Yes, I am Biased


Yes, I am Biased

I reader reacted to my comments about Portland and their on street equipment here. Basically he said I was biased toward vendors because they paid my salary. He’s right. I am biased and they do pay my salary but the two aren’t related. I thought I should be clear — Here is my response.

You are correct, Dan,  I have a bias toward the vendors, having been one for 20 years. 

Don’t get me wrong, much of the problem vendors have is that they have set expectation levels far too high. Its their problem with which to deal.

However, I stand by my post. Folks expect parking software to work perfectly, and expect to pay a pittance for it. They are willing to pay hundreds of thousands for database software, or millions for banking software, or more for software to run manufacturing plants, or shopping centers or grocery stores. They are also willing to pay for ongoing "support" for that software, which includes fixing bugs that we existent at the time of purchase.

However when a parking vendor shows up and charges what they need to charge for software, all hell breaks loose. One assumes that one should be able to go to the local Comp USA and pick up some software like MS Word or Excel and be able to run your garage or parking operation.

This is a customer education problem. 

Biased, how can I not be?  I have never said that I wasn’t biased.  I have a bias against parking operators who don’t do their jobs properly, but support them because they are supposed to do it with fees that are ridiculous. I have a bias in favor of vendors that are required to be perfect in the face of users that refuse to even begin to learn how to use the systems they have bought. I have a bias against vendors who don’t support their equipment, and for years have said that every system I have seen works in some situations and doesn’t in others.

I have a bias in favor of end users who take the time to learn about the equipment they are buying, and expect their employees to do so, too, and I have a bias against end users who expect equipment and software to solve their problems. These are tools. They are not solutions.

A quick story:  We did a survey a few years ago on revenue control equipment. Someone wrote in and said that a Federal Scan system was the worst piece of junk he had ever had. The next day someone wrote in and said that a Federal Scan system was clearly the best piece of equipment he had ever used.  They were both hospitals, both in similar climates, age of the equipment was the same. What was the difference?

I did some detective work and found that in the first case, the customer wanted an Amano system (he was familiar with it) but was required to take the Scan system because a contractor had included it with the construction of a garage. From what I could tell, the end user simply didn’t want the system to work and was looking for a reason to replace it. Frankly I think he should have done so.

The other end user had done considerable study. He had written a spec, visited factories, and decided the Federal system was best for his application (My guess is that either would have worked .) He then embraced his system and made it work.

The point is that most systems will do a job for which they are intended, if the owners work with the vendor AND installing company to succeed.

I have probably seen more parking equipment, played with it, and talked about it in detail than anyone on the planet. I have been given demonstrations, talked to end users, and heard the good the bad and the ugly. In every case there are mitigating circumstances.

Don’t get me wrong — vendors have their warts. They are late in delivery, software goes out untested, commitments are made that can’t possibly be met. A vendor fails at this airport, but is a grand success at that. After the fact the reasons are obvious. But no one, the consultant, the vendor, the installer, or the owner were prescient enough to see what was going to happen.

Sorry, Dan, but you are right. I have no pretense of being unbiased.
Never have, never will.  But until someone comes along and shows me
where I’m wrong, I’ll continue down that path.

All the best


By the way, the marketplace has a way of dealing with those that don’t live up to their promises. There are a number, a large number, of companies that were around when we started PT a decade ago that are just memories.  Can you name a few? 

Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

One Response

  1. Isn’t the whole idea behind a Blog that it allows one the ability to express their opinion, or to present a story from their own perspective? Let’s face it, the most common issue with the software and equipment in the parking industry is “operator error”. When a corporation installs all new accounting software it can take months to get all the bugs worked out, and that equipment isn’t sitting outside in the weather. I would be willing to bet that most parking equipment software has had far fewer issues/problems than Microsoft has everytime they launch a new product.
    Anyway, it’s your Blog and it’s your opinion. I notice that no counter argument was presented that challenged your comments.

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