Drivers are avoiding parking spots that require payment by phone as cash remains a more popular way to pay, according to the AA.
The motoring organisation’s survey of 16,000 members suggests seven out of 10 would look for parking elsewhere rather than use the “pay by phone” meters.
The AA says people are put off by administration fees and voice-controlled phone payment systems.
But councils said that paying by phone was a quick and convenient option.
‘Talking to a robot’
Nearly eight in 10 pensioners who responded to the AA survey said they would drive on rather than use them, the same proportion as drivers on low incomes.
Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said: “Not only can it be a struggle to find a space but now, when you do find one, you may be required to talk to an automated system to pay the charge – not ideal if you have an appointment or just want to get in and get out quickly.
“All providers should make it easier to pay for parking. Not everyone has a smartphone to pay via an app and not everyone is keen to talk to a robot to pay for an hour’s stay. For the elderly and low-income drivers, pay-by-phone feels almost discriminatory.”
It argued that, while many drivers prefer to pay in cash, there was disgruntlement that some parking machines did not accept the new 12-sided £1 coin and others did not give change.
A spokesman for the Local Government Association, which represents local authorities, said: “Councils offer a variety of ways to pay for parking, and paying by phone can be a quick and convenient way to do so.
“As the AA’s own research shows, 76% of councils in England have already converted the parking machines they are responsible for to accept the new £1 coin. Others are well on the way towards doing so.
“Having a range of options to pay for parking, for residents and visitors, is the best way for councils to serve the needs of their local communities.”
The AA has also left itself open to accusations of mixed messages by criticising phone payment parking spaces on the same day as it unveils its own card payment system for small businesses.
In the marketing for its new Card Pay project, it says that “cash is a thing of the past for 62% of UK small businesses”.