Technology; it’s here to help us. Yeh, right.

Posted by Voipfone on November 27, 2010

The car park at my train station used to be quite sensible and quite efficient. You drove in through barriers that lifted when you took your ticket, then you find a space and park. On your return you put your ticket in a machine that charged you for your stay and drove out using the receipted ticket to lift the barrier. So far, so ordinary.

Yesterday though everything changed. Gone are the barriers and payment machines and in their place are cameras with number plate recognition systems.

Now I drive in, park, get on my train and then I have to deal with the payment bureaucracy.

I can do this by phone – either SMS or phone keypad – or on the web. So I get out my shiny new iPhone 4 knowing that I have more technology available in the palm of my hand than the entire NASA Apollo project and with it I can conquer the world, starting with this car park.

First I have to find the number to call which means getting onto the web. In theory this is easy – I have 3G and a data contract so off we go to:

Well it would be great if I can stay connected for more than a minute at a time and when connected actually get something downloaded. It took almost 20 minutes just to get to the number I needed to call.

Then I need to register and enter my car registration number, credit card details and the amount of time I want to purchase at the car park.

So we now have the stay connected on a moving train problem again but with the added interest of having to enter a 16 digit credit card number, a 4 digit card date, a 3 digit security code and a 7 digit car registration number via a touch sensitive screen on a train travelling at 80mph on rails that are 100 years old.

Such fun.

Reader, I can tell you that it’s almost, but, not quite impossible – like killing the boss at the end of a good computer game. It takes many attempts and many failures before finally succeeding.

And like all good games there’s a time limit – you must register your car and pay for your parking within an hour of arriving at the car park.

Or else what?

Well that crafty number plate recognition system will have a quiet word with the government vehicle licensing computer, get your address and send you a nice penalty notice.

Isn’t technology great?

ps – do you remember anyone asking us if it would be ok for companies to access our private data held on government data bases so that they can send us big bills? No, me neither

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