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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Ticketed (and embarrassed) for misunderstanding online permit renewal

I share this story with a certain trepidation about admitting to having been a dummie, but do so because it's unlikely that I'm the only one to have fallen foul of the new online permit renewal system. 

My last resident's parking permit expired on 10th April (yesterday). Having received a reminder, I duly renewed it online on 2nd April. I had at the back of my mind that I would end the process with a printed permit. However, at the end of the online process I wasn't presented with an obvious 'print permit' button or anything. I can't remember exactly why now, but I concluded that the permit would be sent.

This morning a neighbour dinged me on HoL's chat function to alert me to the fact that he'd seen a penalty ticket on my car. I reassured him that it was okay because I'd applied for my renewal. He responded that you can now print them. I thought, "Yeah, that's what I thought". Quite why I didn't question or challenge the failure to be offered a printed permit at the end of my online renewal, I'm not sure, but I didn't. I concluded that my original idea that I'd get a print-out was wrong and put the whole thing to the back of my mind.

Once I'd discovered the error of my ways this morning, I tried to print out my permit online, but was unable to. (I found out later that you only get one chance to do so. Could this be what happened to me; I missed my chance?). So I called the parking permits department and spoke to a helpful young lady who arranged to have a pdf emailed to me. That's now displayed. 

The lady at parking permits also mentioned that lots of people are having a problem printing the permits out. I'm sure some of them will have got tickets like me. That's why I'm risking embarrassment and posting on this. Needless to say, I'd feel aggrieved at having the penalty notice enforced for myself, but I also feel for the others who may have suffered the same fate. Can net-savvy, computer literate me really be the only one?

I'm also wondering about the timing of the ticket. My last permit expired at midnight. My ticket was issued at 08:47. I find it highly unlikely that the wardens inspect the details of every permit on every pass. So, I guess either there's a central flagging system where wardens are alerted to expiring permits or as individuals they're noting permits due for expiry. Whilst their efficiency is to be applauded (and we'd all be delighted if it was replicated in all parts of the Council), I'm not sure that jumping on law-abiding rate-paying residents for a minor infringement with such alacrity sends the right message or builds the right relationship.

It goes without saying that I've appealed against my PCN and I hope posting here won't count against me. Once that's dealt with, I'll no doubt be motivated to find out how widespread the issue of penalty notices occasioned by the new online system is and to beter understand the policy or practice which speeds a warden to my door only hours after my last permit expired.

 

Tags for Forum Posts: parking, parking permits

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Many thanks for this information, Lyn. I'll add it to the points I raised two days ago with senior council officers.

Alan

Online renewals provide a quick and easy way to renew, and over 6,000 residents have used the service during the past 12 months. We acknowledge, and regret, the difficulties that some residents have experienced. The site is reviewed regularly and the council will consider feedback and look at ways of refining the online renewal process.

To clarify the process: the webpage that a customer sees before renewing their permit makes it clear that users must click the 'Finish' button to be able to print. Before proceeding click a box confirming you have read and understood the terms and conditions and then click to proceed with the renewal. Each step must be completed in full.

The council considers each case individually where a customer feels they have been unfairly ticketed. Where there has been a genuine misunderstanding over this printing issue the council may reconsider a penalty charge notice. Each case will be dealt with separately and, unless the council agrees to cancel, penalty charge notices must be paid in order to avoid further charges.

Thanks Gavin (Pressdesk), but it's clearly not clear since the parking department staff are reporting a high number of problems - and it's the only "online purchase" or payment I've made where I've failed to complete. So I hope the Council will review the way this function works.

For the record, I received an email today telling me that my PCN was withdrawn. 

the council will ... look at ways of refining the online renewal process

Refining?!

Would Fixing not be more accurate?

I think many residents might appreciate plain speaking, rather than PR-speak. It has already been disclosed that Civica has been paid £817,000 in the current financial year. For this huge sum – or less  – one might have expected refinement to perfection, already.

Dear Haringey Pressdesk,

As a councillor I think it's commendable to "...acknowledge and regret the difficulties that some residents have experienced". I'm pleased to hear that: "The site is reviewed regularly". And that: "the council will consider feedback and look at ways of refining the online renewal process."

Because when a number of residents are reporting the same or similar problems it strongly appears that there is a problem with the system. Our customers are reporting a pattern of difficulties.

(This is not unusual. Please read Scott Berkun's article The Power of the Usability Lab.)

But please, please, don't bring out the tired old Parking Service mantra that: "Each case will be dealt with separately". Systemic problems aren't solved one-case-at-a-time. Nor by blaming the customers.

The Parking Service, its contractors - and the Pressdesk - must learn from our residents. Which includes being self-critical and honest about how the work works (and sometimes doesn't). So you can fix the system.

And then thank our residents for acting as unpaid guinea pigs and bringing the problems to the Council's attention.

(Tottenham Hale ward councillor)

Stop driving.

Stop parking.

Stop purchasing or paying anything online.

Lower expectations.

Abandon hope in Haringey.

Result: calm - peace - nirvana - heaven - paradise and the hope for at least seventy virgins hereafter.

OAE, I tend to sympathise with your list, but can I add one item?

Motorcycles have no need to subscribe to the council's street-harvesting scheme. Through one imagines, gritted teeth, council operatives will concede that motorcycles are exempt from CPZs (Council Profit Zones). I suppose this is because there's nowhere to tuck the Parking Permit.

Motorcycles are also exempt from inner London's Congestion Charging Zone for a similarly physical reason: the cameras checking numberplates face the oncoming vehicle and expect to have a numberplate facing them, whereas the only number plate on a bike, is at the rear. I understand that if it were physically possible to tax motorbikes, they probably would.

- Car-less Carter

Hugh. You are most certainly not alone on this. It is a right bloody hash!

I am sure you have seen the numerous threads on this issue- http://www.harringayonline.com/forum/topics/parking-permits-again & http://www.harringayonline.com/forum/topics/haringey-s-permit-payme...

I got caught in exactly the same way you did, except I caught my schoolboy error early and emailed Colm.Campbell@haringey.gov.uk and he said he would email the .pdf (which he did not, and which i forgot about as I had done this all a month ahead of time). Anyway, I duly got a ticket. After some panicked emails from me just before Christmas Colm and one of his female colleagues cancelled the 2 tickets I recieved (the second even after putting a note in my windshield saying not to waste time ticketing me)- so you might not have to go through an appeal process. Get them to cancel it in the office as they certainly appear to have that authority! Save yourself the hassle.

If only this bit of the process were as efficeint as the guys dolling out the tickets (I believe I read Green Lanes was the most ticketed stretch of road in the UK recenty...)

Below I have copied an email I sent to Councillors Cunningham and Canver. I have to say I do not recollect a meaningful response, and certaily nothing from either of the two councillors who will be looking for my vote at some point no doubt!

What I find absolutely astonishing is the complete lack of ability to learn and improve. Is this the same throughout the way the council operates?

 

**************************

Dear Mr Guest,

 

Thank you for your e-mail enquiry regarding issues with the Parking Permit Web Interaction. This has been allocated the reference number LBH/0341512 and referred to the appropriate officer to respond to. You should receive a response by the 31st January2012.

 

Yours sincerely

 

John Forde

Technical Support Officer

Haringey Council 

Place & Sustainability Directorate

Single Frontline Services

Unit 271 Lee Valley Techno Park

Ashley Road Tottenham London N17 9LN

0208 489 1901 (phone), 0208 489 5133 (fax)

 


 

From: Justin Guest [mailto:jus@jguest.net]
Sent: 17 January 2012 14:26
To: Cllr Canver Nilgun; Cunningham Ann
Subject: Parking Permit Web Interaction

 

Nilgun, and Ann

 

Hi, I live on Pemberton Road (N4). I had an email from Alan Stanton indicating I should come to you in the first instance in relation to my experiences using the new parking permit renewable and visitor permit purchasing facility. I posted to the following forum on Harringay Online (below), so I will not repeat myself here.

 

Testing of Systems: I could probably be forensic and tell you exactly what happened and what suggestions I made, but broadly I really think you need to test these systems before you go live. The amount of time I (and others) and the council’s officials must be wasting on what I hope are teething problems, and not systemic problems, is simply not appropriate! I could be wrong, but I took from Allan’s communication to me that these systems were not appropriately tested prior to going live (he did not say this was the case, something he said led me to  take this inference away). I would be really worried if the council is putting systems in place with no prior testing of their being fit for purpose

 

Suggestions and Service Improvement: I have suggested I would be happy to beta test some systems (I used to do this for a living in a previous life, and). What strikes me though is the relatively limited impact my suggestions appear to have made on the official I had been communicating with. I have no idea if my hopefully constructive commentary was well received and (critically) acted upon! I think this is one of the worst things about the interaction I had with your officials, that I felt like I was talking to a faceless black box, where ideas went in, and nothing came out- no one seems to take ownership of a problem, it just gets kicked into the long grass and ignored. I could be wrong, but (for example) I see nowhere on the Haringey web site where we as the people who live in Harringay/ Haringey can offer improvement suggestions from this side of the coal face, as it were. It would be nice if when we make a suggestion we felt it went somewhere and someone might actually go, ‘oh, good idea!’…

http://www.harringayonline.com/forum/topics/parking-permits-again

 

 

Thanks for sharing that Justin. I thought I couldn't be the only one.

Pleased to report that the PCN got cancelled last week. No complaints there.

There does seem to be a great opportunity for some service improvement here, along with some good PR. It's a crying shame that the Council won't engage in any of its personas (save for the bearded councillor one).

Hugh I'm pleased that your PCN was cancelled; presumably Parking know you run HoL. But when you say 'no complaints there', I wonder if that is wholely consistent with your lodging an appeal in the first place?

Over the last few years there've been several plaintiff appeals to LBH Parking to exhibit some humanity and reasonableness (or even efficiency). I do wonder if some of the sentiments expressed above represent a triumph of hope over experience.

The Haringey "Officers" who swagger down the road in their (South American Army-style) uniforms and brandishing their lethal AK-PCNs, know they have bye-laws on their side. In a battle there is normally a winner and a loser.

OAE expressed elsewhere a similar sentiment in a different way. I've now accepted that LBH has won and I have lost. I think more need to recognize the futility of appeals to reason.

Thanks Clive. I appealed as Hugh Flouch using my personal email address. I've no idea whether the parking service connects me with HoL or not.

'No complaints' referred to the result of my appeal and the speed with which it was dealt.

Clive, I see you've found  The Motorcycle Diaries and Viva Zapata! in the bargain bin in your local DVD shop.

P.S. Nothing to do with Haringey bye-laws. The PCN racket is national legislation and every political party is complicit in supporting this form of unfair taxation. If you want to join the resistance army contact Barnet CPZ Action.

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