Down with change - how I learned to stop worrying and park by phone
Aideen Sheehan road-tests the Parking Tag system to eradicate fumbling around for loose coins from her life
Do you often end up fumbling for change or having to buy an unnecessary item in a shop just to get the right coins for feeding the parking meter.
Or find yourself delayed and unable to get back to your car before your parking disc expires?
Pay-by-phone parking systems are now operating in most Irish cities offering drivers the chance to avoid all the hassles associated with feeding parking meters.
Most importantly, they can minimise the risks of getting fined or clamped because if you get delayed or run into a friend in town, the pay-by-phone option will let you extend your time without having to trek back to your car to feed the meter.
Smart Consumer road-tested the Parking Tag system to see how it works in practice.
Parking Tag is the system that operates throughout all Dublin local authority parking zones, as well as in Wicklow and Arklow towns, with over 50,000 drivers now signed up to the service which is operated by Payzone.
You register on the parkingtag.ie website, or on the mobile Parking Tag app or by phone at 0818 300 161 giving your car registration number, mobile- phone number and credit-card or debit card details.
You can start using the system as soon as you've registered as it matches your payment to your your car reg, meaning parking wardens can check electronically if you've paid your parking dues.
You have to prepay to use the system - so you select a top-up amount with a minimum of €10 and every time you go under €10 it will top you up automatically by this amount.
My first use was in Dalkey - where I sent a text message with the number of minutes and parking zone I wanted.
I was unsure at first which parking zone to enter but guessed it was the 'DK' emblazoned on the street parking sign - and the system gives you a text or phone confirmation
Most councils have a two-letter zone code but confusingly Dublin City Council has a colour-coded system you need to check on their signs.
The system allows you to select exactly how many minutes you want to park, subject to a minimum of 10.
This means you never have to resentfully overpay and you can extend your time later rather than risk getting clamped.
Parking beside a train station before heading into work one day, I did wonder if there'd be a problem extending beyond the three-hour parking limit. So I looked around for another council carpark next door with an all-day parking option, which saved me money and peace of mind.
In reality, however, while councils are entitled to enforce the three-hour maximum stay at most parking spots, in practice it's uncommon if you're fully paid up, as many motorists paying with coins refill the meter anyway.
Another day when racing for a Dart, I realised I could hop on the train before I paid for my parking - but would definitely have missed it if I'd had to fill the meter.
You pay an extra 20 cent each time you park if you have selected the automatic text reminder option and there's a 50c a month service charge.