Drivers have been left ‘annoyed’ and ‘frustrated’ after problems with a new pay system at a Horsham car park.
The Smart Park system was launched in Piries Place Car Park on Tuesday, March 17, by Horsham District Council (HDC) and since its arrival members of the public say they have suffered the brunt of problems with the new service.
It is always the customers that take the brunt of the inconvenience.Bryan Davies, motorist
The system has already been installed in both the Swan Walk Car Park, in Albion Way, and The Forum Car Park, in Blackhorse Way. After initial teething problems, both seem to be working well, users say.
Cameras are used to scan number plates as drivers enter with customers using their number plate details to pay for their stay instead of tickets.
Bryan Davies, from Horsham, used the Piries Place Car Park on the Tuesday the system was installed and said he had no problem entering or leaving. However, when using the car park again on the Friday a problem occurred.
He explained: “I paid and got out without any problem on Tuesday. I went in again at around 6.30pm on the Friday.
“However, on Friday when I put my number in I had to pay £11 because the machine said I had been there since Tuesday and I hadn’t left.”
Mr Davies said he pressed the help button but no-one answered and ended up having to pay the £11 on his credit card.
He continued: “What happens if you don’t turn up with that much cash or without a credit card?
“What happens when you are an older lady and you are on your own? It is always the customers that take the brunt of the inconvenience. This sort of thing should not have happened. It is annoying when this happens late at night and it is disheartening when you can’t get through to anyone who could help.”
A spokesperson for HDC said the problem had occurred due to a system error.
They added: “The council has contacted the payment machine supplier who have rectified this particular error and have wiped any car registration numbers that were still held on their systems from Tuesday 17 March to ensure this situation does not happen again.”
David Gardiner, from Southwater, spent 45 minutes trying to leave the car park last Thursday.
He said the first problem he encountered was with the pay machine which kept entering the wrong numbers as he tried to put in his number plate.
After paying for his parking he and his wife tried to exit the car park but the barriers would not open.
On returning to the machine to find out why they were unable to leave they were charged another £4.20, so called the helpline.
“The person said over the phone the machine can not be wrong,” he said. “We had only been there an hour or so, so it should only have been £1 or something.”
He said he was also told the original payment may have gone through but if the sun was shining on his number plate the camera may not have been able to pick it up.
Mr Gardiner added: “We were really annoyed because we were hanging around in the car park for the best part of three quarters of an hour trying to get out.”
The County Times asked Horsham District Council to respond to the issues raised, but had not received a response for publication at the time of going to press.
There were also complaints about delays at Piries Place Car Park over the weekend. Malcolm Rawlins used the car park on Saturday.
He said: “Having parked, I realised that there were huge queues at each of the pay machines, I would estimate 30 to 40 people in each queue. I had a brief conversation with some of the frustrated people in one of the queues, and they were not happy bunnies.”
He said car park staff opened the barriers to deal with the queues.
HDC has apologised for the delays and said the problem had been caused by an incident in Swan Walk Car Park. The incident caused the car park to close creating more traffic at other car parks in the town.