No change for parking?

While I understand that providing change for parking meters can be somewhat annoying for downtown retailers, it boggles my mind that some flat out refuse to do so, even posting signs in their windows saying so. This is, if you ask me, a high water mark in “don’t-get-it-edness.” These people are your customers. They’re in the neighbourhood to spend money. Why would you shoo them away?

Retailers could argue that people come in looking for change and then go elsewhere to shop, but so what? That guy who just bought a pair of shoes from your store, or that lady who’s thinking about that leather bag might have gotten change from someone down the street. If that other shopkeeper hadn’t coughed up, your store would be empty now.

Retailers should think of themselves as part of a community of storekeepers and customers. When they provide change, customers can park and go shopping and some of that business will come to them.

What’s the alternative? Be an idiot by not providing change and end up sending the customers to the suburban malls where they don’t have to worry about parking meters.

Which makes more sense?

Whenever I see one of those “no change for parking meters” signs it makes me want to print up a bunch of stickers that say “…then no sales for your store.” At the very least, I tend to boycott such stores, and I encourage you to do so as well. But a silent boycott is not very effective, so I might just get those stickers printed up…

24 thoughts on “No change for parking?

  1. Well it because people walk in and ask for change only and keeping change in a cash is hard to do since everyone gets their money from ATMs, meaning in 20s. A cash can only have a certain amount of change in it (so can the store) until someone has to go to the bank and get some more which might mean having to close the store during the day. They do this to manage the cash register pure and simple.

    When you order in (pizza for example) watch what happens when the delivery guy takes his wad out…. a huge pile of 20s and very little change. Just apply that to the cash register of the store. Its no fun for them either. They don’t do it to spite you, they do it for pragmatical reasons

  2. Well, it’s also rather impractical to turn the lights on at night, or to shovel the snow away from the door in winter, or to hire people to run the cash registers, but they still do that.

    I see your point, and I can understand not giving change if you’re running low, but to not even make an effort — and to post a sign SAYING you’re not even going to make an effort — that’s just lame.

  3. You have to understand that if you come in with a 20$ to break (as most will) that’s 1 less 10$, one less 5$ and a chunk of change less in the till times the amount of people that will pass by for change. At the end of the day, the week, it all adds up. If you ran a store you would see yourself forced to do the same in all probability.

  4. They could plan ahead and be sure to have enough change on hand. Shopkeepers are very vocal about having enough street parking. This seems to run against that.

  5. oh and a store is only insured for a certain amount of money in the cash and safe, so they cant keep all the money they would want to.

  6. In my old age I tend to repeat myself. In fact, this isn’t the first time I’ve blogged about this topic — I also did so in 2002. That time it was prompted by a sign in a window that said “Ici, on fai de la monnaie!” (Get some change here!) along with a graphic of a parking meter. I thought that was brilliant, and a nice antidote to the “bugger off” signs like I saw last night.

    Dave, there’s gotta be a middle ground. For one thing, it’s not like everyone on the street’s going to come in looking for change; surely some people bring their own. Also, I think it would be reasonable to refuse changing a $20, but when you put that sign up you’re saying you won’t give any change to anyone under any circumstances.

    How about starting each day with a roll of loonies set aside just for that purpose? When it runs out, you can say sorry try next door. But in the meantime you’re making an attempt and you’re not giving the finger to your potential customers.

  7. I hear ya. But in certain high traffic areas it never ends. People expect a whole lot as common courtesy but the thing is most people don’t return the favour. I love sitting next to drivers and hearing them bitch about how this guy or that guy could have let them pass out of common courtesy but every time its their turn to deliver the same common courtesy, it’s always a no go. I’m not saying you do this, I’m saying the culture as a whole.

    People just shut down after getting shit on after a while. So the store does run out of change (or needs to keep the change in his cash to keep operating) and then he eats shit because the asker doesn’t believe him. So instead of eating shit, he puts up a policy. People are mean bastards when they don’t get what they want.

  8. i dunno… i worked retail and had no problem doing it until we saw we were getting low on change. then we just said, “Sorry we are running low on change.” If dangerously low, then a manager coming in at a different time stopped at a bank and bought change and was reimbursed when they arrived. no biggie. to be frank, people remember stores where things are not strict and regimented and return to shop there. why have a sign saying you won’t do it instead of just doing it until it’s incovenient?? and i am the first person to be cynical for human nature but customers who you are nice to can be pretty decent folk.

  9. Dave’s right. Those are the problems. And there are more. For instance, many shops don’t want clerks opening a register without making a sale. Opening and closing a register, hands in and out if the till without ringing up a sale, is a sure way to wind up with a short register.

    But, are you in business to aggravate your customers or accommodate them?

    Likewise, a man in need of change should intelligently assess the situation. Don’t walk into The Bay to break a buck, head to a newstand or fast food joint; get a cookie or a pack of gum.

  10. What with the parking meters all being electronic now… there’s not much need for change anymore.

    Slide in your card, slide out your card.

    Paranoid? Use your wife’s.

    And considering the state of our over-passes and on-ramps, there’s a good chance now that you’ll never get to where you’re going in Quebec. As if getting in a car wasn’t close enough to Russian roulette already.

  11. Common sense has been a seriously endangered species for a long time in Montreal. Meanwhile, unthinking inflexible “rules” designed and imposed by idiots are on the rise. Blork, you should print those stickers. People with a few good brain cells, such as yourself, all too often think of a great solution/resistance then do nothing ’cause it’s inconvenient or seems unlikely to change anything. Those “Sale Pub Sexiste” stickers probably didn’t do much to discourage advertisers from objectifying women, but they caused me to cast a more critical eye on some of the ads. Your stickers are worth doing just ’cause they might wake some people up.

  12. Dude! Theres a big difference between getting spare change and sexist publicity, that’s a fucking leap. Tux, PETA needs people like you ;)

  13. @DAVE ID:

    Why all the harsh negativity at the end of perfectly valid comments. No need to invalidate decent observations with personal attacks.

  14. That was sarcasm. PETA can make the leap between a chicken coop and Auschwitz (And I could take that one and go really really far with it) I was just putting things in perspective using my favorite tool, sarcasm. (Don’t worry I’m not so bad once you get to know me)

    Seriously I want to put one of those signs on myself because I get bugged for it at least 5 or 6 times a day by people holding the doors at the subway. If I gave my spare change to them, I’d soon be out of money myself.

  15. If you worked in retail, you would feel differently.
    I managed the Soto Express takeout sushi place on Metcalfe for a year, and it was h*ll for people (and there were, no joking, about 30 of them a day) who came in to the store, feeling ENTITLED to change.
    Now, can I please point out in my case there was: a Scotiabank 10 feet away, meaning they could have gotten change there; a huuuge row of parking meters, making it worse; a guichet next door giving out only 20s, making it worse, etc.
    *I* had to close the store at least *three times daily* to get change for the _store_. My cash only contained a 200$ float, which means give change to 4-5 people and YOU have no change.
    Having said all that, though, my store did NOT put up a sign, because signs look and are tacky as hell and seem rude. I would politely decline and point them to the bank. THAT’s when they would sigh, make a scrunchy face, and say, “But I’d have to line up at the bank”, and I would say, “That’s how I get MY change!”

    Seriously, believe me Blork–if you worked in retail in general or that store in particular, you would feel differently. People–and not ALL people, just most people–take advantages of kindness (freely!) and do little/nothing in return. Sorry if that sounds sad, but that has been my experience.
    And these people did not have any intention of buying anything in my store. But they acted like they were ENTITLED to it–No, sir or ma’am: please go to the Scotiabank for your change, as I do, three times daily.

  16. And actually, the wise solution for this (and it’s what I do at the laundromat) is SAVE UP YOUR CHANGE at home and/or in the car, in a little Tupperware container, and then when you need it, reach in and grab whatever you need–nothing like being prepared and not having to rely on the kindness of strangers!

  17. Stony just solidifies my argument.

    And also, remember the days of TOLL (and I hope they bring those back so that the 450 can pay for all the resources they use in the 514) you had to make sure you had change in your car all the time. When you have a car, you should do the same, especially if you live or work in Montreal, you know you’re are going to meet up with a parking meeter.

  18. I’ll tell you what, every time I go to a store that basically forgets that the reason they exist is me and every other customer I never go back. Ever.

  19. Dear Deluded Cameron, A little reality check, a business owner, and I’ll try to say this with as much eloquence as I can possibly muster, he cares about the colour of his bottom line at the end of the week, the month, the year. And for the bigger stores, the ones that have share holders, thats the only humans the management considers in the final scheme of things. YOU? You’re just a wallet on two feet, a consumer. If you come in asking for change, you don’t change anything to their bottom line so they don’t give a shit about you.

    The reason they exist is sales, if you go away, someone else will come in. Because unless a store does something massively wrong, you’re little blockade will matter not. There will always be more people to buy stuff. We live in a world of massive consumption. Sure we’d love to say how apart from Americans we are, but we’re not that far apart. So basically if the store has a product people need or want they’ll just coming in.

    When it was found out that NIKE was using what is to our culture’s eyes slave labour in foreign coutries, to manufacture ALL of their products did it hurt their bottom line? Hell no, because not enough people gave a crap to stop buying the product. So go ahead, stop going into that store that refused to give you change. It wont CHANGE anything now either.

  20. The most sensible thing I’ve seen in this entire thread is Stony Curtis’s tip about simply making sure you have change. That’s what I do; I keep an old 35MM film canister full of quarters and loonies in the car, and I make sure to refill it when the supply depletes.

    I understand that it’s annoying for retailers to have to deal with making change. What I’m really against is the posting of a sign saying they won’t even try and they don’t even want you to come in and ask.

  21. Exactly my point, keep the change at all time. Even Old Montreal in the old foundry area has parking meters now. You cant get away from them (and trust me, in the old foundry section not even a depanneur in that area so you better have your credit cards)

    They have the sign because they have done it in the past and wont do it anymore probably. Thats probably all there is to it.

    hey wait… you have 35mm canisters? :D

  22. All valid comments, albeit coming from several different angles. Here’s mine…

    I worked the retail trade (usually selling men’s clothing; in several different scenarios and in several different locations) and as we regularly had our doors propped open and sharked the doorway enticing people in, the prospect of someone requiring the use of our washroom, or the convenience of our doorway leading into the mall or the person that needed change for the parking meter was a chance to introduce a person to our wares. We kept a larger float at the downtown store and monitered it for appropriateness to the predicted traffic. I’ve got many a story of how after a wife’s frenzied search for an impulsive purchase that fizzled, a couple would end up back in our accomodating destination adjacent to their parked car where the gentleman was able to feel welcomed and trusting and purchased accordingly – I’m talking shitloads of clothes. I truly believe that retail people have devolved and as a result consumers no longer understand the process and their role. (Have you ever tipped a salesman because he truly helped you that well or were you just along for the ride and only hoped you weren’t being screwed) Deservedly, today’s standard retail employee is treated with scorn because they are inappropriately indifferent.They deserve their plight.

    There is a process to selling and sometimes the simple act of making change is an integral part of it it. A positive experience in a store is on the verge of extinction – It’s been a long time dead in Quebec. “Vivre l’attidude libre!”

  23. A positive experience in a store is on the verge of extinction – It’s been a long time dead in Quebec. “Vivre l’attidude libre!”

    I agree. I went into a shoe store the other day and got completely ignored by 3 salespersons who were the “pretty people” type and I the big rough looking guy am not. Yet I was coming in there to blow hundreds of dollars on shoes, boots and accessories. I look rough and tumble on the week-ends, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have ends. Well I just walked right out and gave my business to another store. That’s where they lose. And I’ll get real pissy with these people, cuz I’m getting snubbed by pimple-faced teenagers who barely make my weekly pay check in a month just because I’m not dressed in the latest poof fashions… fuck them. I have to train these clowns when they leave college and join the cubicle brigade, enough is enough.

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