Woman disputes parking ticket at Old Orchard
A Burnaby woman is disputing a parking ticket she received while at Old Orchard Shopping Centre over the summer.
Cecilia Wong said she had a coffee and muffin at the Marketplace IGA store at Kingsway and Willingdon Avenue on her lunch break on July 6 and returned to her vehicle to find a parking ticket on her windshield.
"I was scratching my head but what can you do?" she recalled.
The next day, she called Impark, which manages the parking lot and issued the ticket. The person she spoke with told her she needed to show proof of having shopped at the mall.
Not having kept the receipts for her coffee and muffin, she eventually sent in the lottery ticket she bought that day, after making sure it wasn't a winner.
On Aug. 14, Impark sent her another letter, and she called again mentioning she'd responded with the Lotto Max ticket. The Impark employee confirmed they'd received it but said the ticket wasn't adequate proof because it didn't indicate it was from the IGA.
After speaking with the clerk at the lottery kiosk, she learned that all tickets have a retailer number clearly indicating where she bought it. On Aug. 23, Wong wrote back to Impark with that information.
That was followed, on Sept. 18, by a letter from City Collection, seeking payment of the $80 ticket.
"Our client has instructed us to pursue this debt vigorously. This could include contacting you by telephone or instructing our client's solicitor to proceed with civil action."
Wong was dumbfounded and decided to take her case to the NewsLeader.
"I don't think they have the right to threaten me all the time."
She said she had been a regular customer at the mall but the ticket situation has turned her off.
"I don't go that often because I'm angry," she said. "There are other places you can go."
Impark spokesperson Julian Jones said customers are entitled to park at Old Orchard as long as they don't leave the shopping centre.
"The patroller on the lot will literally watch the parker and see if they actually leave the mall property, and if they do, they'll issue a parking notice at that point."
Impark has checked its notes on the file and "this particular individual did in fact leave the lot," Jones said. "Indeed, when the customer called, she admitted leaving the lot. So that's why she got the notice."
The Old Orchard parking lot, being in close proximity to Metrotown mall, has a "very high non-compliance rate" with people parking there then walking to other destinations, Jones said.
"Our specific instructions are to manage that and make that parking available for the intended use that it's there for."
Jones offered to void Wong's ticket.
"If anyone feels very strongly they didn't understand, and as long as on their file we see that they don't do this regularly, then we're always happy to void the ticket. It's part of an education process and we understand."
As for the notice from the collection agency, Jones suggested it was likely a "timing issue" between Wong's letter being processed and the collections letter being triggered.
In a subsequent interview, Wong denied that she ever left the lot or had admitted doing so. Nevertheless, she was happy to have the ticket voided.