The Portland Oregonian is covering the Cale story with four reporters, and 10 stories in the last two days. This is big news in the City of Roses. This article is typical, and I think incredibly fair considering the penchant for newspapers to go negative. If you wish to read all the Oregonian’s articles about this story, go here.
My reading shows an aggressive company that felt it had to prove itself by providing equipment initially at a very aggressive price. Once it was successful in proving its worth, contracts increased to cover new installations in the city. This approach worked in a number of major cities, including Portland. In some it did not. Its not uncommon for a new company with a new technology to “give” equipment to customers for a test, often with the understand that future orders would be forthcoming if the test was successful. Sometimes, that understand wasn’t there and the “test” was simply to get the proverbial foot in the door.
If I were the parking manager in a city and was looking to move to a completely new technology (Pay and display/multispace meters) running tests like was done in Portland and many other cities would seem to be required. Not only would I get a ‘feel’ for the technology, but also the residents of the city would be able to try it out and I would get input from them as to acceptance of the technology, as well as the product.
Manufacturers have differing business models. Technology moves quickly. A good decision to buy brand “A” one year might be trumped by brand “B” the next. It happens. A city buys brand “A” and then a couple of years later tests brand “B”. It finds that it likes “B” but has a ton of “A” equipment. So it slowly, over a period of years, edges toward “B”. Finally, after a decade, “A” is in need of replacement and a large contract is offered “B” for that replacement.
Unless I am mistaken, that is the story told in the article I noted above. It happens all the time, the names change, the companies change, the people change, but the story is the same. Suspicious? No. Just good, solid, aggressive marketing over a decade.
The sad part is that once the words “Federal,” “IRS,” and “FBI” taint the story, it is so difficult to unwind. Reputations are ruined, families destroyed, and rumors abound. And this is just day three.