I was setting up a new exhibition of my work last week at Enfield Chase station. The work is up in My Coffee Shop, the delightful little oasis of calm on this busy north London station. It not being my local station, I’d asked the owner, Karen, whether there was parking handy at the station for me to unload. She’d said that the station had a car park, and that it was £3 to park all day. Perfect. I even did a visit the day before to check out how handy it was.
I arrived at the car park on the day with a small collection of pound coins for the ticket machine. However, on arrival, I found that there was no ticket machine; only a sign…
Oh lovely, thought I, a quicker and more efficient way to pay than the burden of preparing loose change, walking to a machine, dispensing money and taking the ticket back to the car. Oh, goody!
With a longing for human contact, I called the number first. I got a recorded message to tell me to send a text. I texted the number of the car park location. I got a text back to say I needed to register for the service. I had to ring another number. During this call, I had to type in my card number, my expiry date and code. I dropped my wallet and all the other cards fell out. Once I’d registered, and paid, I was told the call was over, and I should remember to text my car registration. I texted my car registration. A minute later, I received a text telling me the required format for my text message with my car registration, which was not just my car registration. I re-texted my car registration in the format required. The whole process took about ten minutes.
For those who want a summary of this quick an efficient method of payment, it goes: telephone call, text, telephone call, enter all card details, text, text again. That’s two telephone calls and three texts. And there’s an additional 20p charge on top of the £3, which they call a ‘convenience fee’. I expect with so much speed, efficiency and convenience, there has to be a financial cost over and above the actual act of parking.
I will probably never use this car park again, but at least I am now registered which will take all the hassle out of not using it again. And I was saved the burden of that money in machine business that had so troubled mankind up to the invention of texts.
At least I had a spare three quid for a coffee and a croissant.