First Great Western scraps phone parking charge

Train operator First Great Western has scrapped the 'convenience charge' to use the RingGo cashless parking system for parking at stations.
Introduced last year, the RingGo cashless parking system has resulted in more than 30% of rail customers using their phones to pay for parking at the most popular stations. In total, more than 100,000 customers have chosen to use the service.

In order to contribute to the costs of the new technology, users of the RingGo system have until now been charged an additional 20p per call. But from 1 May, First Great Western in conjunction with APCOA, the company which runs FGW's car parks, has chosen to offer the same tariff to both cash and phone customers.

Robert Jackson, First Great Western's station access manager, said: "We are offering our customers an even greater incentive to enjoy the convenience of parking by phone as they forego fumbling for coins and simply head for the platform and on to their trains."

Users of the service will still have to pay for the phone call, but because RingGo is accessed by a local landline number, the call cost is normally included within the callers free network minutes. "Our customer research convinces us that removal of the 20p convenience charge will sway some drivers who have yet to try RingGo," said Harry Clarke, commercial director of Cobalt Telephone Technologies, which operates RingGo. "When you introduce a new service, there are always the early adopters who have a go. We are now reaching out into the main body of users and we do know that some people are put off by an additional fee, how ever small. Nationally, RingGo is now attracting 700 new users each week, but by offering the same tariff for coins and cards, we're hoping that this rate of increase will ramp up sharply."
ringgo logo.jpgTo use RingGo, after parking at the station as normal motorists must call a phone number, giving the four digit car park location number, their vehicle make, colour and registration number, and their payment details. When they next use the service, they will be fast-tracked as all this data is already stored. Speech recognition software, with call centre back up, is used to collect the vehicle details while keypad input provides a more secure method of sending payment card numbers.

The RingGo system charges the parking session to the caller's credit or debit card. Text messages can optionally be requested as a reminder that the session is coming to an end. The customer then has the option of extending their parking with a further phone call from wherever they are.
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