Monday, March 07, 2011

Morrison's car-park

This weekend for the first time I've parked at Morrison's when the machines have been functioning. This is a coincidence as a letter appeared in the Shuttle asking patrons not to blame the staff. There is never a need to do this particularly at those who have had no say in the matter... but damnit I can understand the frustration.

I parked, I checked the boards, I reached the atrium. Four machines in two pair each pair with its own queue with one machine non-functioning. Due to positioning the queue on the left had extended back into the road and those who had finished at those machines had to cut through the other queue to reach the door. I reached the machine, and got my ticket. I had until 14:04. As you get two and a half hours I reached the machine at 12:34. My in-car clock said 12:23 when I parked.

Annoyingly I thought I might only be nipping in for a couple of items, but wasn't sure and thus erred on the side of safety in my purchase of a ticket. In the end I spent just over half-an-hour and enough to redeem it.

Flaws in the system:

1. The queue reaching back to the road. I was later informed that there are another set of machines on the other side of the atrium. There are no signs informing you of this and the only way you could discover this is by not joining the queue and walking through the atrium, which is psychologically the same as entering the store.

2. Although I may have missed it the signs didn't inform you of the price for a ticket.

3. Likewise although it seems common knowledge that the first ½ hour is free nothing informs you of this.

4. The machines themselves are sluggish at input. The closest analogy I can think of is using an iPhone's keyboard while wearing gloves.

5. In redeeming your ticket at the checkout; you give them the ticket. This is the only proof you have that you've not only paid, but the time for which you've paid for.

All-in-all it's not the best way of using the system. As a certain councillor always says 'So what would you do?' in a certain tone, here's my reply. Given that the minimum spend is £5 and the maximum time is 2½ hours:

Anyone spending over 2½ hours in the car-park automatically gets fined.
If you spend over £5 you get a bar-code ticket at the checkout that you swipe as you leave (the tills could be modified to do this automatically).
If you spend under £5 you can buy a ticket at the checkout for £1.50 that you can swipe as you leave.
If you don't swipe a ticket as you leave you may be fined.

Now this will create a queue as you leave, but the benefit is that you're in your car (i.e. the warm); it requires nothing more problematic than those car-parks where you have to take a ticket to enter; doesn't require payment to leave; and you get to keep the ticket.

I think this addresses the problems with the machines; the need to buy a ticket if you're unsure how much time or money you'll be spending; allows redress in case of errors; and means that those using it as a free car-park will be fined automatically.

Can anyone see any flaws?


Dan H said...

I'm sure you're used to me being Mr. One-track by now, so I'll ask the obvious question: what's the cycle provision like? Where is it in relation to the front door and the nearest trolley park? How much use does it get? Does it look tidy or untidy?

FlipC said...

It didn't impinge on my consciousness, so it was either not visible or at least not messy. I'll make a mental note to check next time.