Retail Parking Management Services
This is a service whereby private policing of who parks and for how long is farmed out by a store or a car park owner; so as, ostensibly, to maximise use of car parking space and so for the store to make more money.
It is a relatively new service come on the scene here in UK in the past ten years. I give you an example. A food supermarket in a retail park engages a company to place photographic machinery which takes shots of every vehicle number plate entering and also exiting the car park of the food supermarket.
There are set up on notices in the car park, holding the conditions to which car parkers are obliged to comply so as for them to use the car park without incurring a penalty. These conditions generally limit the time one might park, with no return within another scope of time. There are many more conditions; but they are founded upon this crucial time constraint for the most part.
The marketing logic is twofold for this service being bought and provided. Firstly, because the supermarket store is near other stores with their own car parks; but its car park is often the most convenient for shoppers to park in at this retail park as a whole; there has been, before the private policing was introduced, a number of vehicles parking in the supermarket store car park whose passengers may not have used the supermarket itself during their visit to the retail park. The private policing was introduced so as to deter such vehicles from parking there; and so to move them on to other car parks in the same retail park.
Secondly, shoppers at the supermarket and whose vehicles are parked in it cars park, might once have been able to take their time and shop as slowly and for as long as they wished; maybe often walking to other retailers in the retail park and leaving their vehicles in the car park of the supermarket. The private policing then encourages such shoppers to keep aware of time and/or to move their vehicles to another car park once they have completed their food shop at the supermarket.
The net effects of such private policing and its encouragements and deterrents is supposed to be that there is now room for a greater turnover of vehicles using the supermarket car park; more room for potential customers who formerly, before the private policing services were engaged, were unable to find a parking space at busy shopping times, and who are now more liable to find room. And this potential for greater turnover is assumed or is meant to translate into bigger turnover and so bigger profits for the supermarket store itself.
Now as these kinds of new service go, I very much suspect that charges are laid at the door of the supermarket store for these services being implemented in the supermarket’s car park by the private policing company; and at the same time the proceeds from any monies made as penalties on car parkers there are in large part kept as remuneration by the private policers. Thus there is likely to be a double-win for the private policers, and at the same time some cost to the supermarket to be made up somehow to the supermarket for its use of the policing services.
(Just as many phoneline providers charge a user for accessing his/her voicemails as well them as charging those callers who have left the same voicemails. This is the way our world wags)
Now let us look at these private policing services for car parks.
Firstly one has to ask oneself – is there a real ‘squatter’-type problem of vehicles overstaying a welcome or else cadging free parking at these store car parks whose stores which engage services of this kind?
Would one think that the stores themselves do the statistics and work out the sums which decide the actual state of play regarding this supposed squatter issue? Is it not more likely that figures and statistics in so far as they are actually researched, are being presented to the stores by the marketing arms of the private policing services themselves? Given this is the case, then should anyone take these stats and figures offer very seriously as science? I leave you to your opinions.
Similarly, once the policing services are engaged and set up, is there any work of worth done as research which calculates particularly for each discrete store and its car park, just exactly how much more sales, turnover, profits, are due to any store having engaged private policing services in their car parks?
Ask yourself – would the policing services themselves (be able to) do it? They would require access to the business figures of the stores whose car parks they police. Answer almost certainly, no, they would not do it, probably could not do it.
Ask yourself, would the stores themselves do the calculation? The stores may see an increase in sales (not necessarily though) but without them receiving vehicle figures for those vehicles which parked in their car parks under a private policing regime, stores could not begin to try to assess how beneficial such services might be to themselves. And at best only a correlation between more vehicles visiting and more sales could be determined anyway. Suppose for instance more cars parked but their shoppers in general stayed less time and also bought considerably less goods that they had formerly? It’s possible. Under certain conditions probable even.
And were there sen in fact an increase in income to the store, how might such an increase be parcelled out – as natural growth, as seasonal, as a blip, as due to the car park?? etc etc. Thus any claims for increased takings for a store made by a private policing provider of this kind in its marketing pitches are quite clearly unable to be clearly substantiated in fact.
Now this policing of the car parks is maintained daily and 24/7 365; even though the store’s most busy times of day are say only at best a fifth or so of this time, say averaging at 5 hours daily most of the year. For the remainder of the time the private policing service is a redundancy in place and still acting and operative.
Every vehicle which enters the car park is snapped by a camera for its registration plate; and the same when it leaves. Penalty notices are sent out to owners of all vehicles who incur them by overstaying or by returning to soon. Thus for the sake of five hours daily of greater access to parking for incoming customers, the store pays for 24/7/365 surveillance of its car park; and the policing services at the same time are reaping all income from transgressor vehicles 24/7/365 also to boot. Thus this is an unnecessary service provision for much more other time than it is a necessary service, if it is one at all.
There is a good measure of uncharitableness in such measures and in the extent of their being engaged and enforced by stores for their car parks. To a person caused to have to pay a large penalty in UK£ because s/he parked at a time when few vehicles were present in a car park, and in doing so broke an imposed and somewhat arbitrary private rule, it might well often look like sour grapes on the part of the store and policing service: as if their message was ‘I don’t want anyone, you included, taking any gratis advantage of my parking space at any time; even though most of the time it’s no skin off my nose for you to enjoy hospitality at my car park”.
In short, these private policing services are for the most part a wheeze, a smartarse snare calculated so as to maximise income for their suppliers (and their engagers?) – a mere income-generating machine at great general disservice to the public.
I have no doubt about the ethics of such services. The facts speak for themselves.
The penalties which they impose are considerable in size, when they are set against the nature and duration of most ‘offences’ under their rubric. And – it is claimed by the providers – much of these disproportionate charges of penalties are necessary to be levied so as for them to be able to offset the high cost of the technical equipment by which their surveillance of car parks is done automatically – for the most part.
So we have a situation in which little human labour is required to maintain surveillance. A piece of IT churns out regularly and at set times as appropriately lists of those vehicles and their registrations which have infringed; and their owners are sent out penalty notices also sent automatically on pro forma letters automatically generated. Once a private policing provider of this kind has an IT setup and is feeding into this setup 24/7/365 data of discrepancies from car parks across the UK; how much understanding does it take to see that this is an abominable imposition made possible by a calculated and unethical abuse of the new technologies?
Their money is tainted money. The public in general is abused.
Not only the income from payments of penalties but also that income from had the hire of their services by retail stores, are suspect in terms of righteousness. Their business-model is obnoxious. The labour of hands which they put in is inequitable to the size of the remunerations they extract for their effrontery. Ordinary people across the nation are being ensnared by their terms and conditions; for offences which have been pulled out of the air, created anew, and with no sanction other than the powers of property law supporting their nefarious schemes, set up by smart dealers who saw a new smart wheeze for making a fast buck without them having statute law levied against them.
There is access for these private policing companies to databases held by UK government on which all licensed registered vehicles details are kept; hence everyone who abides by government rules in these regards is vulnerable to such a (dis)service offered to them. This government data is protected by Data Protection Law but because these private policing services operators are able to claim an unlawful breach of contract has occurred, because a driver has not adhered to terms of these operators for parking, this means these operators are by law allowed access to these data. This access I believe would be without charges to them, since a Statute law has been infringed; thus another string in their bows aimed at low-cost mass imposition of petty private regulations bearing penalties for breach, laid on a general public across the nation.
No doubt in their financial calculations such gratis access to this data is assessed by them as bearing a cost to themselves to administer. This is the way our world wags. Thus for this intrusion into the personal data of those who fall foul of them, they are able to lay charges on these from whom they squeeze penalties.
Legal contracts are made with motorists whenever motorists park in retail store car parks who engage such private car park policing services. Legal contracts are made even though those few signs dotted around car parks of this kind hold, what is for the common person, a considerable amount of small print text in legal jargon. As for who ever reads them when as shoppers they climb out of their vehicle for some groceries – God knows?
Perhaps 90% plus persons are unaware that they are putting theselves under binding contract law simply every time they park in a store car park. But the Great British law recognises it as fact and binding. Nor perhaps do the same percentage realise that their vehicles are being photographed going into and coming out of such a store car park; blissfuly unaware of Big Brother uses of technology on their daily routines – this time so as to churn out huge incomes to scoundrels for a little nefarious effort. Guys and gals at the end of a computer terminal sitting awaiting income coming flooding in.
A vehicle owner is able to phone in so as to pay ad hoc penalties sometimes. S/he may pay using credit/debit card. This too becomes a liability in law to those unaware of this feature of the small print. In law it represents adequate opportunity to rectify an infringement on the spot. Penalty charges rise of course when such rectifications on the spot are not on one’s radar and one misses their opportunity.
Much of this business-model setup has been contested in UK’s highest chambers The House of Lords; which House unaccountably found in favour of these hangers-on.
The business-model represents an opportunist window wherein a scheme on the whole is adding to the general public burden, just as does a new tax devised and implemented by government adds to it, such as the spare bedroom tax and VAT added to items previously exempted. It is a niche industry found out and then exploited massively.
There being no personnel on the ground to speak to or to negotiate with its rigidities in the car parks are wholly inflexible because base don written instructions and not on human relations or conversation. This to is not only a very economical labour saving wheeze then; but it;’s very lack of personnel needed works in its favour in that there is never anyone around to converse with about the details etc.
It is a scheme which is generating income purely out of new impositions having been placed on people who did not have them on them formerly. Its economic benefits to its retailer hirers of the service is at best dubious – no-one is able to do the sums with any certain assurance. It is a new and a privately inspired and managed way of marshalling people in general, pushing them here and there and making cash by doing so. It lives off the backs of ordinary folks, and lives off them pretty nicely thank you. Ordinary folk are pushed about by smart privateers who are doing so for the most part solely to generate large income and for no public nor pretty much for any other private benefit to their hirers. No social benefits; nor any locally to their clients; no palpable discernible benefits. A perfectly lawful dastardly wheeze. Another Great British disservice.
Worst of all concerning this scheme hatched by clever degenerates so as to be a lawful abuse of UK citizens in general, is the social knock-ons. It says to other stores around it: This is my car park – I don’t want your customers using it. And other stores around it are thus slightly loosened from any former genial social cement between themselves and the regulated car park retailer. And one retailer at a retail park does it; and many follow since they do not want to be at a disadvantage of an overflowing car park but few customers. Driver customers themselves become less friendly in attitude to the stores who employ such means. Especially once stung by a few minutes infraction paid for through the nose by them.
The whole thrust of such disservice services is to weaken social congeniality – which itself is a general thrust of most of the disservice services of the bad goods I am writing about in this series.
Such disservices are each all-for-me-and-none-for-you wheezes which tend to depend for their powers to generate income upon weakening the social fabric somewhat; no-one doing a favour to anyone any longer, so to speak. Favours have to be costed.
It is in short petty regulation dreamed up and craftily based of statute law property rights which shield it from illegality; but which do not shield it from public opprobrium and from a gross ethical dubiety. Lawful poncing on statute law.