Let me start off by saying that I’m a big fan of car hire in general – it’s much more cost effective than buying a car that ends up sitting in a driveway for days on end because you commute to work. And sharing cars is much more eco-friendly too.
However, there’s one element of car hire that is starting to drive me around the bend – the sheer frustration of cars getting left outside my house for weeks on end.
I’m lucky enough to live on a street that has no parking restrictions – mind you, I live in the borough of Kingston and council tax is through the roof so not having to fork out for a residents’ permit isn’t saving me much.
The thing is, when you don’t have parking restrictions, people are more inclined to buy a second car. Combine this with the fact my street is pretty busy as it’s got a handy corner shop, is close to several primary schools and gas works are always tearing up the surrounding roads and it all adds up to one thing: parking is a nightmare.
I regularly have to park halfway down our long road – and it’s usually when I’ve got a boot full of heavy groceries. My neighbours who have small children are in the same boat, always traipsing back and forth with wriggling children in one arm, and their buggies and horde of kiddy paraphernalia under the other.
So imagine my annoyance to discover car2go hire vehicles being plonked outside my house for weeks on end. There are no designated car club spaces on my road, meaning car2go’s vehicles can park anywhere – and if no-one wants to hire the car it can sit in the same spot, seemingly indefinitely.
The first time it happened, the tiny smart car remained where it was for one week. I emailed the company to ask for it to be moved, and the next day it had gone. I was pretty impressed.
But then the next day, another one of its cars appeared on the opposite side of the road. This time the car was taking up two parking spaces, stopping anyone parking alongside. That car’s now been there for almost three weeks and the parking version of musical chairs is getting more intense.
This time, several emails to customer services have gone unanswered for nearly a fortnight. The council can’t do anything without a petition from at least 20 residents as the company isn’t doing anything illegal (though this might not be the case if it was selling cars from the road, or repairing them).
As things stand, there’s not much that can be done. Even if it could be, my neighbours might be looking at resident permits, which would come with a cost. I don’t want to see that. I just want to see an end to a commercial entity swallowing up parking spaces highly coveted by – and designed for – local residents.
So right now, I’m at the mercy of car2go. I’ve been told by its marketing manager that normally a telematics box fitted inside the car automatically informs the control centre when the car hasn’t moved for three days, at which point triggering its redistribution. And so in my case, something must have gone wrong with the vehicle in question. He reassured me that the car will soon be moved. After all, he pointed out, carhire companies make money by people hiring their cars – not by hogging precious parking spaces.
So fingers crossed!