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Where to park in Guildford? Or not park...

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Where to park in Guildford? Or not park...

Guildford Borough Council shows poor customer service and initiative.

There are many places to park in Guildford depending on if you wish to stay for a few hours and do some shopping (Bedford Road Car Park, Farnham Road Car Park, York Road Car Park) or if you would like to spend the day out in Guildford (the Park and Ride from the Guildford Spectrum or park at Guildford Park Car Park behind Guildford Train Station).

At the cost of £4.50 a day Guildford Park Car Park is by far not the cheapest place to park in Surrey. But it is a convenient place to park and allows for an all day rate rather than by the hour. The downside to parking here is that there is no change given by the parking machines so make sure you have £4.50 in exact change. A repeating story across nearly all pay and display parking machines.

Sadly the ticket machines operating in the Car Park are not particularly reliable and that is when you have a problem. You need to ring Guildford Borough Council's Parking Department to seek help.

The well advertised number (0800 917 66 55) puts you through to the most uncourteous members of society. Speaking at you in foul tongue they make their mission to make you feel ridiculous for putting money in to an 'out of order' machine.

The conversation follows along the lines of
  • "The machine has eaten my money. I have put two £2 coins in and it will not return my money. I have now noted the machine is flashing out of order"
  • "If the machine is out of order why did you put your money in"
  • "Because the out of order ("Not in use") sign is very small on the display"
  • "Well when I use a ticket machine I make sure that the machine is registering the money I put in"
  • "The machine was not returning my money so I assumed that it was accepting it"
  • "What time does it say on the right hand side of the machine"
  • "Seven forty - it's either a three or an eight the display isn't working correctly"
  • "Well that means it has been out of order for 40 minutes. There's no excuse."
At this point the man will be laughing at you. Thankfully to take the pressure off other car park users around you will be nodding and agreeing with you. The idea that if this is considered to have been out of order for a reasonable amount of time that you should notice not to insert your coins would surely also mean that they have not reacted quickly enough to fixing it?

Eventually if you stay on the phone line long enough (bare in mind that 0800 numbers are chargeable from mobile phone so this 'helpful' line is more at cost to a mobile user than a landline number) you will be told that "On this occassion I will make a note of your registration plate and vehicle model to pass on to the parking inspectors".

Considering this car park is generally used by repeat clients Guildford Borough Council should be looking to keep them happy in return for their potential £1,170 a year takings from the average commuter.

The RingGo Service

There is a great scheme run by other boroughs locally (including Kingston) and elsewhere in the United Kingdom (even Devon and Cornwall) called RingGo. This service attached to your credit card allows you to
  • Identify the car park you're parked in using a numeric code.
  • Pay for parking using either a text message or their Android/iPhone mobile phone applications.
  • Keep track of how long you have left by text notifications and/or looking at the application.
  • Top up your parking if you're going to be late back to the car on the go avoiding those couple of minute late parking offences.
It does come with a surcharge cost but the convenience factor is worth it. For those that park in all day car parks this stops you being hindered by making certain that you have enough change each morning to pay for your parking.

This was suggested to the Guildford Borough Council Parking Office Representative. His comment was "We don't want to do that" followed by ending the phone call.

The service within Surrey is currently used mainly along the South West Trains rail line where car parks operated by South West Trains can use this service. The map below shows the railway station car parks that can use the RingGo service.

Guildford Parking RingGo locations

With Surrey County Council's plans to introduce on-street parking around Surrey it would be advised to Guildford Borough Council to improve their customer service as well as improve the car park service they're are offering.

Have you had any bad experiences of parking machines eating your money or Guildford Borough Council's Parking Department offering poor customer service? Let us know!

Posted By Stuart Lawrence
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