How shopping centres give a sour taste with lost parking card penalties

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Spotted on the way up to Johannesburg from Harrismith in November 2016

We went to do some Christmas gift shopping at the Rosebank Mall, Johannesburg. I’m always conscious of keeping my parking tickets in my top pocket because I know that these shopping centres smack you with a heavy penalty if you lose your parking ticket. We shopped at several stores and when we headed towards the parking pay stations, I reached into my top pocket and found my parking ticket was no longer there.

I searched all over, in my wallet, in my shopping bags and other pockets. The parking ticket was no way to be found. I realised then that it was last. I went up to a security guard and asked him what could I do. He said I would have to go to the centre management where I would have to fork out R50 to pay for the lost parking ticket. Not wanting to waste any more time at the shopping centre, I went with him and gave the young man behind the cashier’s desk my R50.

Its rich isn’t it for these shopping centres who want you to come spend your money at the stores to slap you with a hefty fine because you have lost your parking ticket. Why have we as consumers allowed this to happen? We don’t question things like this. How come these shopping centres have so much power and can do what they want?

Let’s reverse things around for a moment. The shopping centre wants you to come to their premises to shop. Without your custom they would not be in business. Wouldn’t it be better if the shopping centre at the courtesy (decency) to approach you in a different way. Instead, they could say they are sorry that you have lost your parking ticket, thank you for shopping at the centre and provide you with a courtesy parking ticket.

Now I know there will be some people who would take advantage of this. But surely they could use their discretion and one or two polite questions could quickly determine whether you are genuine or not. They should thank you for patronising their centre and send you away with a courtesy free pass.

That’s why, wherever possible, I avoid centresthat chisel money out of you when you make what is a human mistake. In the rush of shopping it’s easy to lose your parking ticket. Fortunately there are smaller shopping centres such as Blairegowrie Shopping Centre and Victory Park, Johannesburg, who provide excellent outdoor and basement parking at no charge. Of course, they don’t have the range of stores available at some of the larger shopping centres but they tend to welcome customers. The Cresta shopping centre was like this but has recently introduced pay stations. They have ingenuously promoted their pay stations as being part of upgrading these security for customers. Can you believe it?

In your small business do you have any policies or practices that penalise your customers? It may be worthwhile to take a review of how your practices and policies could be harming business and make the necessary changes.

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