I remember a while back hearing The Boss telling the Missus about PayStay, one of those Apps he has on his phone.
He was all excited about it, telling her that, once you set it up, you just roll into a parking spot, punch in the code number on the sign and hit “Start Parking.”
This clever little App then debits The Boss for the exact amount of time he spends in the car space.
He told her it was a lot better than punching in coins, which are usually lying in the wardrobe at home or in the shed when he needs them. And better than a ticket too, where he has to estimate how long he’d be there.
And some ticket machines would only accept certain coins, or wouldn’t accept a card.
So, PayStay was the answer, the bees’ knees. And it’s all over Melbourne and in other regional cities. “It’s quick, it’s easy and it saves money,” says The Boss cheerily.
Well, I could see this was all too good to be true. When The Boss gets enthusiastic about something, sure as eggs he’s going to come a cropper – just for being so full of himself.
Which is what happened. After a few weeks of using this clever little App he comes back to his car and finds a parking ticket on the windscreen. He was outraged - in that special way that I witness from time to time - and fumbled for his phone, hit the PayStay button and there, blinking…was the red “Start Parking” button.
Which he’d failed to press.
Serves him right, I thought. I mean, I don’t use these Apps myself but I always like to finish the job, whatever it is. He could learn more from me.
Then he admits sheepishly to the Missus that he's had a few parking sessions where he forgot to punch the “Stop Parking” button, so it charges him the maximum time. At least three he says. Which probably means six.
But he sticks with it – because it’s such a good idea. So next thing is, he’s down at the Palais car park in St Kilda for an old mate’s birthday lunch before Christmas. He’s driving the Missus’s car because, well, she’s going to be driving home and there’s a chance he’ll relax with his mates. A good chance.
He punches in the PayStay number and heads to the lunch, returning a few hours later to…a ticket on the windscreen. After a few jars, you can imagine he’s apopleptic – I’ve seen this myself. He punches the App to check the “Start Parking” button and, sure enough, he did! He has the “Stop Parking” button still blinking in front of his beady eyes to prove it.
But this clever little App has the car’s rego number already logged in – as in, the number for his car, not her car. Bang. Another $83 down. He could learn a lot from me.
The Boss isn’t giving up. He tracks down the details of his parking payment to the City of Port Phillip and writes off seeking a review, in a polite sort of way, he tells me.
He sends off the paid invoice and the details of both cars, points out that the City of Port Phillip received the money it was entitled to and they could give him a break for making an honest mistake… a mistake that cost the City of Port Phillip absolutely nothing. They got the money.
Well, I knew he wasn’t going to get any joy. Some little creep sitting there at his desk at the Port Phillip Council has a chance to stick it into a visitor from the bush and what’s he going to do, with a grin on his face?
You know the answer, I know the answer. Bill, the Appeals Officer at the Port Phillip council says, in that mealy-mouthed bureaucratic way : “I understand you started a parking session with the incorrect vehicle registration, however this cannot be considered as grounds to withdraw the infringement…”
“So why can’t it be considered, General?” The Boss asks me. “If I’d bought a ticket instead, the vehicle registration would be irrelevant. And their records show that I paid them for the car that was there – they got the money!”
The Boss isn’t happy. He asked me to thank Bill for being a miserable and unfeeling wretch. Woof.