Private car parks are a miserable pain in everyone's life. Gone are the days where you could pull up outside a shop, grab a parking space, race in, get what you need and get out. These days you have to park 30 miles away and pay £900 an hour for the privilege.
So we're pleased to see confused.com grabbing the bull by the horns, and giving a way a free iOS app that helps punters locate a car park near to them, as well as offering other very helpful services.
Confused.com parking (iOS)
- iPhone, iPod Touch
As you might expect, the primary goal of the confused.com app is to find you somewhere to park. This can be done via GPS on an iPhone, or using the Wi-Fi location system on an iPod Touch. It's also possible to search for a place you're about to visit, so you can get the skinny on parking before you pull up.
You can call up either a list of local park-houses or see on a map where the nearest multi-storey is. We prefered the map option, because for some reason car parks all seem to have wildly obscure names that mean nothing if you're new to an area.
It's also possible to set the amount of time you want to stay. When you do this, the app calculates how much you'll pay for your stay, which is far more helpful than most car park signs, which do their level best to obfuscate the real cost from you. This also allows you to compare one car park to another, and find the cheapest place to tuck your car.
There are also filters, so you can select car parks that are protected by CCTV and those where you can pay via a mobile phone. You can also find park-and-rides as well as car parks served by a park-and-ride service.
There's even an option to share your car park find with friends. Either by SMS (or iMessage), email or via Twitter. That might very well be handy if you're telling people who don't know the area where to go. It's also sure to save them the argument about where to park.
Once you're parked, there's a timer too, which will remind you if you're about to get a "ticket" by one of those officious parking attendants, whose sole goal in life is extract even more money from you. Beat the swines, use the timer and never be late back to your car again. But if you are, remember this, on private land there is no legal way for a parking company to "fine" you. They can write to you until they are blue in the face, but legally you're entitled to ignore them. Oh, the letters you'll get, but they are all about scaring and bullying you into coughing up money. If necessary, wait for them to take you to court, but don't hold your breath, they never do, and if they did, they'd never win.
Where were we? Oh right, the confused.com app is superb, if you're an iOS user, get it today.