Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Launceston's rip-off car parks to be tamed

Car parks in Launceston which charge drivers when they shouldn't will have their ticket machines changed as a matter of urgency. That's the promise I've just received from Cornwall Council's parking manager. I've also received a promise that any driver who has paid when they shouldn't (and still has the ticket) will get a refund.

The charging hours for Launceston's Cornwall Council owned car parks were changed on May 9th. One of the key changes was that charges now end at 4pm. As I blogged, there are still plenty of people who were putting money in the machines at, say 4.15pm and getting a ticket that said their expiry time was 5.15pm. This was because the programming on the machines had not been altered.

What should have happened is twofold. There should have been a better publicity campaign for the new charging hours and the machines should have provided a ticket indicating an expiry time the next morning.

The Council can't tell me how many people paid when they didn't have to - apparently the machines don't store that information. But I know that there are still people who pay when they don't have to even two months later. These people are being ripped off and Cornwall Council owes them an apology.

As a matter of urgency, officers have agreed to check the ticket machine programming and they have also agreed to provide a refund for anyone wrongly charged. Unfortunately, you will have to produce the ticket and most people will have thrown it away long ago.

Note - The multi-storey car park in Launceston is owned and managed by the Town Council and has different hours and charging. Different parking hours apply in other towns across Cornwall.


Foss said...

I know you've put a lot of work into the Free After Four campaign, and getting them to change the programming on the machines is at least a partial victory. We appreciate all you've done so far - if it wasn't for this blog, I'd not have been passing word on to friends, and they'd still be paying! Cheers :)


Lanson Chamber said...

Thank you for your tenacity on this one Alex.
Is it possible for the machines to show "No Charge" on the window after 4pm? As having the morning printed on the ticket will not stop people putting the money in.

Of course what is really needed as you rightly say is publicity, including some CLEAR AND VISIBLE signs on the boards at each machine.

Alex Folkes said...

The Council's answer about printing a ticket which gives you time the next morning is that drivers often arrive at a car park before charging begins and want to leave their car until later in the morning. They want to be able to pay immediately without having to come back when charging begins.
People might also want to leave their car while they go to the pub and cannot be sure to be able to pick it up early the next morning.
Ideally, drivers should at least get a warning. But the bare minimum is decent publicity.