McQUARRIE – New RIH parking payment system a backwards step

KAMLOOPS — As I entered the hospital parking lot I was reminded of Richard Dawkins’ quote that went something like, “Don’t ask God to cure cancer and world poverty.  He’s too busy finding you a parking space.”

This day being Monday, Dec. 12 was also the first day the hospital parking system returned to the old practice of gouging patients and visitors alike.  Today was a freebee, IHA’s way of gently welcoming you back to those days of yesteryear and estimating and prepaying for the time you would be spending in their care.

Guess how long your visit or procedure would be, tack on an estimate for the yet to be determined delays, toss in a quick parking lot anger management session, remember your license plate number and pull out your credit card because this is going to cost you.

Speaking of that credit card, keep in mind the machine taking your money was provided by the lowest bidder, so is apt to have trouble reading the chip on your credit card.  More stress and more time, which is just how a visit to the hospital should begin.

Now, I don’t mind paying for parking, even in a building that wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for my tax dollars.  However, I do mind and mind very much being taken to the cleaners as a result of inept management by a team of IHA executives.

Like that old movie, ‘The Gang Who Couldn’t Shoot Straight’, this gang who couldn’t build a simple garage has messed things up with just about every step.

Garage exits too narrow?  Tear out one of those exits.

Can’t make a left turn onto Columbia St?  Build a roundabout on 5th Avenue that at times is near impossible to get to from the RIH garage.

Lose parking revenue?  Go back to the pre-pay system.

Declare a waiting-in-line-to-exit state of emergency and utter chaos (it once took someone nearly 60 seconds to make it out) and blame it on the old payment system.

The practice of paying for the exact time you occupied one of those parking spaces is an ancient practice, dating way back to the 1900s and still works today, at least everywhere except the Interior Health Authority’s parking lot.

The IHA has reverted to the excess revenue generating system of guess your time and pay in advance.  It forces one to overestimate the time needed and pay for it in order to avoid an even more expensive parking ticket.

IHA loves it as it turns a parking space into a billable hours model.  By that I mean, a space worth say $2 an hour when on the ‘time used’ system can actually generate something like $2.75 to $3.95 when on the usurious prepay system.

This happens because just about everyone will pay for more time than actually needed or used. You leave with time still remaining, the next car takes your already paid for space, pays again and as fast as a cabinet minister can say double dipping, that little old parking space is raking in the cash.  And it was done by pilfering a bit of your money and a bit of the next guy’s and so on.

It’s a little sleight of hand that takes a dollar here and 50 cents there. However, going by IHA figures, it’s possible that in the past this accounted for upwards of 35 per cent of their parking revenue.  It obviously pays to take the patient to the cleaners.

The short-lived system of paying for time used was not billable hours friendly, so like that extra exit lane it had to go.  It seems the Gang Who Couldn’t Build a Garage wants the old ways of taking your money to return.  In so doing they don’t seem to care it’s a hospital and they’re taking you for a financial ride during what is usually one of the more stressful times in your life.

It is a model that preys upon your vulnerable state of mind by adding the fear of a hefty parking ticket to all your other hospital visit worries.  You solve that parking ticket worry by giving the IHA more money than required.  They know most of you will do it and they happily take advantage of that knowledge.

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