Private parking is outrageous


Anyone who drives knows the outrageous prices one has to pay for parking in a private lot; hospitals being the worst of the bunch. McMaster University is no exception. Yesterday I had an interview with the Dean of Health Sciences at 10:00 a.m. and needed to park relatively close to the building on campus. Parking is five dollars an hour and is handled by a machine. Even though it burns a hole through my wallet, I have no problem following procedure and paying what I have to in order to park some place. However, when I tried to pay at the machine, it wouldn’t take my money, specifically a ten dollar bill. I spent five minutes trying to get the machine to take the money for a permit. For five minutes I looked like a complete idiot flipping and turning the bill around, trying all sorts of things, before I gave up.

I was already a few minutes late for my appointment and had to go. I’m never late for anything, so showing up late after fooling around with the machine agitated me. After the interview, which took two hours, I had two tickets on my car. The first one was given at 10:06 a.m. That’s literally six minutes after I parked there. The second one was an hour later. The tickets are $30 each, which increase to $55 after ten days.

So my entire problem has grown into multiple issues. The parking attendant tagged my car minutes after leaving it alone. Why couldn’t they have been there to help me pay for a permit? It could have been bad timing on my part or perhaps they was hiding in the bushes waiting for me to walk away. Next, when I’m expected to pay/do something, I expect the service to be available. If McMaster wants to inconvenience me with having to pay for parking, why is it such a hassle? I tried to pay (Which they should have on camera), they made me late and I was given tickets.

Lastly (The biggest issue of all), there’s the option of filing for an appeal, which is what I’m going to try to do. However, it seems like that system is designed to make you give up and quit. In order to appeal a ticket, you must either submit a written appeal to the office in person or by mail within the ten days your ticket was issued. On the back of the ticket it says I can also go online to get the form I need to fill out and, of course, the form doesn’t exist. Right now my only option is to go back down to McMaster University, pay for parking again, find the parking office and do it all there. All this work and the appeal will eventually be denied. What kind of system is this?

Some might be thinking “I’ve heard people say not to pay these tickets because there’s nothing they can do.” Oh, but there is. Having a ticket like this could affect your license renewal or credit rating depending on how they handle it. If McMaster issues tickets under Hamilton bylaws, you will have to pay an enormous accumulated fine when you go to renew your plates. If they send your information out to creditors, prepare for daily harassment. It’s a lose/lose situation.

I’m minutes away from calling them now to see what can be done. I’ve never been an optimistic person so I’m pretty sure the outcome will be me paying $60 for a ten dollar ticket. I’m going to explain my argument and see what they say.

-=Update=-

Somehow I caught a break. They’re letting me off with a warning this time since I have no prior violations. Sounds good to me. However, I still have the same opinion that private parking is flawed. I asked about the meter and the unavailable online form. She said the permit machine is finicky and doesn’t always work, and I could have pressed the help button on it, which should have been obvious to me at the time. I also could have paid for a regular ticket before I left, negating the violations I was given. I honestly wasn’t aware the latter option was available. As for their website, she said the form is something they’re working on and isn’t available yet. These are all great excuses that don’t fly in my book; things need to be simple. My question is, why put policies and procedures down when they aren’t available, like the online form? I guess all of this doesn’t matter since I’m off the hook. I only hope this rant can help someone out in the future, preventing them from looking like a goof like I did.

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