DO you feel you’re being short-changed in life? This week 10-year-old Colby Regis did when he was just 1p short for his bus fare home and the bus driver wouldn’t let him on.
His employers, First, insist it’s their policy not to turn a child away in such circumstances so it seems something has gone wrong with their system somewhere along the line.
The annoying thing for Colby and his family is that days earlier he only had a £1 coin and the fare was 95p, but that driver didn’t have any change so he paid 5p extra!
A few years ago I was on a bus and the same thing happened so I asked the driver what the procedure was to get the cash back – matter of principle and all that.
He wrote me a note and told me I’d have to go to the bus station to reimburse it. All for the sake of 10p or so. It was hardly worth the hassle so I didn’t bother.
Perhaps now’s the time to look at a card system like they have in London. There you buy what’s called an Oyster card, top it up at newsagents and then pop it against a machine which knocks off the fare when you get on public transport. It speeds things up and you’ve always got your bus fare in your pocket.
As it is, small change and the lack of it haunts our daily lives.
And is that a reason why people don’t bother shopping in Huddersfield town centre as it’s such a hassle to have the right change for the pay and display machines?
It’s amazing how many machines nationwide are all-too-eager to allow you to pay more than the charge and how few actually give change. They must make a fortune on over payments every year.
We had that problem at the weekend when we went to St Anne’s. Saturday was a bright, sunny day and it’s such a rare phenomenon that we felt somehow obliged to make the most of it.
And so off we went – an easy journey on the M62, M61 and M55 and you’re there in just over an hour.
At St Anne’s there’s a car park next to the pier right on the front. Unbelievably, spaces were available and we got one right next to the beach. Any closer and we’d have been on the sand.
One drawback – it’d cost £5.50 for the day and the only way to pay was at a pay and display machine. I emptied my wallet, my wife, Ruth, turned out her purse and between us we mustered £5.40. Annoying.
But then we discovered £1 coin in the car’s door pocket. A Eureka moment but then discovered the machine gave no change. Rather than over pay we asked a couple walking past with two young children if they had change for £1. They didn’t, but quite happily gave us the 10p. Brilliant. We’d have done exactly the same. Even better, the machine didn’t reject any of the coins.
Nowadays you see more and more people in car parks handing tickets over to those just arriving if there’s time still left on it.
It means pay and display have become a universal irritation and this is at least one small way to fight the system.
And rightly so.