Every day is a winding road

As mistakes go, it was a small one, but the resulting cost did hit hard. I was headed this week to see my eye doctor at Toronto Western Hospital. I usually park at an asphalt lot run by Canada Wide Parking on Bathurst Street opposite the hospital. There were about thirty cars already there and just two slots left, so I was happy to get one.
There’s no attendant, just a pay machine where you use a credit card. It’s a bit of a complicated setup. First, you have to enter your licence plate info so it appears on the ticket you place on your dash. The morning sun was shining on the glass-faced pay machine but I eventually was able to fill in my plate number.
There were now three choices on the glass for length of stay. When I pressed each of the first two, both offered parking until 10:30. That didn’t seem like enough time to see my doctor and get back, but I did think for a moment about pressing one of those buttons on the assumption that if I didn’t return until 11, the likelihood of me being found out was pretty slim.
But I thought better of that sneaky choice and pressed the third spot which looked amid the sun’s glare like 26. I assumed that was $26 for the day rate. I’d paid $24 in the past but concluded there’d been a price increase along with most everything else.
The machine spat out my ticket. I looked at it and my eyes popped. I was there at 9:30 on Wednesday morning but I’d somehow bought parking until Saturday at 6:46 a.m., three days hence. When I looked more closely, I realized I’d paid $100. That’s probably twice as much as the eye doctor charged OHIP for my visit.
When I got home, I looked up Canada Wide Parking online. The (416) number rang and rang. No one answered. The 1-800 number at least had voicemail so I left a detailed message about my expensive encounter. It’s now three days hence. No one has called me back.
Why does that not surprise me? If no one’s at the lot, why would there be someone at the office? Canada Wide Parking sure sounds like a national organization but I have a vision of some guy sitting in far-off Napanee, Ont., raking in the dough, with no one on payroll to worry about. I’d be happy to hear from him to discuss my complaint, but somehow I can’t imagine I ever will. Even Vegas doesn’t take your money that fast.

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