Gail Hurmuses is angry she got a parking ticket for $80 at Royal Columbian Hospital last week.
The Burnaby resident took her son to the emergency department after coming home to discover he had a bad infection throughout his body.
When she arrived at the hospital, he was able to walk into the ER while Hurmuses went to pay for parking, but the machine wouldn't accept her credit card.
After another failed attempt, she went to check on her son and forgot about her car.
"We were talking with the triage and everything, and the fact that I didn't have a ticket on my car just left my head," she said. "It was not high on my priority list at the time. My son is 50 years old; he's not a little boy, but he was very, very, very sick."
When she later went back to the ticket machine, she again found it wouldn't accept her card, and when she went to put a note on her windshield, she discovered the lot patroller had left a ticket and envelope on her car.
Later that night she called Impark - the company that manages the pay parking lots at the hospital - and she was put on hold for 25 minutes before being able to explain the machine hadn't been working.
The customer service agent eventually cancelled the ticket, but Hurmuses said she is concerned for other seniors who may not be able to afford a parking ticket at that price if the machine is out of order again.
"I'm a pensioner," she said. "I just happened to have some income of my own. But if I had to live on my pension, I'd be in tough shape if I had to pay an $80 ticket."
Julian Jones, senior vice-president of business development for Impark, said the customer service agent did the right thing in cancelling Hurmuses' ticket, but noted there are situations in which Impark customers may not realize the machine is working and simply have trouble with it.
"Did the patroller know that the machine wasn't working? Or did that customer have an experience with the machine which meant (she) thought it was not working when the patroller, . goes around, it was working? I can't speak to that specific instance, but generally speaking . when the customer phoned, I think (she) got the right response," he said.
The likelihood of a ticket machine being down is "extremely unlikely," Jones said, and noted if any Impark ticketing machines do malfunction, they are repaired within two hours.
"The idea that a machine should not be working . I mean, obviously that's our lifeblood, so that's the reason we spend a lot of time and effort making sure that the machines are up and running as quickly as possible if anything ever does go wrong with them," he said.
Parking rates at the hospital are $4.50 per hour. firstname.lastname@example.org