Do You Get Sold More Than You Need

I was visiting a parking operation here in LA this morning and was standing with the facility manager when two senior staff from a parking equipment dealer/installer walked up. We started talking about the new equipment they were in the finishing throes of bringing on line in the garage.

We talked about how they had to completely demo the parking islands and repour to meet the requirements of the manager to increase the turning radiuses and the like. This is the stuff of great interest to true parking groupies like moi.

The Salesperson for the installer then went into a long list of software features that had been included in the system. He was so proud of the capabilities of the software including prepayment of daily parking, future payment for parking (like for a theater), and other such wonders.

When they left I asked the manager if he would use even a portion of the software included. He smiled and said that there were contracts with bondholders that prevented the use of many of the features and most likely they will never be used.

I am the last person to ask about computer wizardry. However I am relatively sure that the more complex the software, the more chance of problems. Price aside, why would one want to purchase extremely complicated systems if you knew you would never use them. This goes to the theory that many software features in the system we own (windows and word included) have many features that are seldom if ever used, but that can wreak havoc if someone hits the wrong key.

It reminds me of the company that told its customers that if it wanted to make a rate change in its system, the factory had to do it. The reason was that rates are extremely complicated and a slight error could make a critical difference in income. Of course, the customer is always right, and the supplier folded and set up the system so that they could change the rates.

When there was a change, the manager went in and did what he was supposed to do, with one exception. He didn’t know the difference between “turn around” and “continuous” grace periods. (Turn around grace comes off the front end of the rate, giving a driver time to turn around. After that there is no grace. “Continuous” grace is always in effect and removes the time from the “end” of the time. It basically lowers all tickets except fully daily rate tickets by one increment.)

Our hero didn’t know the difference and guessed. When the error was caught two months later the owners had lost over $40,000 in revenue.

That ability to change rates was unnecessary, but the other guys did it so this supplier was required to do it too. A costly bit of software that was included at no charge.

If you don’t need it, aren’t going to use it, why buy it? The answer usually is that you may need it in the future. Then fine, get an upgrade then. You probably will get a lot of bugs fixed you didn’t even know about when they do the upgrade. In the meantime, your system will run more solid, and be more simple to use. Just sayin…

JVH

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