Parking meters

Yesterday I spent a farcical hour wrestling with Montpellier’s parking meter system.

I had booked into an incredibly cheap hotel for the night, rather than return home – and then set off again today to take my plane to Morocco – and I found a parking spot on a busy road near the hotel.

In no hurry – at least at first – I sat in my car and watched a young man try to pay for his parking, and fail. Then I tried, and failed. Each time I got to the end of the convoluted process there was a message « annulation » and I had to remove my card.

I rang the number on the meter and got through to a very nice woman (Moroccan?) who directed me to a nearby meter. Actually I went first to the wrong one, which was not only impossible to read because it was in the full sunshine but also because the instruction screen had been vandalised. I tried to guess what it was saying several times, failed – and went onto the third meter, the one I was supposed to have used.

I failed here too, but as there was by now only an hour before parking was free, I shoved in two euros and retreated, exhausted, to the hotel.

When it works, the system of inserting your bank card, stating how long you want to stay and entering your car’s registration number works well. When it doesn’t you are back in the nightmare world where technology makes thinks harder not simpler.

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