Tag:

retail

Shopping in cities – it’s the parking, stupid!

Sometimes it takes an expert to state the obvious to get those in power to take notice.

This morning retail guru Mary Portas did just that by mentioning parking charges as one of the main reasons why many of us no longer use the high street. It’s something that most of us already know and could certainly have told the government without the need for a costly review. But, of course, had it come from the general public, the idea would have been dismissed without consideration.

Take Bristol’s much revamped city centre with its Cabot Circus development. The range of shops on offer is now exponentially better than it was in the previous decade. Then, the delights of Bath, Cheltenham, Swindon and London were infinitely preferable to the paltry range of shops on offer in Bristol. The development of the out of town retail centre at Cribbs Causeway brought positive changes and then came the city centre redevelopment. Finally, Bristol has a high street worthy of its status as the largest city in the South West.

However, something unexpected has happened. Instead of making me change my shopping pattern and use these lovely new facilities in the city centre, I went twice and then went back to shopping at the out of town retail centre.

This decision wasn’t based on the shops. It was due to the parking charges. And no other reason than that.

My eldest daughter came home from school a couple of months ago asking why she was the only person in her class who had never been to Cabot Circus. It made me reflect – surely I had taken my children shopping in the city centre at some time? Obviously not! So, vowing to put this right, we set out for a girls shopping trip last weekend.

The first battle was finding a parking space. In the few cheaper car parks all the parking spaces had gone and only the expensive car parks were left. I entered one to find that the charges were £6.00 for two hours and if you went one minute over the two hours, £12.00.

That is a serious amount of money to pay before you even begin shopping. It’s like an extra tax for the privilege of using the shops.

Instead of a leisurely time surveying the vast range of retail opportunities on offer, interspersed with a cafe stop, my girls speed-shopped and instant decisions were forced. There was certainly no opportunity for indecisiveness on this trip. I would have liked to sit in a cafe with them (spending more money on the high street) but with the prospect of paying an extra £6.00 parking if I delayed, we didn’t. Instead my pre-teens were route-marched, super quick, back to the car park. The whole trip took one hour and 56 minutes.

There is something self-defeating about this. I feel I’ve done my bit and shown them what the town centre has to offer, but next time we go to Cribbs Causeway, where there are no time restrictions or parking charges.

Maybe now that there’s official recognition that parking charges are a deterrent, councils and car park owners will get together and find a reasonable solution.

Who has the most expensive charges for parking in their city centre? Can you beat Bristol’s charges? We’d like to know.

Motorhome dilemma – what would you do? pr opportunity?

MOTORHOME DILEMMA – WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

THE FOLLOWING STORY IS TRUE…

line of caravans parked up

Dilemma - motorhome or no motorhome? (thanks for pic humblebee)

You are a journalist working on a national television show which often deals with consumer issues.

You speak to a police officer who’s having problems with a company which supplies motorhomes. He’s paid out more than £40,000 on a wonderful vehicle but it turns out to be a complete lemon. The money took his life savings – a silver wedding anniversary present for him and his wife. It was a dream purchase.
It leaks, it’s mouldy, it’s not fit for purpose and he doesn’t want it in this state. But the company refuses to resolve the issue, insisting that repeated repairs are the answer.
He’s at the end of his tether, it’s causing arguments with his wife and he just wants his money back or a brand new vehicle. The company won’t budge – court action looms.

 

As a last resort, he contacts you – a journalist.


You listen, ask him to send in copies of paperwork and photographs to verify his story. It all checks out.

 

But you know from experience that chasing this could take weeks of writing, fending off lawyers, talking to lawyers, and that’s before you’ve filmed a shot. All of that takes money and time.

 

So you want a firm commitment that if you take up this case – he’ll agree to be interviewed and filmed.

He says to you ‘I’m my own man, no one will force me to do anything’.

 

You proceed and take up the case. Letters, e-mails fly around. Many talks take place with the retailer of the motorhome. It tries to fob you off with talk of it being the manufacturer’s problem. But you know that under the Sale of Goods Act, the responsibility lies with the retailer.
Eventually, some weeks later, the company contacts you to say the matter is resolved, they’ve backed down. But you need to contact the police officer, your interviewee. You know that this is a  situation that would not have come about had it not been for your intervention.

 

But you feel that there’s something to this deal that you won’t like – what could it be?

 

The police officer doesn’t contact you. You leave several messages but none are returned. Eventually, you catch him by surprise and he’s forced to talk to you. He confirms what you suspect – he’s been told he’ll get his new motorhome if he calls you off and refuses to cooperate.

So what happens next?

Consider this – what would you do if you were that journalist? what about that police officer? What about that motorhome company? How would you try to deal with this dilemma? Do let me know…..if I get enough comments – I’ll let you know what actually happened next week!

 

Recent Comments