Why I’m happy to pay for currently free electric car chargers at my local shopping centre

Having used free electric car chargers in various locations I’ve realised they are a bad idea overall because free things don’t get treated with respect and don’t generate any income to help pay for maintenance.

I live near Marrickville Metro shopping centre and often shop there. While I shop I sometimes use one of the 4 x 11kW AC slow electric car chargers in the carpark or if I’m in a hurry I use one of the 2 x 50kW DC Evie Networks brand fast chargers.

At present the Marrickville Metro Evie chargers are well managed and maintained by Evie Networks, who charge a fee per kWh used by an electric car connected to their chargers.

However the 4 free AC slow chargers nearby and their designated electric car charging spaces are a different story altogether, which will be appreciated by other Aussie EV drivers who have experienced the pros and cons of free AC chargers nearby.

The Marrickville Metro 4 x AC slow chargers have had “Free Trial” signs since mid 2021 when they were first made available.

Some examples of bad behaviour I have seen:

  1. Fossil fuel cars sometimes park in the 4 x AC charger designated electric car charging spaces with impunity as centre management don’t appear to fine them
  2. Some electric car owners park in the 4 x AC charger designated electric car charging spaces without plugging their cars in and go shopping for long periods
  3. Some electric car owners leave their cars in the 4 x AC charger designated electric car charging spaces long after the car has reached 100% charge, as shown below
  4. On one occasion I even saw someone drive their EV in, start a free charging session, get out of their car lock it and then get in a car driven by someone else to go out of the centre. I’m guessing they live nearby and are leeching free charging regularly without spending anything at Marrickville Metro.

This led me to assume that the 4 x AC chargers in Marrickville Metro are unmanaged and abandoned by their owners.

Surely it is time to start charging a fair usage fee per kWh for all currently free AC chargers, list them in a charging app and penalise overstayers with idle fees.

This would stop a lot of bad behaviour and encourage turnover so more people can use local AC chargers.

At Marrickville Metro it should be trivial to arrange via EVSE the suppliers of the Ocular AC Chargers used at Marrickville Metro & a charging network app like Chargefox or Exploren.

Any cost incurred in switching to actively managing currently free AC chargers would be clawed back swiftly by customer payments for electricity usage and idle fees.

Income earnt from the chargers would help to pay for their initial install cost and also encourage the centre owners to install more chargers.

I asked the owners of Marrickville Metro what their plans were for the 4 x AC slow chargers and their designated electric car charging spaces.

This was the response from GPT below.

Other shopping locations that offer free AC charging which attracts poor user behaviour such as Top Ryde and Rhodes Central should follow the lead of GPT and consider charging a fair fee/kWh plus idle fees.

Dear Neerav,

Thank you for taking the time to write to us with your feedback on the electric vehicle (EV) charging outlets at Marrickville Metro. I am sorry to hear of your experience in using the AC charging stations and acknowledge your comments regarding the management of these designated car spaces.

Along with the signage and markings in place, centre management works closely with our security team and local authorities to actively manage our carparks. We also rely on the goodwill of shoppers to ensure multiple cars are able to access charging stations throughout the day.

In the event centre management are aware of a car improperly using a designated EV charging space, we endeavour to have the issue rectified through announcements over the public address system.

Since commencing the management of Marrickville Metro in September 2022, GPT has maintained the free trial of the AC charging stations as a positive gesture, and to the point you raise, is currently undertaking an assessment of what is required to implement financial charges on the assets, including the ability for charges to continue when EV vehicles remain in the charging location. This will ensure other users have the ability to engage the charging facility more frequently.

GPT recognises EVs play an important role in the transition to a low carbon economy, and the inclusion of charging equipment in high traffic areas of the built environment, like shopping centres, requires careful assessment and planning.

We continue to explore the broader EV space carefully to ensure any future installation of charging equipment for our customers is aligned with GPT’s broader interests regarding safety, existing electrical infrastructure, carpark usage and holistic environmental sustainability targets.

Thank you again for reaching out with your feedback. The comfort, enjoyment and safety of our shoppers, retailers and staff is of the utmost priority at Marrickville Metro.

Kind regards
Mike Charlton
Centre Manager


4 responses to “Why I’m happy to pay for currently free electric car chargers at my local shopping centre”

  1. Personally I love that they’re free, that I don’t love is that Uber drivers now charge there all day and sometimes overnight.

    I have that info from 2 different EV drivers who charge there regularly.

    One uses the gym and see cars charging at 6am which have been there overnight and are at 100% and sometimes stay there for hours and hours into the day. I bet that person who dropped their car was an Uber driver.

  2. Neerav Bhatt

    That’s exactly why free unlimited use chargers are a bad idea.

    They never get shared fairly and attract people who are selfish resource hogs

  3. Absolutely agree free is poor these days. It just attracts freeloaders, and also means a charger/EVSE is less likely to be repaired if it breaks.
    That said it was reasonable up until the last couple of years when billing capable chargers were expensive and usage meant you probably wouldn’t recover the extra costs and monthly fees. Installing an EV point was just a “green” checkbox.
    On the 2nd point my understanding is most billing providers are still charging $20-30/mth per point. That fee itself should be falling as they get more chargers on their network and it’s mostly fixed costs.
    Also a question of what is reasonable for AC charging.. some recent of the NSW Govt ones that have popped up (EVX, Intellihub/Exploren) are 50-60c/kWH, and some hotel based ones even flat $20-30 fee (very expensive if you are say at 50% charge).
    That seems pretty high to me compared to similar pricing from Evie/ NRMA for faster and way more expensive to install 50kW DC chargers.

  4. On Marrickville particularly if also note the spaces aren’t painted (and are too close to the entrance).
    The signage also doesn’t meet NSW legislation to enable a fine to be issued.

    That said it’s a private carpark, so council staff can’t fine (unless they have an agreement with the centre owner – and most councils charge for that) and you are pretty unlikely to get police attending.

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