What Parking Wars Teaches us About Customer Service Situations

by Matt B

MeterI am completely awestruck by Parking Wars on A&E.  If you have never seen the show, it follows employees of the Philadelphia parking authority.  You get to see the everyday lives of meter maids, the inner-workings of the PPA impound lot, and (my personal favorite) the booters.  Yeah, those guys who drive around the city all day and night looking for “heavy hitters”.  The people with so many tickets that it warrants a boot placed on the vehicle, right on the street.

We deal with people like the ones in this show everyday.  Surprisingly, all of the people on Parking Wars have an infinite amount of patience.  You will not find this level of tolerance in most customer service situations.  Your money is a sensitive subject, and should be dealt with carefully.

There is a lot to be learned from Parking Wars when it comes to customer service.  When involved in a dispute or disagreement that could cost you, follow these rules:

  • Arguing Gets You Nowhere.
  • You can scream and yell until you are blue in the face, but it will get you nowhere.  I see situations like this all the time at the bank.  People get angry, get loud, and get nothing.  Although I do not see much of it on Parking Wars, agitating the people who are serving you is not a bright idea.  Some people will get spiteful and are not willing to help at all.  Keeping a cool head makes everything move quickly and smoothly.  Do not confuse anger with steadfastness.  Being firm is important, but being obnoxious is just ridiculous.

  • Take Responsibility For Your Actions.
  • If you are at the Philadelphia Parking Authority, or nearly any City, State or local office, own up to what you have done, and get out.  Wasting time (yours or theirs) is costing you money twice.  You pay their salaries through taxes, so not only are you losing money by wasting your own time, but you are paying to have them “help” you as well.  If you are for some reason in a courtroom environment, if you are guilty, admit it.  If you are not, stick to your guns and fight.

  • Don’t Be an Idiot.
  • Stupid really is as stupid does.  If you want to go head to head with the PPA, know your law.  They are playing with a very large group of laws and regulations, an if you do not know the ins and outs of these laws, if you get unruly, you are just making yourself look like a moron.  Even if you know you are right, you will need competent help to get your point across.

  • Pick Your Battles.
  • Decide whether it is even worth it to start the battle of wits.  You may be angry, frustrated or confused.  Maybe you should be.  Just know what you are up against before deciding to fly off the handle.  It took more than one person to get the Berlin wall down, maybe your cause needs a few more minds involved.

  • The Authorities WILL Get Paid.
  • Whether it is the parking authority, the police department, or your creditors, rest assured that they will get what is owed to them.  If for some reason they don’t, you are probably going to prison. It may be under unfortunate circumstances, but you are going to have to bite the bullet and pay.  The sooner it is done, the quicker you can get on to bigger and better issues.  Chances are, if you do not get it done early, it will cost you far more in the long run.

    Photo Credit: Robyn Gallagher through Flickr

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