War in the carpark can be costly

This month’s column was to be a nostalgia piece, a celebration of family driving holidays in the 1960s.  Can you picture it?  Dad behind the driver’s wheel, smoking a rollie and Mum in the back seat knitting – with the kids filling in the spaces between.  

I was really looking forward to taking a trip down memory lane with you, but when I met Marge (not her real name) in a supermarket carpark last week, the nostalgia piece was abandoned in favour of a topic more pressing – car park damage.  

I called her Marge because, like Marge Simpson, her blue hair was piled high on her head.  But the beehive was of no consequence once I spotted her ageing Toyota Hilux ute, replete with dings and dirt, parked nice and snug beside my new car – the one I paid a premium for a few months ago because it was “in showroom condition”.    

Wedged between our two cars, with a fit as neat as a bum in a bucket, was Marge’s shopping trolley.  

When I arrived on the scene Marge was loading the last of her groceries into the passenger side of her ute.  

And, you guessed it!  

To complete the insult, Marge’s passenger side door was wide open and resting in all its dingy glory against my driver’s side door panel.  

With a brittle smile and an even more brittle voice, I asked Marge if I could “help” by returning the now-empty trolley to the supermarket.  

“No way”, she retorted. “I’ve got a trolley token to cash in”.  And with that, she grabbed the door of the ute and slammed it shut emphatically – thunk!  

Now was not the time for niceties.  Marge had raised my hackles.

I could not stand quietly by while she scraped the trolley against the side of my car again.  

Just then a gust of breeze caught a strand of blue hair.  

While Marge adjusted her up-do, I extracted the trolley from between the cars with uncharacteristic speed and precision.  

As Marge trudged back to the supermarket to cash in her trolley token, I checked for panel damage, heart in mouth.  

I could have kicked myself for choosing this car space.

But this time I was lucky. The damage was minor and the miracle worker, my local panel beater, was able to remove Marge’s calling card in five minutes.    

For demonstrations of bad manners and poor behaviour, nothing beats the concrete jungle of the carpark.  Courtesy and respect for person and property are all too frequently left at the carpark entrance.  

Yes, I know life is busy.  But is that a valid excuse for stealing someone else’s car park or using a disabled space without a permit?  

And who is genuinely so busy that there’s no time to return a trolley to the collection bay?  What sort of crumb dings a car and then slips away like a gutless thief in the night?

According to a survey commissioned by Suncorp Insurance, 38 per cent of survey respondents reported that their car had been damaged while parked in the previous year.  

In 94 per cent of those cases, the offending driver did not leave a note.

That is a lot of anonymous damage to a lot of cars.  

And when you consider that the market value of a car can fluctuate by approximately 10 per cent depending on its condition, every carpark misadventure can chip away at the value of your asset.  

Although the average cost of a carpark claim is relatively low (around $1200), dents and scratches that occur over time cannot be claimed.

If you want to maintain the value of your vehicle, it pays to be more careful than I was last week when I parked in a spot that was also attractive to Marge.