Chris Ng’s Combustion Chamber Ep. 03: FREE PARKING!

Hello, dear readers, to a weekly column (although I missed last week’s) by yours truly about anything and everything under the sun. But only if the sun shines of things that have two to four wheels, involves motoring in general and the sometimes facepalm moments of being a motoring journalist. I’m not trying to be funny here, so I apologize in advance for causing any unintentional mirth. This is serious business of a business that’s serious.
So, at the risk of this becoming a rant column…
Admittedly, there are things in this world that I find hard to pay for. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe in quality but sometimes I just don’t think the product or service fit the price. Which is why looking I have a little hobby where I look for ways and means to reduce the value of cash that comes out of my wallet. Also, this does its bit to help save money that will go towards a noble cause – the purchase of a pristine (hopefully) Lotus Elise S1. Hey, every bit helps. 

So here’s one thing I find not worth my money – paying the full hour in a mall for a short in-out of 20 minutes. I apologise but the miser and China-man in me wants to extract full value of the RM2.00 parking fee. At the very least, the machine could refund the other 40 minutes but no. Then I realised that there is a way of getting around the system. 

Have you noticed that most malls with an autopay machine give you a grace period of 15 minutes before the first-hour’s fee takes effect? This means that if you enter and exit within 14 minutes 59 seconds, your parking is free. Whoopee! 

Now, have you also noticed that, once you’ve paid your ticket, that you have exactly 15 minutes to hustle out of the parking lot? Can you see where I’m going with this? No?

It is entirely possible to get into a mall, get the thing you want and get out without paying the parking fee. But here’s the thing, you really need to know the layout of the mall, where to park and what to buy. Having said that; the real key is in the timing. You must note the time that you entered and the time that you need to validate the parking ticket. To be on the safe side, you should have it validated at the 14th minute. After that, you also need to make sure that you’re out of the mall before the next 14th minute is up. Follow that and you’ll get about 28 minutes parking for free. 

OK, one more time, here are the steps in brief:

1. Grab the ticket and note the time
2. Find a spot that’s near the entrance, to save time
3. Note the placement of the machines
4. Walks very briskly to the shop
5. Note the time it takes you to reach the shop, multiply by two. Can you make it? Yes, go to Step 6. No? you might as well continue your shopping and enjoy it
6. Grab item and pay
7. Semi-job back to the machine and validate ticket
8. Move, very quickly to next shop, multiply time-distance by two. Can you make it back to your car? No? Decide if you need the other thing.
9. Get that thing real quick
10. Run to your car
11. Proceed to exit, hoping that you’re just in time.

There are other things to note. The first is that not all malls offer this grace period. And second, you can realistically pull this off only during off-peak hours. Still, a Ringgit saved is a Ringgit earned.