3.03.2010

advice needed on erroneous parking ticket

Last week I parked at what I thought was a Toronto Parking Authority "Green P" lot, but apparently is a lot operated by a private company called Imperial Parking, or Impark.

The machine appeared to take my money (credit card payment) but did not print out a receipt. This had happened to me once before at the same lot, and I learned that I was supposed to call the phone number on the machine. I tried to do so, but couldn't get through.

I left a note on my dashboard saying that the machine wasn't printing receipts.

When I came back, I had a ticket.

I called Impark the next day, and was told that, since I was already on record as having had a ticket cancelled, and at that time had been informed to call from the parking lot, they would not cancel the ticket.

However, since I paid by credit card, when the payment showed up on my statement, I could fax the statement to them and they would accept it as proof of payment.

I found this very annoying. Their machines don't work properly, but the onus is on the customer to prove that she has paid. Surely if the machines weren't printing receipts, I am not the only person this happened to that night. Can't they check the system to see if the machines were off-line or malfunctioning? No. I have to take the time and expense to fax a copy of my credit card statement to Vancouver.

Payment for parking usually appears on a credit card statement in 3-5 days. I've waited a full week, and still no payment has posted. Obviously the machine appeared to take my payment but did not.

Today I called Impark again. They will not cancel the ticket, because they have already cancelled a ticket for me and cannot - make that will not - cancel another. I was supposed to call from the parking lot. I told the agent that I tried, but couldn't get through. She said that's not possible because it's an automated, 24-hour number. I was supposed to leave a message. I heard no opportunity to leave a message.

The agent informed me that she could reduce the ticket from $42.61 to $30, and hold that amount for one week. After that, it will become an unpaid ticket at $74.15.

I offered to pay for the cost of parking, which was $5.00, but she said she can't do that (and acted like I was insane for suggesting it).

I have contacted the Toronto Parking Authority. They have no jurisdiction over Impark, a private company, so I asked for the name of the agency that oversees private parking companies. Presumably Impark is awarded a contract by the City of Toronto, so there must be some oversight. The Toronto Parking Authority said to their knowledge there is no oversight agency.

I'm not paying $30 for $5 parking, which I tried to pay in the first place, because this company's meters are not properly maintained.

Any ideas on what I can do?

23 comments:

Robert said...

If it has a city of Toronto logo on it, then you have to pay it, if not, then you don't have to worry about it.

L-girl said...

If it has a city of Toronto logo on it, then you have to pay it, if not, then you don't have to worry about it.

More information, please?

I'm definitely not paying it. But what do you mean?

Robert said...

Only the city has the right to issue parking tickets - the yellow ones handed out by parking authority officers - private companies don't. Some companies do hire the parking authority to issue tickets, ie. UofT, but some don't. It all depends on the ticket itself. If it's the same kind of ticket issued by the city, with the city of Toronto (city hall) logo on it, then even if you don't pay it now, you'll have to before you can renew your license plate tags (assuming you have Ontario plates). If it's not one of these, then no worries.

L-girl said...

Robert, thanks so much. You have just saved me untold time and effort, which is extremely valuable to me right now.

I wasn't going to pay a $30 fine to settle a $5 ticket that was the company's error, but I was going to try to fight it, explain it, report them, whatever.

Now I will not!

I guess I shouldn't park at that lot anymore, eh.

L-girl said...

Only the city has the right to issue parking tickets

This is interesting. So this ticket is bogus in the first place?

When you think about it, it makes sense.

A private company owns a lot, but they don't pay an attendant to work it, they use an automated meter.

Their meter doesn't work, then they act like they're some kind of official agency that can declare some amount that you must pay, adding on fines, demanding you fax them proof.

But they have no official capacity to do so.

Huh.

redsock said...

There are probably other people out there discussing this same problem.

...

Yep.

"On May 28, 2009 IMPARK (Imperial Parking Canada Corporation) had a $50,000,000.00 class action law suit launched against it in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (Court File No. CV-09-00379652-00CP). ...

Upon review of public records, apparently IMPARK of Imperial Parking Canada Corporation have been involved in a number of court/tribunal proceedings over the years in Ontario."

Dharma Seeker said...

I got a ticket once for parking in my friend's apartment building lot. There was no sign designating it as a no parking zone, or a tenant only zone. The ticket was issued by a private company. I chucked it and never heard about it again.

L-girl said...

DS, good news, thanks for sharing.

The more I think about it, the crazier it seems. If I owe a company $5, are they allowed to tell me I now owe them $75 because I didn't pay within one week? (That's what the ticket supposedly goes up to after one week.) Pretty sure that's called usury.

johngoldfine said...

"I guess I shouldn't park at that lot anymore, eh."

Actually, unless the Imperials have a wheel boot, wouldn't it make sense to park there, hoping that the machine would screw up again and the worst that could happen as a result would be a ticket you could ignore?

I'd be tempted....

Denny said...

Sounds like Ontario is more consumer friendly than Alberta when it comes to parking tickets.

In Alberta, private companies like IMPARK have access to the driver registry system, so if you don't pay the ticket, they can use your license plate number to get your name and address from Alberta Registries, then they hire a collection agency to collect the money. So in Alberta even though they can't issue court enforceable tickets like municipal parking authorities and police officers, they can sick a collection agency on you.

redsock said...

I thought Alberta was one province that has since voted to deny Impark that data.

Denny said...

No, they just changed the legislation so that impark can't call and harass people in the middle of the night anymore.

Joe Gravellese said...

I know that in Boston where parking is precious and limited, a lot of people illegally park on college campuses, because when college police departments write you tickets, they are absolutely meaningless unless you go to school/work at the college. I know someone who owes about $1,500 in parking tickets to Harvard; if he ever applies to the school I suppose he's screwed, but otherwise, no worries.

L-girl said...

Actually, unless the Imperials have a wheel boot, wouldn't it make sense to park there, hoping that the machine would screw up again and the worst that could happen as a result would be a ticket you could ignore?

I'd be tempted....


As am I. Hmm. But...

In Alberta, private companies like IMPARK have access to the driver registry system, so if you don't pay the ticket, they can use your license plate number to get your name and address from Alberta Registries, then they hire a collection agency to collect the money.

That sucks. Do we know they can't do that in Ontario?

I know someone who owes about $1,500 in parking tickets to Harvard; if he ever applies to the school I suppose he's screwed, but otherwise, no worries.

Love it. Chances are he knows if he's ever going to apply to Harvard or not. Sounds like a great system.

Adam said...

write your MPP. Alert the local media. And contact the Mayor's office regarding the problem. Sounds like the same type of problems "they" have with privatized Highway 407; bogus bills/erroneous charges. Posting the issue on social networks like FB and Twitter. Oh,...and the Better Business Bureau. Take them to small claims court and then write about it.

dogsled_stacie said...

Oh this brings back memories! I had well over $400 in Imperial Parking tickets in Calgary, which my dad discovered one day as they came falling out of the glovebox! He was worried I'd get carted off to jail, so called a cop friend of his who essentially said "might as well just throw them out..."

This was back in the early 90's so perhaps things have changed from what Denny says. I never heard a thing from my Imperial friends.

But back then, when I racked up a lot of tickets in one parking lot, I just moved onto the next one... It became a game of "ooh! Will my car be towed when i get there? Or will I have a ride home??" Bad I know, but I blame it on youthful rebellion!

dogsled_stacie said...

OMG you totally added a trash can to my comment!!

Haha! Just catching up on your blog...:)

L-girl said...

write your MPP. Alert the local media. And contact the Mayor's office regarding the problem. Sounds like the same type of problems "they" have with privatized Highway 407; bogus bills/erroneous charges. Posting the issue on social networks like FB and Twitter. Oh,...and the Better Business Bureau. Take them to small claims court and then write about it.

Adam, I love your activist attitude and energy. That's definitely the right idea with consumer issues.

But... I don't think I would invest a lot of time and energy over this. If the company started to harass me for payment, then I would take steps like the ones you suggest. (Minus the small claims court, that's to recover money, and I have nothing to recover, as I've paid nothing.)

In addition, when I did contact the City of Toronto, thinking I was reporting the bad practices of a company with a City contract, they told me, there's no oversight, the City has nothing to do with them! Yeesh.

But I simply don't have the time and energy to pursue these kinds of measures, when so far, all I have is their demand that I pay.

L-girl said...

OMG you totally added a trash can to my comment!!

Haha! Just catching up on your blog...:)


ROFL !!

She is now threatening me with legal action, because I linked the word "Sheri" to the Blog of Unnecessary Quotations.

L-girl said...

But back then, when I racked up a lot of tickets in one parking lot, I just moved onto the next one... It became a game of "ooh! Will my car be towed when i get there? Or will I have a ride home??" Bad I know, but I blame it on youthful rebellion!

You is my kind of girl. :)

redsock said...

She is now threatening me with legal action, because I linked the word "Sheri" to the Blog of Unnecessary Quotations.

Get in line, Sheri! The most-assuredly not-insane individuals from Common Ills are ahead of you.

By the way, CI, we're still waiting. Still chatting with your lawyers, are you? ...

Marky Mark said...

City tickets relate to an "offense" whereas a private ticket is a civil matter having to do with either breach of contract or trespassing. Absent the city or province giving a private company the authority to issue tickets (and I don't think this would be possible), you can't be "convicted" of an offense and therefore can't be requried to pay a fine.

laura k said...

To the person searching for info about ImPark, I never paid this so-called ticket, although I would have certainly paid for parking if their meters hadn't been broken. I never paid it, nothing ever came of it. They had absolutely no way to enforce it or come after me.

I never paid it and I never heard from them again, end of.