I chatted with the operator, watched patrons be amazed when the gates opened automatically on exit, and overall had a wonderful experience.

Until it was time to leave and I went to the central pay area to settle up. I inserted my ticket in the machine and then when asked, inserted my credit card. I got a message telling me that my ticket was inserted incorrectly. And then it returned my credit card. I assumed it meant “credit card” instead of “ticket” and turned the card around and reinserted. Same thing.  I inserted the credit card every possible way and still was rejected.

Then I noticed way down at the bottom of the machine a slot surrounded by credit card logos. I was inserting my card in the wrong slot. I bent down (the credit card slot was literally at knee height) and put in my card. Lights begin flashing, appropriate messages were displayed, and all was right with the world.

Now I may not be the sharpest knife in the parking drawer but this was not my first rodeo. I had parked many places where I inserted my ticket and then inserted my card in the same slot.

Of course, now that I think about it, that doesn’t work so well with the ‘chip cards’ we all carry in our wallets and purses. Having a different slot for credit cards makes sense. But why not have a little sign or icon pop up on the screen after I put in my ticket saying “insert credit card IN THE SLOT BELOW” and a picture with an arrow showing where the slot is located.

Surely the high-tech machine knew the difference between a ticket and a credit card. I would have even liked a message saying “Insert Credit Card in Slot below the slot you just used, dummy.”

Maybe I’m the only person who has ever made that mistake, but frankly I doubt it.

Oh, it was fun to roll up to the exit gate and have it open without having to put my ticket in the exit device and I did drive around the ground floor until I saw a green arrow indicating an open space and beat some other poor soul to it. Getting the last spot on the ground floor is fun, too.


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

One Response

  1. John, having worked for many years supplying parking equipment and as a consultant, I have found the problem you experienced is getting worse as some manufucturers appear to put more design emphasis in minimising production cost and assembly time and maintenance access than in what is a key requirement of any product: “making it logical, user friendly and simple to use by patrons”.
    Over the many years I was involved in supplying equipment, I always battled with the manufacturers to ensure their equipment was designed with the end user in mind first and secondly for production and maintenance.

    I maybe old school, but still believe the customer always comes first.

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