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Stupid Usability #13

No Money Back For You!

Written By: High Monkey
Posted: 12/23/2013

From the mind of Joel Baglien, VP of Business Growth at High Monkey:

I learned a lesson on a recent trip to San Diego CA - don't pay for beach parking with cash. If anything goes wrong, you will never see your money again.

My wife and I recently visited San Diego for an extended weekend. Like any land-locked Midwestern couple, we craved time with the ocean. We found a nice beach north of San Diego and pulled into the parking lot. It cost $3 per hour to park so we decided to pay for a couple of hours and take a long walk on the beach. As it happened, I had $6 on me - rare since I normally never carry cash. I went over to the parking payment machine and pressed the button for 2 hours and read the screen asking for payment with cash or a credit card. So far so good. I inserted my $5 bill into the slot and it got pulled right in. I inserted my $1 bill into the slot and it went in about three inches and came back out. Did it again, same result. Creased the bill lengthwise, tried it again, came back out. Flattened the bill against the side of the parking payment machine, you guessed it, same result. Tried it another half dozen times, out it came every time. Of course there was a line forming behind me by now. I asked if any of the three people behind me had a dollar bill they could swap with me. All of them were paying with credit cards. *audible sigh at this point*

I decided to give up and use a credit card. The payment machine had no icons, instructions, cues or anything else that said how to get my money back and start over. I even broke the "man code" about asking for help and asked my wife to see if I was missing something obvious - apparently not. I finally pressed the cancel button figuring my $5 was gone for good. To my surprise, a refund ticket came out of the machine (see photo). Of course the only way to get my money back was to call the phone number on the refund ticket. I called the next day - they were pleasant and polite - I'm still waiting. Let's just say my expectations for getting my $5 are very low. No, it's not the money at this point, it's the challenging of fighting against the machine.

I wish I could think of a good fix for this stupid usability situation - I'm not sure there is one. If there was a large warning that said, "If you pay with cash, and something screws up, you may never get your money back. So use a damn credit card already." I probably would have paid attention if I saw a sign with that kind of blunt honesty.

And a note for the State of California Beach Parking Enforcement Agency - I didn't bother to pay for parking with my credit card either. My wife and I gave up, drove further north along the Pacific Ocean and found a much better beach with free parking. So there you stupid parking machine - I win!!!

Chad's Bio Coming Soon!

More About Virgil

Virgil Carroll is the owner and president of High Monkey – based in Minneapolis Minnesota. Virgil also wears the multiple ‘hats’ of Principle Human Solutions Architect and SharePoint Architect.

Virgil is one of those rare individuals who can dive deep into technical topics while speaking clearly to the business owners of a project and never forgetting that the end user experience has the highest priority. He calls it using both sides of his brain. Virgil is passionate about leveraging technologies ‘out of the box’ as much as possible with a focus on the strategic use of content to create websites that deliver the right content to the right audience on the right device at the right time. Virgil brings high energy, an ironic wit, and a sense of grounded perspective whenever he speaks to an audience. Virgil regularly speaks at conferences and user groups throughout the United States and occasionally in Europe.

Posted: 12/23/2013 12:00:00 AM by | with 0 comments