The Calgary Parking Authority (CPA) has phased out the 10-minute phone call warning on its parking app, and that has one frequent user asking if it’s a cash grab by the city.
Doug Clark often makes service calls in the downtown and uses the app to pay for his parking while he’s there.
He said he relied on the call to remind him to top up his parking or move his vehicle when he’s working.
“Last year, even with the phone reminding me, I still had $300 worth of parking tickets,” said Clark.
On Friday, he got back to his vehicle only to find his parking had expired about 10 minutes before. He wondered why he hadn’t received the warning call, and found out that the feature had been removed.
He noted that 10 minutes wasn’t a long time, but it might be long enough for the enforcement vehicle to drive by and catch him.
Clark said he contacted the parking authority and was told that they’d been getting a lot of complaints from users about the warning call, so they disabled the feature.
“The whole thing just really bugged me,” said Clark. “It’s hard enough working downtown. You’ve got to pay for parking and you only get 3 hours.
“If there’s a few people who don’t like it, just put an opt-out button in.”
Adrian Mrdeza, commutations advisor for CPA, said the feature was actually removed last year after they received many customer complaints about the feature.
The call back feature was optional, and it did have an off switch in the app.
“It was removed as a customer driven enhancement,” said Mrdeza.
She said even though there was an off switch, they received many, many calls about the reminder.
Mrdeza said there’s a way to get a phone call reminder, but not through the app.
“If he wants the callback feature, it still exists, but has to start a session by calling or he has to start a session by by text message,” she said.
However Clark isn’t satisfied with the response he received. He believes that with the rise of smartphones, CPA can only make it easier for people to avoid fines.
He said he just wants to pay for the time he uses, and removing an optional reminder is bad form.
“It’s worse than a speed trap at the bottom of a hill,” he said.