Today, I participated on a panel at Social Media AZ (SMAZ), but this post isn’t about that. After the full day’s event, it was time to go and I was parked in the Chase parking garage. Something was amiss with this one – it lacked any attendants. I dun goofed and lost my parking ticket, invalidated even, and was met with a sense of frustration.
I wasn’t alone – about 60 others were also trying to exit and while they retained their parking tickets, the machines weren’t processing them correctly.
As a result, I had to hack the system. No, I didn’t whip out a magstripe encoder and really hack my way out … I had to depend on social processes to bypass an unreasonable barrier.
Under normal circumstances, the attendant would be able to acknowledge my gaffe of forgetting my parking ticket and charge me the “full day’s” charge of parking. It was my fault and I wouldn’t have a concern paying my stupid tax.
But, there were no attendants. All of SMAZ’s attendees were trying to exit and the parking gates wouldn’t lift. The call buttons didn’t work and resulted in a busy-out DTMF tone. At this point, I stepped out of my vehicle just to see if I had to pay for my parking from scratch from the automated payment machines. Credit card in hand, it was no use because it has a mandatory pre-requisite of feeding it a parking ticket.
At this point, no staffers were available to talk to. I had to figure out a way to exit this parking garage. It was like being locked in a grocery store and starving. I wouldn’t let that happen.
With the keen observation of @AcmePhoto, he spotted two extra parking tickets lying around. Possibly used, expired or whatever, it was a clue on how to escape this parking garage. I then fed the machine this parking ticket and it worked.
The irony is that it was about 70 minutes of billed time on it, so it only charged me $3. Sure beats the $12 I expected to pay.
If that didn’t work, I was going to summon the help of an incoming driver of the garage and have them trigger the ground-loop radar so I can get a ticket. Then make an exit after accruing one minute of time in the garage and exit free.
Why am I telling you all this?
Think about your business. Are you trying to automate every aspect of it? Well, this parking garage did. Not only did I lose any sense of loyalty from it, I aided to the loss of revenue of it. While having staff on the clock costs a business a meager $7 an hour, consider the revenue they actually provide.
Being handicapped from accessing any means of communicating with the staff and paying my way out of this conundrum, I had no other choice.
This is what human business is all about. Human business is there to amend any human errors – your customer’s fault or not. No amount of engineering of machines can address that. In fact, I was surprised I couldn’t just pay for parking time straight up for a full day.