The other night, I got taken out to dinner. You’d think I’d be happy about having a meal bought for me, it would have to save me money, right? Well, no actually, in fact it cost me $30… on parking. If you live in or frequent a capital city, you too will know the pain that is parking. For a long time, I had my “favourite” carpark facility, and would park there habitually. Until, that is, unbeknownst to me, they changed the rates and I got stung.
Which brings me to my first point.
Read the Fees!
It really pays to read those signs before you park, even if you go there all the time (as my experience taught me) it is wise to cast an eye over the agreement before you stop the engine. Even if you’ve already collected your ticket and gone past the boom gate, it’s not too late! If you read the sign and realise it’s a total rip-off, just turn around and drive right out. Most car-parks won’t charge you if you’ve been inside less than 5 minutes.
Take a Cruise
This is best done with an assistant. Cruise around and look for a cheap or free on-street park. Whilst doing so, take note of any tricky spots you wish you’d thought of first. Like the spots that are loading zones during certain hours but all-day parks on weekends. Next time, go straight there!
A mathematic study showed that you are more likely to find a park if you remain stationary than if you are mobile . As such, it pays to linger in the spot you want as long as you can rather than going around and around. Try and hover and drive slowly; eventually, someone will come back to their car and you’ll be ready to pounce.
Memberships & Bookings
If you haven’t already been to the websites of the big carparks in your city, shame on you! You call yourself a saver? Get on there! Many carparks offer significant savings to members and have special offers at particular times.
Of note is Wilson Parking who now offer an online booking system with substantial rewards for forethought. By simply booking a carpark for this weekend I pay the $5 rate, whereas if I just rocked up, I’d have paid $28! That’s a $23 difference just for clicking a mouse and I earn Myer One loyalty points at the same time. Bargain!
Many shops will strike deals with car-parks giving you free parking if you come to their store. The Broadway Shopping Centre in Sydney, for example, offers the first 4 hours of parking free to customers who have a ticket to the cinema with their complex and Target in Adelaide will give you 1 hour free parking if you spend $5.50 in store. Planning on a shopping trip? Do a little research of the shops you plant to visit, they may just have a loyalty plan.
When all else fails, stay at home. Sometimes the postage costs are actually cheaper to have an item sent to you than the cost of the parking to go and buy it. If this is the case, stay in your PJs, make a cuppa and forget everything you’ve just read!