Two Dollars

This is about why it’s important to keep customers happy.

I parked my car at the Sky City car park. That’s pretty normal. I went and did some stuff, then headed back to my car. On the way back I stopped off at a machine to pay what was due on my ticket. It said I had $3.00 owing. I didn’t have enough coins, so I attempted to feed a $5.00 note into the note-taking part of the machine. It didn’t seem to be working, so I took my card back, went back to my car and drove off to the pay booth.

Righto, so far it’s a pretty normal situation. It would have taken me less than five minutes to get from the pay machine to the booth. I handed the attendant my ticket, and had the $5.00 note ready to pay for my fee. He said “That’ll be five dollars” and took the note. I looked at the digital screen. It also showed $5.00 owing.

Trying to get the guy’s attention, I yelled out “hey”, but processing the transaction inside the booth he did not hear me. Then he came to the window and I pointed out that the ticket machine had given me a price that was $2.00 cheaper. He explained that from the short time it had taken me to go from the machine to the booth, a time period had ticked over, meaning an extra charge had occurred.

But hold on, if I’d been able to pay for my ticket at the machine, I would have only had to have paid $3.00, not $5.00. He said that I should have told him that before I paid him.

Well ok, but I wasn’t expecting to be charged a higher amount. I had held out the $5.00 note to him with the expectation that it would be paying for a $3.00 parking fee. I explained this to him, but he kept saying that I should have told him first.

I asked if it was possible for him to just give me the $2.00 back in the interests of customer goodwill, you know, keeping me happy. He said no. I asked if he had a supervisor that he could check with. He said he was his own supervisor, but could not permit himself to give me a refund.

But this stage he was getting visibly annoyed with me. He kept interrupting me when I was trying to explain my situation and was quite rude and condescending towards me. He said if he gave me the $2.00 back that the till would be out. So it seemed that he was more concerned with the till balancing than with keeping a customer happy. Oh, mighty two dollars.

I offered to write a note of explanation so if anyone questioned him on a $2.00 difference, it could be explained, but he refused this offer. He seemed firmly set in his mind that he was Right and I was Wrong and that there could be no negotiation.

By this stage I was getting fairly annoyed, so I turned off my car’s engine and said I wasn’t prepared to leave until I had received my $2.00 back. He said he’d call a tow truck in and get me towed away. He continued to explain that if I’d told him before I’d paid he would have been able to have to put the transaction through at $3.00, but as I hadn’t told him until after, there was absolutely no way at all that he could refund me.

About three cars were then waiting behind my stationary vehicle. The driver of one, obviously impatient, tooted the car’s horn. Then all of a sudden the booth attendant decided to give me that $2.00 back! Hallelujah!

But the refund was not without a stern lecture. He said he was only giving it back because there were other cars waiting to go through, and that if the same situation happened again I wouldn’t be getting a refund. He seemed to think that he had been far more inconvenienced than I had. He grudgingly handed over a golden $2.00 coin.

I drove off satisfied that a pleasing resolution had been reached, but disappointed that it had taken such drawn out dramatics from the attendant to reach it. I’m sure I’ll park my car there again, but next time I will be wary and cautious.

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