Car park fees

A couple of days ago I parked - in a car park I know well - where the first hour is free. The second hour or part of is $4.60.
I drove to the exit very close to the one hour mark (say 58 mins) and expected not to be charged. I have done this before without a hitch.

Imagine my surprise when I am confronted with a message, at the exit, to pay $4.60.
Unhappy, I tap my CC but nothing happens. I tap again and again. Finally it registers.
I await a receipt. That finally appeared indicating that I parked for 61 mins.
I do not believe I parked for 61 mins and I do not believe that I should be charged.

My complaint to the car park operator elicited the following:

Please note that the ticket will still accumulate time even while it is in the machine, this includes if the ticket is in the machine, and you are about to pay.

The timer only stops once the card has been read by the reader, then the new timer starts for your exit time.

As I read it, the “reader” can take all the time it wants until it reads my CC and that will determine the duration of my parking.
The fact that I was at the boom gate within the free period seems to be immaterial.
Are such rules/protocols fair dinkum?

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I always allow extra time to get the car to the exit where there is a time limit to free parking 10 minutes typically. Having to wait for other cars in the exit queue, traffic within the car park, other customers with trolleys walking down the traffic lane, the car in front having issues and waiting on the attendant to answer the call button or something else.

When I do need to pay I usually do so at a kiosk before going to the car. The time charged is only up until I put the ticket in the kiosk. There’s an allowance to exit there after. Sometimes I win just getting to the kiosk before the next whole hour. In those instance by the time I reach the exit and certainly over the paid time, the boom gate has never stopped me. Swings and round abouts.

On the rare occasion there has been some issue at the exit boom gate I’ve always used the call feature and waited for the person on the other end. I’d expect given the choice of opening the gate or having a long chat over the margin of a minute or two and holding up others common sense would prevail. The operator at the other end likely has many other duties to attend to and also cannot afford to waste time.

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Not always easy. I was in the Melbourne airport car park and drove around looking for an open park, and drove and drove with an available park never found and tried to exit. They wanted me to pay for the car park tour and I declined being just over the free 20 minutes of time wasting including some in the already clogged exit queue. After much to and fro I suggested to the ‘helpful staff’ on the intercom that there was a long and building line of cars queued waiting and no way could I back up away from the gate to continue the ‘enjoyable conversation’ and they needed to look at the relevant camera. By the time the ‘helpful staff’ backed down and let me out the line of increasingly irritated drivers behind me was epic.

Many don’t realise paying at a kiosk also grants exit time afterwards. The same parking time paid at the gate could cross the hour line and cost more, no leeway given.

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It’s a good idea to get in touch on the intercom while at the car park to sort out any issues:
I’d been in a big shopping complex in the morning and in the afternoon visited a friend who asked me to be dropped off at that same shopping centre to pick up their car being serviced there. I only stopped for a minute to say goodbye and drove to the exit but the machine was asking for payment as if I had overstayed the whole free time limit (3 hours). I guess the LPR system got confused with my morning parking hours earlier.
A call on the intercom sorted it out quickly.

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The duration of your stay is defined as the interval between the time the ticket was generated as you entered and the time it was scanned as you leave. To imagine that it would be any other time interval, such when your vehicle was stationary between the lines in a parking place, is both contrary to the terms and entirely unrealistic. You need to be on your way and out before that interval exceeds the free period or pay.

It comes down to the question of whether the interval between machine actions can be called parking. Perhaps if the signage was altered to say “presence on the property” instead of “parking” you would be happier. But you would still need to be out the gate before the timer hit 61 minutes.

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Every parking ticket we have ever been issued (hand written or machine printed) has the time stamp on the ticket. The time on the ticket is based on the time measurement system used by the carpark. One needs to check their watch/phone/etc when passing the entry the as there can often be a discrepancy of a minute or two between the ticket time stamp and one’s own time keepers.

If one uses the time stamp time and then uses their watch/phone/etc to determine the length of time, it is likely that if ‘one cuts it fine’, one will be caught out from time to time by staying more than 60 minutes, 3600 seconds or 1 hour. 1 hour and one second means the next hour is triggered and in the case of the first hour being free, parking charges will then be applied at the rate specified by the carpark owner.

When ever we take up the free parking period, we always ensure that there is a buffer of about 10 minutes between the stamped time on the ticket and when we leave through the gate. We have never had the problem of being charged for time exceeding the free parking time period.

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Thanks for the response. I have one comment. You wrote:
When I do need to pay I usually do so at a kiosk before going to the car. The time charged is only up until I put the ticket in the kiosk. There’s an allowance to exit there after

I am informed that in some car parks that is the case and in some it is not the case. For instance, say you check the parking ticket in a kiosk 55 mins after arrival. If you exit the boom gate (given a line of cars ahead of you or if you dash back to a store for a few mins) after 1 hr has clicked past you would be charged for part of the second hour.
It would be great if any period of grace offered was broadcasted to the public.

It seems you’re correct. The key “scanning” seems to be the reader at the exit. Hence checking a ticket at a kiosk has one purpose: to indicate the time parked until the ticket was read by the kiosk. The exit reader decides a parking fee is to be levied.

For more ‘completeness’ on the topic it is also common for electronically monitored spaces, usually but not exclusively street parking managed by councils, to ‘start the clock’ when the vehicle enters the parking spot, not when a ticket is purchased or a payment is made via an app. One can have minutes remaining on the ‘stamped time’ yet receive a penalty for overstaying based on when the vehicle physically began parking. 1P means 1P, not 1P plus the time to find a machine and scroll through menus to buy a ticket.

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Some don’t use tickets at all but scan your numberplate in and then out and lift the barrier or present a bill according to the elapsed time measured that way.

Most carpark which use kiosks on entrances to the carpark give specified timeframes between payment at the console and when one must exit the carpark. The last one I can recall gave 15 minutes (signage on the kiosk and from memory notification in the screen during the payment process). 15 minutes waa very generous and expect it is to cover the worst possible situation say in peak hour when a larger number of vehicles are departing the carpark. I say generous as we would have departed within a 5 minutes from when we paid.

The parking duration and charges were based on entry time stamp and when payment was made. While this particular carpark didn’t have any free allowance, the same would apply to those which did. I don’t know what happens if the 15 minutes allowed to exit is exceeded - I suspect additional charges would apply.

Our local airport carpark has 30 minutes free parking before charges apply. The signage is clear that one must leave before 30 minutes is up. If one wants to cut it fine in relation to being at the gate a few seconds before free parking allowance runs out, it invariably will result in the free parking time being exceeded by a few seconds from time to time. Thus charges applied. It is playing Russian Roulette with the times.

I look at it like the old style street parking meters. If a parking compliance officer walked up to a meter which the expired sign flicked up 1 second before looking at it, would they wait beside the car for a period of time (say a grace period) before issuing an infringement notice - I don’t think so. The car was parking illegal as soon as the expired sign flicked up. If one wishes to push the boundaries and hope just being over the metered time is okay and won’t result in a fine being issued, all I can say is good luck and expect being caught out at times.

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If one pays at the kiosk payment has been accepted. Does the operator know at the time of calculating the payment due some time will elapse (minutes or a longer) for that vehicle to exit?

Of course they do. What ever is reasonable for that car park facility it’s only ever needed the person on the call button twice in memory. Once when delays were due to the ticket reader at the exit and another due to a traffic delay in the CP that went well past usual (Brisbane Airport at Xmas peak). Perhaps I’m too trusting? One day it may be different. The glass is half full.

If one pays on exit one takes one’s chances to the second.

P.S.
I prefer the kiosk for receipt purposes. Although for electronic metered street parking it is already cashless and for some sites paperless. Others still issue a dashboard display paper docket.

Always the odd exception to reasonableness, and reasonable is whether you are the car park management/owner or the driver. One example close to home

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and 2 from the UK

Just getting done for an extra hour could be petty change compared to what could happen?

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Worth a longer read. From another source. A debacle yes. Jan 2014 how relevant today?

It sounds like the customers paid prior to the exit gate or getting to their vehicles and had 10 mins to exit. The assumption here is the queues on the one exit pushed customers past 10 minutes causing the whole system to fail.

Ultimately most of those trapped exited handing their paid cards to the attendant/s who were encouraged by Police to open the boom gate. Not however to let customers exit without handing over their paid for card. No mention of needing to pay extra. Perhaps the other headline is a little misleading? Handing your paid ticket to the attendant rather than the machine which would refuse it! How it went for those who abandoned all hope and caught a tram home we don’t know.

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It reminds me of trying to leave a multistorey shopping centre carpark immediately after a hail storm in Brisbane many years ago. There were cars everywhere, including temporarily parked up in the carpark access ways. It took a long time before everything was cleared.

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Ooo sneaky!

I have had exactly this happen in Melbourne, where there was a boom gate failure and although mechanics arrived fairly quickly to try and fix it, that took over 3/4hr and so I was charged an extra $16 for finally getting out … Paying for their fault… …

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