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Paying for parking with Verrus ain’t that easy

In the past I’ve been a big fan of Verrus, the chaps who run the pay-by-text/phone system for most railway stations here in the UK. Is it still them?

However I think the system could (press one) be a lot (for help, press zero) eas-(press one)-ier. Take this example. This chap here in the picture got on the train with me this evening. He’s got an iPhone. The first thing he did was dial Verrus and stick his iPhone on speakerphone so the whole sodding carriage gets to listen to the bollocks system. He didn’t have an account. It took him five minutes of to-and-fro to create an account. Then he managed to pay, exclaiming words to the effect of, ‘Flock me that was hard’. He had to write down the phone number for the system and the four digit location identifier on the back of an envelope. Hardly useful. He eventually paid for parking up until 11pm. Three quid. You should be able to text 7401 (for your location) then your car number plate and be whacked immediately for 3 quid on your phone bill. After 10am, that 3 quid should last you until midnight. Or similar. It’s hugely annoying that this whole system isn’t frictionless. There should be an iPhone application for this. There should be a Blackberry application. And so on. Mobile Operators should have sorted this. Built the functionality straight into your handset. Why are we still arsing about with parking. Parking! Why is it such a total arse? whatever your answers to this – pointing out the various issues – allow me to raise you this point: it sucks. I want to pay for parking – for goodness knows how many sundry items and services – simply. Via my handset and operator account, ideally. Stop trying to make money out of me by charging me nearly 50p a minute to call cross-operator (I’m looking at you, Vodafone) and start taking a decent percentage of my monthly expenditure.

Posted by email from MIR Live (posterous)

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

16 replies on “Paying for parking with Verrus ain’t that easy”

They send you s text explaining the syntax ie: “Send LOCATION DURATION eg 7002 3. Add VRN to change car eg 7002 1 ABC123. To extend send DURATION only. Details at verrus.com”. If you haven't already registered, I think you can do it via text – it certainly lets you change your card if it expires (or they decide to stop taking Amex, like they did earlier in the year).

Possibly some nice inconsistencies over the rail network then; First Capital Connect's parking (“This technology is powered by Verrus”) states “Please note first time users must register by phone before they can use the pay by text service.”

Once signed up, you send <LOCATION> <DURATION> and the 3 digit security number from your credit card to pay. No ability to change car details either.

Also, they charge 30p extra per transaction (despite increasing the parking charges when they originally bought in the service), and charge 10p per text for reminders, confirmation of parking, and receipts.

Hi Ewan,
we built an application to do exactly this straight from most common mobiles.

In trials 95% of users (just like you suggest in your post) preferred the mobile application to IVR systems, as they were able to do the whole sign-up off-line on their phone, checking what they were doing visually, then it did the whole sign-up, pay and park with a single encrypted SMS message (or a tiny bit of mobile data).

Screenshots on masabi.com, but we'd love to show you if you've got time to pop down to see us on the South Bank?

sending your credit card's Security Code (CV2) over SMS – I'm not sure that's such a good idea….

Gartner are on record saying SMS is not appropriate for financial transactions, and a system cannot be PCI DSS compliant (payment card industry data security standard) if the CV2 number is ever stored anywhere, and I'm sure that the SMS can be stored in any number of databases and server logs along the transport path?

Of course, if Verrus / First Capital Connect never store the CV2 (ie they delete the SMS once processed) then they might still be PCI compliant even though the user's details are still at risk by being stored by other parties along the transport path.

Reading back, it would appear the system in Lincoln allows you to change your credit card details by text; the thought of my credit card number being stored in text messages worries me slightly more!

Of course, if Verrus / First Capital Connect never store the CV2 (ie they delete the SMS once processed) then they might still be PCI compliant even though the user's details are still at risk by being stored by other parties along the transport path.

Reading back, it would appear the system in Lincoln allows you to change your credit card details by text; the thought of my credit card number being stored in text messages worries me slightly more!

Of course, if Verrus / First Capital Connect never store the CV2 (ie they delete the SMS once processed) then they might still be PCI compliant even though the user's details are still at risk by being stored by other parties along the transport path.

Reading back, it would appear the system in Lincoln allows you to change your credit card details by text; the thought of my credit card number being stored in text messages worries me slightly more!

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