Today was my first time using one of Ann Arbor’s new digital parking meters, and the system totally failed me. I literally spend 10 minutes wrangling with the thing, attempting to pay for my spot, in what should be a simple transaction. I think what happened was I selected the wrong option the first time (I tried to “Purchase Time” and it charged me for a $0 transaction), and then after that it wouldn’t let me add time, instead giving me the following lovely message. I end up giving up and using their pay-by-phone option instead.
I can see the benefits of digital parking meters: for drivers: no need to carry a pocketful of quarters; for the city, an easier way to catch expired meters and issue tickets. But if the digital system to replace the analog is implemented this badly, then it’s helpful for no one.
A humbling experience, to be so foiled by a piece of technology. I’m so used to being able to figure anything out that it’s rare that I consider myself to have “failed” at something. Even though I remind myself that it’s the system that failed me.