Chalkley’s crap Verrus Pay By Phone system goes tits up!

Today we started getting lots of our readers sending us messages that the Verrus Pay By Phone system had broken again. The much hated system, but loved by Westminster City Councils Councillor Chalkley, went into melt down this morning leaving thousands of motorists and bike riders at risk of receiving a PCN. If only Westminster City Council had picked the good pay by phone system, instead they went for the rubbish Verrus system.

Motorists, which now include motorbike and scooter riders arriving in Westminster today found the Pay By Phone parking number constantly engaged. Our readers who phoned the councils parking department directly were told to drive to the nearest one stop shop to purchase a parking card or try to find a ticket machine, if they could. But central London’s last coin-operated parking meter was taken off the streets of Westminster in May 2009, as Cllr Chalkley heralded his crap brave new cashless parking scam.

Now it’s the public who have to pick up the bill in their time and phone credits waiting for Westminster’s Switchboard operators to answer the phone. Operators are telling customers that Civil Enforcement Officers have been asked not to issue PCN’s whilst the system remains down. But motorists are expected to check every 30 minutes in case the broken Verrus system is fixed. Once the system comes back up Westminster parking department will then only consider appeals to PCN’s issued by their keen as mustard traffic wardens.

Nutsville asks why is the motorist expected to use up their time and money checking if the councils crap system is working again, obviously the councils considers they have nothing else better to do. No one in Westminster’s greedy parking department could make a decision to suspend the issuing of PCN’s for a day then?

Of course none of this will be of any concern to Cllr Chalkley, as he has is own free parking permit, so why should he care what inconvenience his ill-considered decisions cause Londoners.

One biker has even sent us a recording of the advice given to him by Westminster Council. This reader has had to defend many badly issued PCN’s in the past, and has no confidence that Westminster’s CEO’s will be able to refrain from issuing tickets in their drive to earn extra overtime. We have edited the recording to remove the names of the call operators and the music on hold. Download here. Needless to say without any guarantees that he would not get a PCN and also being expected to call Westminster every half hour he decided to spend his money in Camden instead. Pay By Phone does not work for bike parking, how many examples will it take before Chalkley can ever understand.

Yes keep going with your crack pot schemes Chalkley, your make Westminster a no go area soon enough.

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20 Comments

AdamAugust 11th, 2009 at 5:39 pm

I spent half a bloody hour trying to get through to them this morning. Then I had to phone a premium rate number to get the main council phone number. I was also told i would have to keep phoning the parking number to check when THEIR computers were back working. I had to go to a meeting and they expect me to phone them up during the meeting. Their whole system stinks, no other way to pay their bloody tax.

2bikersAugust 11th, 2009 at 9:42 pm

I was wondering why so many bikers and scooters were on the phone today, no wonder ! How much time and money is this failed system costing us ?
Verrus should compensate bikers for the stress, expenses,etc…

Jamie ManningAugust 11th, 2009 at 11:56 pm

I think if the system is down and we are unable to pay for parking, Westminster council should allow free parking for the rest of the day. We can’t seriously be expected to keep calling them all day to see if they have fixed their problem. I’m not allowed to use my phone at work so what am I supposed to do?

RobinAugust 12th, 2009 at 2:09 pm

The problems yesterday were cause by an outage at a BT exchange – regrettable but very little that we at Verrus could do about this. I’m concerned to read your comment about ‘the rubbish Verrus system’ – all the research that we do shows that the overwhelming majority of our customers hugely appreciate the service that we provide. As always we welcome suggestions as to how we can improve our service – and would be pleased to receive your thoughts on this and happy to meet up if you like – just get in touch at uksupport@verrus.com

The OneAugust 12th, 2009 at 3:16 pm

Robin – have you canvassed motorcyclists on their opinion of the pay-by-phone system?

Most of the riders I know have said that it takes ages to get through. Also when it is wet and cold and you are standing out in the open with your mobile and credit card in hand (which the police advise you not to do!!) it is the worst system you can imagine. If you leave your P2W even for a few minutes to get in the dry and then make the call you can bet you last dollar that their will be a PCN on it by the time your return. Further as you have no option for daily parking but to pay by text this system is surely discrimatory against those who do not have a mobile. Yes they could park in the free spaces provided by WCC by why should they be forced to park further away from where thay want to be, whats more I bet when there is a way for a mobile to receive a signal in the underground car parks then the carge will be introduced there as well.

Mike JAugust 12th, 2009 at 3:23 pm

I would have thought that a NON “rubbish” system would have automated routing to a backup exchnage to cover for this sort of circumstance for such a vital system at peak usage time (although obviously I do not know the full extent of the issues), but the fact that the “system” was “down” for such an extended period is extremely worrying, especially when the result is that people who are trying to follow the rules end up being penalised with Penalty Charge Notices from Westminster Council’s CEOs?

Possibly a significant portion of any “blame” should actually lie with Westminster Council, as in the event of a serious failure of the ONLY method of paying for parking for many of their customers, surely they should take the initiative in alleviating the concerns of those customers, rather than their pathetic suggestions that everyone should try phoning in every half hour, or go to a One Stop Shop (there are only three, anyway), and instead just announce a moratorium on PCNs for the day. Or, maybe they should have got the specification of the Pay by Phone system right?

Ogri GrindstaffAugust 12th, 2009 at 3:29 pm

This is for Robin, who claims that, “..all the research that we do shows that the overwhelming majority of our customers hugely appreciate the service that we provide.”

It’s a screen-grab from the London Informer who ran a poll to guage reaction to Pay By Phone Parking.

http://i41.photobucket.com/albums/e282/mrxt500/londoninformerpoll.jpg

Perhaps when Verrus collapses as a result of our actions Robin could get a job a Westminster City Council – his skill at bullshitting the people he’s supposed to be serving will be appreciated there.

AdamAugust 12th, 2009 at 4:07 pm

Thanks for your offer to meet up Robin, I and many others will be attending this Sundays demonstration in Victoria Street London, outside Westminster City Hall. Please do come along and canvas our opinion. I do not speak for the NoTo committee, but I feel sure there will be many attending willing to discuss the Veruss Pay By Phone system and why we think it is not suitable for PTW use.

Please do try to attend, we are not the animals that Westminster have tried to portray us as.

ConsideringLeavingAugust 12th, 2009 at 5:37 pm

Hi Robin,

You don’t carry out research of all your customers, that’s plain to see.

What you do is ask people, who are mainly car drivers, if they like the system and, of course, they do. They can ‘top up’ from their meeting when before ‘meter feeding’ was illegal. They can sit in the car when it’s raining and sort out their parking. It’s wholly more convenient for them.

For bikers though it’s wholly inconvenient, in fact it’s discriminative, unfair and a charge we’ve never had to pay. I can understand Verrus stonewalling that though, after all, they do stand to earn quite a bit of money for all this don’t they?

What’s the Verrus cut Robin?

2bikersAugust 12th, 2009 at 5:43 pm

The biggest mistake Verrus ever made is letting Westminster introduce this “system” for motorcycles and scooters. The bad publicity has only just started, I have been flyering motorcycle bays for many months and all I hear about the pay by phone is negative comments. It certainly is popular, but this is because there is now no other choice and if you want to park in Westminster you have to pay by phone or go to another borough, which is what I do.
France will not be such an easy target I promise you !!

NicAugust 12th, 2009 at 11:09 pm

Robin, you read the comments above. Regarding PTW (and, lets be honest, most of cagers as well) the most convenient way to pay is axtually by text. It seems to work reasonably well,specially compared to phone !

BUT : your system is NOT PCI COMPLIANT !!!!! Texts are stored, and contain the security code. PCI Standards are very clear about this, you are not allowed to store the security code after authorisation whatever the security you put behind.

Julian BondAugust 13th, 2009 at 6:48 am

There’s an awful lot of issues with the system. Here’s another one. The system is tied to the registration number and not the person or phone. Which means if you are on a borrowed, dealer or rented PTW, you have to jump through all sorts of hoops to temporarily register the vehicle you are on today. This doesn’t seem to be in the script at the call centre (assuming you can get through) so you can spend ages explaining that no you don’t want to pay for an existing vehicle, you want to add another one. Now if you already have 2 or more PTWs registered, you have to put the reg number in the end of the TXT to pay by SMS. So why can’t you put another reg number in there?

PaulAugust 13th, 2009 at 11:35 am

I personally hate the Verrus pay by phone system. Yes it sounds convenient because it’s cashless and you can pay from the comfort of your vehicle (if you have a car), but it is a real pain the arse because often we can’t get through, the transaction is rejected and it’s not user friendly.
I think Westminster made a big mistake to make use of the Verrus pay by phone system, it’s just awful.

LegolasAugust 13th, 2009 at 11:57 pm

Robin,
When you attended meetings at Westminster to agree your PbP deal, did you have to duck out of the meeting every half hour to try and pay for a charge that was incidental to your working day?
Do you think it would have looked good to have to do that in front of your potential new clients?
Or do you take the view that parking your vehicle wasn’t actually the most important, significant and complicated part of your working day on that occasion?
I suspect I know your answers, even if you won’t admit them.
So why try to justify imposing that amount of hassle on ordinary people who are just trying to earn a living, despite the state’s best efforts to prevent them from doing so?
You are trying to justify the unjustifiable.
Pay by Phone, in whatever guise, stinks as a sole means of payment. An option – yes – but not the only way.
And no back up against particular technical failures is UNFORGIVABLE !!!!!!

PeterAugust 14th, 2009 at 10:44 am

Well Robin, it seems that Verrus is not only rubbish at running a pay by phone system but also rubbish at conducting research to find out what the public really think of your system. I can tell you, from my own research of actually talking to people who are using the Verus system on the street, that the overwhelming majority of users hate your system – that is a fact! But you say “the overwhelming majority of our customers hugely appreciate the service that we provide” so I assume when you are referring to your “customers” you actually mean councils and not end users, in which case yes I agree, I’m sure they love your useless system as they can now issue loads more parking tickets so thank you very much!

JohnAugust 14th, 2009 at 3:58 pm

Robin,

I agree that your system is terrible and will avoid Westminster in future.
I’m sorry but I feel I have to.

John

[...] City Councils Verrus run pay by phone system was unavailable, and we made a post titled ‘Chalkley’s crap Verrus Pay By Phone system goes tits up!‘. We described how frustrated Londoners were when told to phone up Westminster’s [...]

PiroAugust 18th, 2009 at 9:01 am

I agree with all has been said, on saturday I tried to pay by phone at a parking bay in bond street, although it was 6:30pm (with only 30mn chargeable) I wanted to be a good samaritan and play by the rules, I called the call center to register and pay, I took me 10-15mn to go through 5-7 mn to register and pay that’s 20mn to sort out the parking, I asked to speak to the manager of the call center since I was really not happy, she told me most bikers were very happy about the service whihc I didn’t believe, I don’t necessarily mind paying for my bike parking space as long as it helps finance more bays in the city but I think it is outrageous to let the bikers pick up the tab for the full amount

[...] Chalkley’s crap Verrus Pay By Phone system goes tits up! [...]

[...] CEO of Verrus UK, Robin Bevan took issue with our post calling Verrus crap saying ” I’m concerned to read your comment about ‘the rubbish Verrus system’”. [...]

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