We just got back from a fantastic trip to the UK. We landed at Gatwick got a car and drove to Bath then Oxford, Cotswolds, Keswick and Newcastle. From there trains to Durham, Edinburgh and finally London. It was almost perfect.
We are always on the lookout for pick pockets and street vendor scams and the sort but never expected disappointment from the government itself.
First one was Oxford. We found a parking lot on a Saturday which was great. But for whatever reason my first attempt to pay at the machine with a credit card ended with an error. A parking attendant in a yellow vest happened to be near by so I asked him how do we pay with cash. He said, "let me help you" and started to press buttons. He asked how long we wanted to stay and my wife and I both said 5 hours. Then he asked for the car registration (license plate) which I had in my phone. He said you must have a rental. I was wondering why he would ask that but we entered the plate number and then he said you can try your card again. It worked. We were happy that all was well, or appeared to be, so I placed the little ticket on the dash and off we went. Three hours later we came back thinking we had plenty of time only to find a notice taped to our windshield for a 50 pound penalty! The parking attendant was still there and played ignorance. I went online to write my protest and received a response that sounded like it didn't come from a customer service department but from someone who worked in the local office, probably the guy who helped us. Anyway, my protest was denied and we were told we should have checked the expiration. That being true, obviously this happens a lot and obviously the parking attendant would have known that and could have, if he really was being helpful, checked it along with me (it didn't say number of hours but expiration time in 24 hour format which I don't register quickly). As it is we paid over $70 for 3 hours of parking!
Another case, we rented bikes in London. All the information says first 30 minutes are free after that it's 2 pounds for 24 hours. When we re-docked the bikes an hour and 9 minutes later (according to their records) I got a text that said we were charged the correct amount, 4 pounds. But two days after we returned home we saw a charge for $10. As it turns out they say it's 2 pounds PER HALF HOUR! And the lady was insistent that it is very clear before you pay. If you do a search for Santander this has happened a lot to people to the tune of several hundred dollars! The problem is that London city gov sponsors the bike "hire" but it's outsourced to private companies similar to how it's done in Seattle. It appears Santander does this in the US as well.
It wasn't a great loss and we still had a fantastic trip despite this crap but thought I'd share we need to be alert for all transactions and places we visit.