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Pascale has to drive her husband to the hospital regularly and opts for automatic parking payment: “385.60 euros!”

  • Post category:Economy News
  • Reading time:6 mins read

Suffering from cancer, Pascale’s husband often has to go to the hospital for consultations. To facilitate this more than painful task, it subscribes to the Q-Park license plate recognition system. This technology was supposed to save the couple a lot of time… but a malfunction cost them a lot of money. Tired of the many exchanges with the parking company, she decided to tell us about her experience with the orange Alert us button.

Pascale goes regularly to the Saint-Luc hospital in Brussels with her husband Ricardo, who is suffering from cancer. Visits that are painful enough, without the hassle of hospital parking, operated by Q-Park.

This manager of a Brussels medical center thought she had found a system to counter the problem of broken payment machines: “Eight times out of ten, when you go out, only one machine out of four is functional to pay. I don’t know how many times I had to pay an extra hour because of the queue“, laments Pascale. The couple therefore turned to a system that seemed revolutionary to them. By registering their license plate on the Q-Park site, it is recognized at the barrier and Pascale is charged according to the time passed on the spot, without taking a ticket. “That’s great !“, she rejoiced. What she did not know was that a technical problem would cost her a lot of money.

After a year of chemotherapy, Ricardo’s condition seemed to stabilize. But leukemia has taken over recently: “The doctor called us to tell us that the results are not very good, and that we have to come every month, instead of every quarter.“, she regrets. Leaving the hospital, after one of her monthly visits, mid-May, “the barriers were open, at the two entrances to the car park, because technicians were working on the machines“, explains Pascale.

A month later, new consultation: “When he presented himself in front of the barrier, he had to take a ticket because the plate recognition was not working. He paid 4.80 euros at the machine before leaving and when he arrived at the barrier it opened without him having to put in his ticket.“. At that point, the system scanned Ricardo’s license plate, closing the previous month’s parking lot: “Our bank deducted an amount of 385.60 euros“. A bug, obviously…

It is not the patients who have to pay the consequences of their technical problems

This experience is only the costliest of many others: “Two years ago, when I went to the hospital every day, I already had the same types of mishaps as my husband. I was, supposedly, parked 24 hours or a week“, tells us Pascale.

To recover this sum, she is therefore busy, as always, contacting customer service, but this is not an easy task: “It always takes a while for them to respond, then they asked me for proof that he re-entered in June, as well as proof that it was deducted from our bank account“, she explains. It was thanks to the ticket purchased in June, when the recognition system was not working, that the refund could be made, after numerous exchanges with the company.

Exhausted by these repeated problems and by her husband’s illness, Pascale is indignant: “It is not the sick, or the people who park in the parking lot, who have to pay the consequences of their technical problems“. Although the couple have been reimbursed, Pascale and Ricardo believe that “patients should fight to be cured, not to get their money back, that’s Q-Park who must definitively solve these technical problems“.

Plate recognition in full expansion

This system, which has been available in Belgium for two years, is becoming increasingly popular, according to Philip De Brabanter, the general manager of Q-Park: “A quarter of our customers are already using it. VSa has developed strongly during the Covid period, and now it is increasing every month“, he rejoices.

It hardly happens anymore

The director assures that the system is very effective: “Cameras were 97% recognition two years ago, today they are 99%“. But he admits that some people may have problems: “Sometimes the plate is not read fast enough, and the person presses the button, but that hardly happens anymore“. The problem is usually quickly resolved, because the company “can directly see if there is a double payment“, specifies Philip de Brabanter. To be reimbursed, there is no other way than that of customer service.

In the future, Q-Park hopes to convince many more customers, and “in an ideal world”, to get rid of the ticket machines, but the director agrees that it is not anytime soon. In the meantime, a next development should arrive: customers will be able to use a QR code to re-enter the car park and collect their car, instead of typing a code.

How to get your money back quickly?

To hope to recover your money quickly, following a malfunction of this type, certain techniques exist. According to Test-Achat spokesperson Jean-Philippe Ducart, it is common for this kind of process to take time: “Making people pay is fast, but reimbursing it is sometimes complicated“, he acknowledges.

Adopt a sufficiently threatening tone

The expert advises, as a first step, to look at the general conditions of the company, “to see if there are any ad hoc conditions, if a certain time limit is provided for refunds“. In his exchange with the company, the customer should not hesitate to join the “evidence that he is within his rights, conclusive evidence“. These communications must be made by email or even by registered mail, in writing therefore, so that evidence of the exchanges exists. Jean-Philippe Ducart even advises to adopt “a sufficiently threatening tone” to convince the company to process the file. According to him, the refunds “are not a priority for them and they take their time“, it is therefore a question of not losing your temper and not letting go of the matter, if you are within your rights, because sometimes “everything is done to discourage“.