I went to the Amstelveen shopping mall recently for an appointment. I parked in Q-Park. It didn’t take long so I wandered around the mall a bit afterward.  When I went to pay for my parking I owed 1 Euro.  I couldn’t pay using my bank card.  I pushed the button to speak to someone and before I could finish asking my question, the voice said, ‘look below you…it’s out of order.’ I looked down and he was absolutely right.  If I was 3 feet tall I would have noticed the sign instantly. Instead I get to be annoyed by someone who doesn’t even let me finish my sentence. I asked where I could pay and was told I needed to drive to the exit and park and use one of the machines next to the exit of the garage.

I did this.  It was a traffic jam inside of a garage.  Unbelievable.  I put my card in to pay and….it had cost me an extra Euro to drive to the exit and wait in line to pay.  This wasn’t fair so I went to the Q-Park window where I heard the following:

  • People being told to go to the Albert Heijn if they needed to exchange money
  • People being sent back outside to the ATM’s because they couldn’t use their debit cards
  • And myself being told that, yes, it was possible that I now had to pay another Euro for parking.

I asked him if he thought this was fair.  He shrugged.  There was nothing he could do, could he give me a complaint form?  Ha!  He was proactively offering me the opportunity to complain!  I love this part.  What he should have been doing was offering me a Q-Park solution for self-service where I could enter and exit and receive all of my parking costs on a monthly bill without having to use the kiosk.

I left angry, secretly wanting revenge for my seriously bad experience at Q-Park.  I got home and found that my husband was gone. I wanted him to share my pain but he was at the Amstelveen mall.  He returned 15 minutes later and started with his story about Q-Park!  He had paid an extra Euro for parking because he also could not pay on the spot and had to do all sorts of things in order to be able to have the small change he needed to pay for his parking.  He tells me this story and I can’t believe my ears. He then says some nasty things about Q-Park (I’m nodding my agreement) and tells me that this regularly happens to him when he goes there.

What a crappy way to treat your customers!  Worst case this is some sort of con game. Best case it is a really stupid way to run a business. Parking is by nature not an emotional moment of truth but it was a bad enough experience for me to decide to take Q-Park up on their offer to complain. No thank you; I don’t need a complaint form, I have a blog.

My questions:

  • Why is Q-Park so badly organized with payment methods, this must be the absolute basis of how they run their business efficiently.
  • Why are the Q-Park people so bad at communicating with customers that they can’t even respond to a simple question in an effective way.  I had the feeling that they lived underground with limited contact with the outside world.  Oh wait a minute, they do.  Nevermind.  Still a decent recruitment and training program will do wonders for even the most unskilled employees in an organization.
  • Why is Q-Park not able to offer better solutions than a complaint form.  This is killing for a business when your workforce is proactive in stimulating customers to complain but not in helping them to solve their problems.

Before I started to write this blog, I sent a mail via the Q-Park website asking to speak to Theo Thuis, the COO.  I don’t mess around anymore with complaint processes as I’ve learned that this is just a cunning way to wear me down to the point that I don’t have the energy to pursue my complaint anymore.

I actually got a call from Q-Park.  They actually arranged that I got my 2 Euro’s back!  This was absolutely great.  But guess what…the next time my husband was in Amstelveen at the mall the EXACT SAME THING HAPPENED.  My complaint was ‘resolved’ but the problem was not.

Mr. Thuis, if you’re out there, call me directly.  I’ll give you a great deal on consulting and training that will improve your customer satisfaction tremendously.

Holding my breath starting….now.

UPDATE: my husband actually visited the same Q-Park last week and the payment problem has been resolved!  Great news for all customers who couldn’t pay easily and had to deal with a difficult process.  Thanks Q-Park.

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