What’s going on? We managed to put a man on the moon more than 40 years ago and live in an age of constant technological advances. But you still can’t get change from a pay and display parking meter.
Imagine if you went into a shop to buy something for cash and were then told that whatever coins of the realm you offered, the price you had to pay was that of the next highest value item on the shelves. End of story.
If the item was 60p and you only had £1, tough. Or if it was £1.40 and all you had was a £2 coin, then they’d take that off you and you’d get nothing back. Zilch, nada, diddlysquat.
You’d be outraged, wouldn’t you? Yet that is what happens every day in car parks up and down the land.
A survey has revealed that the nation’s motorists overpay an astonishing £2.4bn a year. We regularly end up being stung for extra parking time we don’t need just because we don’t have exactly the right money.
Why is that so many meters don’t give change? Surely it wouldn’t have anything to do with it being a nice little earner for councils or whoever happens to run the methods of legalised extortion we call car parks?
If I buy a drink or a bar of chocolate from a vending machine, I can put in a pound coin and magically some change is coughed up.
Yet pay and display meters don’t seem to have caught up with whatever gizmos are used to work out what you’ve spent and what you need back.
Parking is expensive enough these days without being ripped off for additional money you really shouldn’t have to hand over.
I went down to Gunwharf Quays the other day and grimaced as I saw the tariff.
Up to two hours was £2.90, 2-3 hours £3.90, 3-4 hours £5.50 and 4-5 hours an eye-watering £6.90.
At least Gunwharf has machines with an electronic brain that can accept a range of coins or notes and make sure you get your change.
But car parks everywhere are coining it in – literally. What is it they said about Dick Turpin? At least he had the decency to wear a mask.