Parking is expensive at Bonifacio Global City (BGC). The current rate for most of the parking facilities, BGC Stopover included, charges PhP50.00 for the first three hours then PhP50.00 for each succeeding hour or any part thereof. For a regular nine hour work-day, that amounts to a total of PhP350.00! As a way to reduce that cost, I usually move my car out before the first three hours is up – usually 5-10 minutes. Then go back in for a fresh three hours. I do this, together with other patrons, as many times as needed until I get to some parking facility that has a lower rate.
In the case of BGC Stopover, they are very strict at implementing the “any part thereof” that even if you exceed by just one minute, you pay PhP100.00 (50.00 for the first three hours + 50.00 for the excess one minute). To give the proper context, the payment counter for the parking is located at basement 1 of BGC Stopover. Once you step up to the counter, the cashier gets the RFID card and scans it to know the timestamp when you entered and compute for the number of hours/minutes you’ve parked. Once you pay, you get a ten minute grace period to get your car out of the parking facility before it charges you an additional hour.
As a law-abiding “BGCtizen”, one does not argue whether the policy is too strict or whether the rate is too high. They’ve set the rules and we follow it no matter how absurd the rates are. The system is stable such that it records the time of entry and computes for the minutes and you pay based on the agreed-upon rates. We, the patrons, act accordingly. Until the system destabilizes.
Beginnings of a Scam
This week, the RFID system is down. The payment counter at basement 1 is no longer manned. They placed someone at the entrance to record the plate number and time of entry on a piece of paper. They also placed someone at the exit ramp to get that piece of paper, computes for the number of minutes and asks for payment.
Today was supposed to be just like any normal day. I follow the law, abide by the agreed-upon contract of using the parking facility for my car and pay the corresponding amount. On my first three hours, I was lucky enough to get out without any issues and with just a short queue of cars. I paid PhP50.00. I overheard the guard on duty that the cashier is really slow and that she must be new.
Then after almost three hours, I, the law-abiding “BGCtizen” went to move my car before my second three hours was up. I headed to my car, started the engine and drove to the exit. And in good faith, respecting the agreed-upon contract, I had around 10 minutes left. When I reached the first turn, lo and behold, there was a line of cars. I waited and waited, moving inch by inch as the cars in front of me slowly progressed towards the exit. I should be out by 4:25PM and at this point, I knew I wouldn’t make it. I was inconvenienced and somebody isn’t holding up their end of the agreement. But I
have had faith in the system. And when it was finally my turn, I was being asked to pay for PhP100.00. The cashier said that I was over 4 minutes.
I insisted that I was in line and was just waiting for my turn. I even have proof. She said I should have adjusted so that I can get out before my time was up.
And that’s when I, the law-abiding “BGCtizen” lost it.
I tried to rationalize her statement. I wanted the system to be stable. In my head I was asking myself, how can I adjust? How will I know how slow she would be? Do I compute the rate of cars going out factoring in the cars that were merging from the other direction and the cars that are moving around to get to the basement 2? How do I compensate for the cascading delay of motion of each driver coming from a full stop?
What’s to stop her from deliberately slowing down so that everyone ponies up the extra PhP50.00? How many minutes should I adjust back? Do I go there 20 minutes earlier? 30 minutes? The agreed-upon contract was PhP50.00 for the first three hours then PhP50.00 for each succeeding hour or any part thereof. Not two and a half hours!!! Nowhere in the agreement was a clause that says I am still responsible for the excess minutes even if the cause of delay was the system. Did I acted in bad faith? Did I try to game the system by four minutes? What happened to the ten minute grace period?
The location where the cashier is currently at also blocks those who are moving around the ramp to get into basement 2. This does not make sense and is either not well-thought of or a deliberate way to congest and delay cars from moving around.
When I exceed by even one minute, I, the law-abiding “BGCtizen” pay up. But when they are at fault, they still have the audacity to be strict and not even stop and think for a bit that they were the ones causing the bottleneck. They were the ones delaying everybody to their advantage. They were the ones scamming everyone.
Simplest Solution Makes the Most Sense
Bring back the old system of paying first before getting into the cars. Even if this is done manually, it will still be more efficient than the current one. No arbitrary adjustments required. Have someone posted by the exit just to check if the time-out is within the ten minute grace period.