Students' outrage at windscreen-blocking 'Barnacle' parking device

A university in the US has abandoned plans to introduce a parking enforcement system called 'Barnacle' after students figured out how to remove the clamp-like devices themselves.

The Barnacle is affixed to the offending vehicle's windscreen with suction cups, blocking their view and preventing all but the stupidest motorists from trying to drive. 

"This is for replacing towing," University of Oklahoma parking and transportation services director Kris Glenn said in a social media post, saying rather than having vehicles towed away or clamped, those who breach the rules can pay their fines via their phone, and remove the Barnacle themselves. 

 Your car is still there... you pay a $35 Barnacle fee and then you take the barnacle off and your vehicle is still there, so it's cheaper." 

The Barnacle, which has GPS built in, can then be dumped in a return box in the carpark. 

"This is more user-friendly and it's less expensive," Glenn insisted.

A Barnacle in action.
A Barnacle in action. Photo credit: Barnacle

But students didn't see it that way. 

"The amount of sheer rage festering in my body right now," one wrote on Twitter. "This is what I'm in thousands of dollars of debt for, @UofOklahoma ? I pay HOW MUCH to go here and you continue to exploit us in ludicrous ways for profit? Shameful."

Sally Johnsson later found posts on Reddit explaining how to remove the Barnacle - "turn your defrost on for 15 minutes and you can break the seal with a credit card" one said. "Just leave it there so you don't get in trouble."

Another found out they can be removed with a few simple tools, and thanks to their GPS capabilities, could even be turned into free sources of internet access.

"The SIM cards this particular company was using for the GPS function had unlimited data, so I began to tether off the Barnacle's connection," they wrote. "It took them several months to disconnect the service."

They eventually began collecting Barnacles from neighbours who got targeted by the company, providing photos as proof.

"They were obviously unable to find me or any of the devices," they wrote.

In a statement, the University of Oklahoma said it wanted a "more convenient, cost-saving alternative for students", but would review its decision after receiving a "great deal of feedback". 

Barnacle chief executive Kevin Dougherty told BBC News students would now have to deal with the "hassle" of being towed instead, and insisted the defrost method would no longer work as the devices had been improved.