Parking by phone

Mobile technology


I got a Red Letter Day gift for my birthday a while ago and booked a half hour head and shoulder massage session for two. Daughter one agreed to accompany me despite the fact that it stated that you should bring your swimming costume and daughter one has not been near a pool for many years. “It’ll be great,” I said. “You will really relax.” Daughter one has been a bit on edge of late due to her impending exams. So we got up early on Saturday and headed off. We hit traffic early on. I’d written down the directions on the back of an envelope and daughter one was the navigator. This is rarely a good recipe. We arrived at the ‘spa’ about five minutes before the massage session was due to begin.

I parked in the car park behind the leisure centre and went to pay. The car park had been taken over by RingGo. I have yet to encounter a mobile parking system that actually makes life easier despite the fact that this is the bold claim in RingGo’s strapline. I rang the number on the board and keyed in my location. The bot on the end of the line seemed to remember me from last time. It quoted back my bank card number which had expired. I entered my new card number. So far so good. I booked three hours of parking time. Who knows – maybe I could tempt daughter one into going swimming after the massage. It was a long shot, but you have to cover for every contingency. I put through the payment. The bot announced that I had successfully booked my car and it quoted the registration number. It was for my car. I had come in my partner’s car so he could load mine up and take it to the dump.

I went back into the app to add a car. It asked me for a password. I guessed one because there is no earthly way to remember all of them when these days I can’t even remember yesterday. Wrong! I asked it to reset the password. Then once I had got into my email and clicked the reset link, it asked me for my car’s registration number. By then I was slightly stressed, fearing we had missed the entire massage session. I entered the registration number wrongly. The app informed me that I was locked out of my account. NOOOOOOOOOO. I decided that the spa might have a number for RingGo so I could speak to an actual person to explain what had happened and sort it all out quickly. We went in.

There was a long queue for the swimming pool. Eventually we found an assistant who directed us to the spa. They gave me a number to ring, but there was no mobile reception in the spa so we left to ring the number. I was informed it would cost over one pound fifty a minute on the line. We were put through to an automated message – the office was only open from Monday to Friday. There was no other way of contacting RingGo. The spa woman said there was another car park down the road, but it might also be subject to RingGo. She could reschedule the massage, but we would have to have it separately. I decided that this was not perhaps the relaxing day I had been anticipating and told daughter one we were leaving.

We drove home in silence. Four hours or so later I got an automated email from Red Letter Days asking me how my day had gone.  One day we will all be locked out of our own lives and replaced by impersonators who are more efficient versions of ourselves.

*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of

Comments [1]

  • Marianne says:

    I would have made a decision to chance getting a fine. Lots of automated car parks don’t mind when you pay, so long as it is before you leave the car park. I always pay at the end of my trip rather than when I first park. Plus if you consciously decide that you will be paying a fine, it somehow makes you feel free and you don’t mind paying. Plus take the long view- fate often conspires so that I don’t buy a parking ticket, but over the course of my life-time I feel confident that in fines vs chances, I am still on a net win. That’s my advice!

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