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Parking Machines Design Mistakes

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Time for another design mistake! We spent a week at the seaside but were reluctant to cross country borders due to “these times”. Not having to fumble in rusty French does make things a little bit better. Not having to install anything special on our smartphones to park too, since it was still in Flanders, and all these parking machines operate the same way.

Right? Wrong.

Translated: 'Park easily and quickly via your smartphone'. Yeah right.

Until now, anytime we need to dump the car on a paid parking space within Flanders, we’ve successfully used the 4411 system. The sites states:

Pay your mobility with óne app. In more than 200 cities!

My wife usually takes care of these things, because as I mentioned before, apps make me sneeze. Until we arrived at our destination and wanted to do the same, that is. This parking lot uses the “Park Mobile” system and not the “4411” system. Thus, you’ll need to install yet another app that asks yet again for a bunch of inappropriate personal data before you can even activate the parking meter. I was surprised that they didn’t ask for our social security number. Must have been another design mistake.

A few days later, we’re strolling around in a nearby city, just fifteen kilometers away, also on the shoreline. Guess which parking system the encountered parking strip utilizes? Yet another one. What the frick? Within a radius of 10 km? That’s just stupid.

Of course I’m not against healthy competitions or a free market when it comes to parking systems. But that does not mean your end user should suffer. It would not be too difficult to come up with an open protocol that both companies can implement, meaning we as visitors from another province (or even closer by) should not need to switch apps. We don’t live there: we won’t be using the Park Mobile system again any time soon. Perhaps next year.

In the end, we went with the easiest solution. I whipped out my Maestro card and paid manually. That’ll teach them.

Do you see where my app allergy comes from? All these different mobile-enabled pay systems, that are supposed to help ease the “pain of payment”, only make things worse. Buy stuff in one shop, and you need Payconiq. Go to another one, and they use QFPay. Remember money? You know, those rectangular notes that one exchanges for goods? That system is what is called universal. That was the reason why the Euro was introduced.

Fragmentation of electronic pay systems is a nightmare, and it seems to be getting worse.

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I am glad that it is not just me who has issues with the HP Sprocket and the dependency on an app. Also appreciated your thoughts on parking machines too.

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I'm Wouter Groeneveld, a Brain Baker, and I love the smell of freshly baked thoughts (and bread) in the morning. I sometimes convince others to bake their brain (and bread) too.

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