Verrus CEO Robin Bevan reluctant to accept invite to defend crap pay by phone system.

Last Tuesday Westminster 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 parking department at least every half hour to check if they had fixed their problem, or otherwise face a parking ticket.

We called the Verrus system crap, because it’s a system designed for car drivers which is being cynically used by Westminster’s Cllr Chalkley to generate extra revenue from PTW’s (Powered Two Wheelers).

Our post prompted the CEO of Verrus UK, Robin Bevan to post his own comment in reply to our post. In his comment he explained that the outage was at a BT exchange, and not really within the control of Verrus.

Robin didn’t you say “The launch of our service in Westminster represents a landmark for Verrus – the first time that any phone parking service has been introduced in the UK as the only form of payment. This has exciting implications for parking in the future.”

Nutsville questions your wisdom of extolling the virtues of any council which is persuaded to use Verrus as the only form of payment for a key service. Things do break down, things will break down, and it’s the public who are stuffed up by your system. As we all saw, Westminster Council are not prepared to show much mercy, why should they, they are only focused on the money and not there to serve the public.

The London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee said on the 12th Feb 2009, “It should be noted that not all motorists have access to either a mobile phone or credit card. As such London Councils recommends that mobile phone payments for parking should be provided as an additional method of payment rather than as a replacement.”

Age Concern Barnet said: “The facility is important and the benefits can be helpful, but a lot of elderly people do not have mobiles to use.”

Derek Lancaster, UK sales director for Parkmobile, which manages the Wandsworth Pay By Phone service, said, “While I’d hesitate to use the term illegal, Westminster’s decision to deprive people of the choice to pay for parking with cash is questionable. It may be only a matter of time before a legal challenge is mounted against this policy.”

How prophetic Mr Lancaster’s words seem now, for if it wasn’t for Councillor Danny Chalkley’s greed and insistence for pushing the Verrus system on to PTW riders there might not be a legal fund and Verrus along with Westminster City Council would never be under the close scrutiny they are now.

In Mr Bevan’s comment to Nutsville he explained how in all Verrus’s research they found that the overwhelming majority of their customers hugely appreciate the service. Well that’s not surprising if who he meant by customers were the few UK councils using the Verrus system. But if he meant the end users (the public), how many of those questioned were PTW users?

Now it’s true that Westminster City Council conducted a survey of 1,125 people, this was before Pay By Phone was announced for PTW’s owners, so we can assume they were all car drivers. The car drivers reasons for using the Verrus system were, not having to carry the correct change, paying from the comfort and security of their cars and extending parking time without having to return to the meter were the top advantages identified by the survey.PTW riders on the other hand must stand out on the street and make sure payment is completed before they can leave their bikes or scooters.

Robin, if you have an end user survey conducted with only PTW owners, please send it to us, we would love to publish it.

Robin ended his comment with an invite for a meeting, great we thought, but why waste time meeting with the authors of Nutsville, so we sent him this:

Hello Robin,

Thank you for your comments made on the Nutsville site earlier
today.

The feedback we receive regarding the Verrus Pay By Phone system
is often far from glowing, so I wonder if you have ever
canvassed only PTW riders? As I’m sure you may know, because Westminster’s
CEO’s do not allow any grace period to make a payment, your
PTW customers are forced to stand on the street in all weathers
holding a mobile phone and credit.

There happens to be another demonstration against Westminster’s
introduction to your Pay By Phone system for PTW’s this Sunday. I
hope you will seize this golden opportunity to canvass the opinion
of some real end users. I have just spoken to the chairman of
the No To Bike Parking Taxes, Warren Djanogly, who said he will
be delighted to meet you outside City Hall Westminster on Sunday
after 1pm. I understand his committee do have questions they
would like to put to you, and this also gives you a great chance
to explain why you think Verrus is such a good choice for PTW
riders in the UK.

These demonstrations have always been good natured and well
policed. I am aware that Cllr Danny Chalkley has tried to smear
the protesters and blacken their name, but if you do turn up I’m
sure you will find the event enjoyable and safe.

Regards
Tim

48 hours later and no reply from Robin, so we registered the domain name wehateverrus.com, as perhaps we need to take the debate about Pay By Phone to the public ourselves.

Verrus was not Cllr Chalkley’s only choice for a Pay By Phone provider, there’s a bigger and better provider in the UK, RingGo, owned by Cobalt Telephone Technologies. RingGo are based in Basingstoke, Hampshire, (Intec 2, Wade Road, RG24 8NE). But Verrus operate from a PO Box, but could it be that Verrus operate from a farm, Peaches Farm, Minchinhampton, Stroud, Gloucestershire GL6 9BB.

Now RingGo responsibly don’t allow their customers to send their credit card information by text. RingGo’s parent company, Cobalt Telephone Technologies, have been accredited by independent assessors on behalf of the payment card industry. This makes RingGo PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry – Data Security Standard) accredited, in fact all aspects of their UK operations have been accredited to PCI-DSS Level 1. This Europe-wide standard is the highest and most rigorous level of accreditation any UK-based card processing organisation can attain. You can download a list of PCI accredited organisations in Europe, from the Visa Europe site and click on the “certified providers” link under the second heading, halfway down the page. We see Cobalt Telephone Technologies listed there but we don’t see Verrus.

Now lets compare the number of operators RingGo have in the UK to the number that Verrus have, to see which is the popular choice:

RingGo

Verrus

APCOA Parking (UK) LtdBournemouth Borough CouncilBristol City CouncilBristol Temple QuaysideBritannia ParkingCherwell District Council

Chiltern Railways

Christchurch Borough Council

Cornwall Council

CP Plus

Dover District Council

First Great Western

Green Parking

Hartlepool Borough Council

Havant Borough Council

LB of Brent

LB of Ealing

LB of Hounslow

LB of Lewisham

LB of Richmond

LB of Southwark

LB of Wandsworth

Middlesbrough Council

Moto Service Stations

Network Rail

North Devon District Council

North Middlesex University Hospital Trust

Northern Rail

Oxford City Council

Poole Borough Council

Portsmouth City Council

Reading Borough Council

Reigate and Banstead Borough Council

RoadChef

Salisbury District Council

Scarborough Borough Council

South West Trains

Southampton City Council

Stockton-On-Tees Borough Council

Suffolk Coastal District Council

Taunton Deane Borough Council

Test Valley Borough Council

Torridge District Council

Town and City

Trafford Council

United Parking Ltd

West Devon Borough Council

Wycombe District Council

City of WestminsterCity of YorkBirmingham CitySalisburyCheltenhamManchester

Harrow

Lincoln

Colchester

Oxford

Darlington BC

NCP car parks

Euro car parks

CP Plus

Apcoa UK

Oh dear, that doesn’t look good for Verrus, in fact Verrus have not announced any new British operators on their website since May 2008.

Never mind Chalkley, it’s not surprising you pick a lemon when your parking department is run by lemons.

Sources:

London Councils Doc

The Times, Pay By Phone in Barnet

No more meters

The unofficial Forum (www.torytax.com), can be found here http://www.torytax.com

No To on Twitter

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15 Comments

2bikersAugust 14th, 2009 at 7:43 pm

2 words : Verrus sucks !

Gerry RAugust 14th, 2009 at 9:25 pm

Is Verrus thick or just misguided?

Their system has shown to be demonstrably rubbish, not to be trusted by anyone with more brains than plastecine.

But – wait a moment.. wasn’t it the choice of Westminster Council?
Nuff said..

A Council with few morals, arguably dishonest Councillors and not much of a track record in actually undertaking their residents wishes.

And, not to forget, a Council that gives their own Councillors free parking permits.

Not for me to make a comment (I’m only a resident – and they don’t take notice of us), just look at the evidence. West End Xtra 14-08-2009

Charge anyone they can, but provide Councillors themselves with a cost free parking permit.

It sucks more than a Dyson.

MarkAugust 14th, 2009 at 10:29 pm

3 words: Verrus, get lost!

Fleur BertagnaAugust 15th, 2009 at 8:06 am

The pay by phone charging is awful in Westminster, you sometimes have to try three times to pay.

I’ve already written off one mobile phone through standing out in the rain trying to make payment. I dare not leave my scooter until I was sure I would not get a ticket.

So I find out through this site it’s a company called Verrus, and it’s not all that secure, why did Westminster pick Verrus, are they getting a backhander or just really stupid? Who at Westminster thought this was a good idea for bike parking?

Nicola MaguireAugust 15th, 2009 at 10:00 am

I nearly have my phone written off by this really crap pay by phone idea. It was pouring with rain and took ages to pay, in the end my phone was so wet it stopped working. When I got into the office I took it apart and let it dry out. It took two days, but the screen is still misted up, oh and I got a ticket that day, thanks Westminster.

So please Mr Verrus don’t try to say how good your Pay By Phone system is, I hate it, and I hope they really do take your company to court.

TrapidoAugust 15th, 2009 at 11:40 am

Verrus cashless parking is shit, does not work for bike parking.

PaulaAugust 15th, 2009 at 2:14 pm

I absolutely hate the Verrus pay by phone system. It’s the most unfriendly system I have ever had to use, and that explains why it is so unpopular in the UK in comparison with its competitor RingGo. Westminster have made a grave mistake by adopting this system, they should realise this soon when the No To Bike Parking Tax campaign takes them to court.

Biker!August 15th, 2009 at 5:21 pm

Robin, why don’t you ask Councillor Chalkley to stop using your Verrus pay by phone system for motorbikes and scooters, because if Chalkley doesn’t stop using it to charge them, it looks like your company Verrus may be the subject of increasing bad publicity, and potentially the subject of a debate in court with the No To Bike Parking Tax campaign.

After all, has the Verrus pay by phone system been designed primarily to charge motorbikes and scooters for parking? Please let us know and if not, then why is it being used in this way?

SteveAugust 15th, 2009 at 10:30 pm

Your info is slightly out of date. Oxford went from a trial on Verrus to a live system on RingGo last year.
That says something when you’d rather install a system you haven’t trialled than stick with the one you have!

Did you see the Top Gear bit the other year? Where Clarkson demoed Westminster’s parking on air and tore into it? It used to be on Youtube but I guess it has been pulled under copyright.

JamieAugust 16th, 2009 at 10:42 am

Good news on Oxford but look at this in Surrey – launching tomorrow
Note the praise of Westminster

http://www.elmbridge.gov.uk/news/news.htm?mode=10&pk=3181

A mate of Chalkley’s helping spread his joy?
http://www.elmbridge.gov.uk/contact.htm?conid=533

new scooteristAugust 18th, 2009 at 10:51 am

I had a meeting just behind Percy Street but couldn’t find a space. I ended up parking about half a mile away up behind the BBC. Already late I tried to phone Westminster and stood in the road over thirty minutes waiting to pay. That was me, an hour late for my meeting, very stressed, customer very pissed off and I didn’t get my SMS text!

The system is useless, if it doesn’t work properly Westminster don’t care because they’ll ticket you anyway.

Verrus and Westminster City Council have engineered this so the council can’t lose and Verrus can’t lose – They have fucked over the public yet again.

MrCAugust 18th, 2009 at 12:05 pm

I have already written to my MP to say that I think the whole Pay by Phone system is intrinsically unsafe as it relies on the roadside signage not being changed which we know from posting’s on this sight happens all the time.

If someone posts a fake number on one the signs how are we to know that Westminster is not trying to fix a problem and so has changed the number?

Now imagine this system is rolled out to other councils and the problem becomes a lot worse as each could have their own number and so the public will be more reliant on the signs at the side of the road.

MrCAugust 18th, 2009 at 12:05 pm

I have already written to my MP to say that I think the whole Pay by Phone system is intrinsically unsafe as it relies on the roadside signage not being changed which we know from posting’s on this sight happens all the time.

If someone posts a fake number on one the signs how are we to know that Westminster is not trying to fix a problem and so has changed the number?

Now imagine this system is rolled out to other councils and the problem becomes a lot worse as each could have their own number and so the public will be more reliant on the signs at the side of the road.

I saw an example of how to con people out of their credit card details on The Real Hustle On Holiday, I won’t repeat it here but it demonstrated how easy it is to get people to give you their details using the Pay by Phone system. It was that that inspired me to write to my PM who passed it to the relevant PM. Then they all went off on Holiday so I have not heard a thing since. I think more people should write to their MP about this then they may listen.

RebbecaAugust 19th, 2009 at 4:17 pm

MrC, I also saw that scam on BBC Three’s Real Hustle and it’s a pretty easy scam for criminals to do. I find it really worrying that Westminster Council and Verrus are putting people in this position. I think I will also have to write to my MP about this.

MrCAugust 20th, 2009 at 1:55 pm

Thank you Rebbeca

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