(Image of Tron Guy taken by Scott Beale / Laughing Squid)
I’ve never liked NCP carparks, they have always seemed overly expensive compared to other places to park in towns. They also tend to have new innovative features such as requiring £9 in cash or non-working credit card based parking meters.
The other night I had the entertainment of trying to use their phone based payment system after failing to find £4.30 of change for a few hours parking.
It’s a fun game, stood in a carpark trying to talk to a computer that does voice recognition to work out your car’s registration number, colour and make. I tried, it misheard me and asked how long I wanted to park my black Landrover for (how it got that from ‘silver Citroen’ I will never know!). Hanging up had the Wargames style situation of when I rang back it continued from where it’d left off!
Eventually I managed to get it to understand me, and I hung up £4.70 (yes, it cost more than the actual machine) poorer, but with car parking for two days, despite only asking for four hours.
Voice recognition systems seem to be getting better, but that now means people try to get them interpreting meaning as well as just accepting voice input from a limited vocabulary. I used to phone up for credit card authorisations when I worked in a shop. They were quite good, you could rattle out a monotone string of numbers at high speed and the voice software on the other end of the phone would understand. Phone Microsoft to tell them your XBox 360 is dead and you end up speaking to some voice agent that doesn’t understand “My XBox 360 has three red lights”.
The carpark people have an iPhone app, I installed it. Next time I should be slightly better prepared for this. I might even manage to buy parking for a sensible amount of time.
I’m off to drink my cup of “Tea, oil ghee yacht”.