Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Impark Imperfect

On Monday, October 26 I attended a rally for healthcare at the Legislature. I got there via a friend and his van. Thinking that all of the parking meters in the area only allowed 20 minutes (we would be there at least an hour and did not want to have to keep running back to the vehicle), we parked in a lot owned by Imperial Parking, known to most in Edmonton as Impark. The lot was located at 109 street and 99 avenue.

I volunteered to pay for the parking, and since I did not have six dollars in coins (yup - six bucks for an hour), I decided to use my Mastercard. I read the instructions: first I was to press any button to get started. Then, I was to pick what amount of time I wanted. Then, I was to insert my credit card and have the appropriate amount charged. I have done this before and thought I knew what to expect.

I went ahead and pushed a button. I was then prompted to insert my credit card. I thought, "OK, maybe I'll be asked what amount of time I want after I insert." I wasn't. The machine went ahead and charged me for a full day of parking: $34. Thirty four dollars down the drain. I managed to calm down, went to the rally, and then at one p.m. sharp (we had arrived at 12:08 p.m. according to the ticket) left and went on to other errands we had to do that afternoon. My intention was to call Impark to dispute the ticket, but by the time I got home and took care of some time-sensitive work issues, it was too late to call.

So, I called first thing Tuesday morning. I explained to the the very polite person at the other end who told me that I should have called immediately - since it was an all day ticket I could have continued to use it or given it to someone else to use. And of course, she had never ever heard of anything like this happening before. I told her that when we returned to the lot, there was a crowd of people around the meter shrugging their shoulders and making other actions in frustration.

Now, I sort of see their point, however, I did not such thing and what happened to me was wrong: my credit card should not have been charged without giving me the option of picking what I wanted to pay. Nor does it say anywhere on the ticket that if there is a dispute with the charge to call immediately -- just the usual disclaimer about damage and theft. I did not know I had a limited window in which I had to make the call. I feel very ripped off.

Needless to say, when I attended the Keep Alberta Nuclear Free rally at the Legislature on Tuesday, we avoided the Impark lot and used a meter -- some of them are only good for 20 minutes but others are hourly. We paid $2.50 for one hour, right in front of the lot. I don't plan on using an Impark lot again in the near future and I am encouraging others to do the same. I don't believe the onus should be on the consumer when something goes wrong.

1 comment:

Sirthinks said...

Get to the Legislature a little earlier and park for free right on the grounds. I have never paid for parking at the #ableg.

Impark sucks!