Does This make any sense at all?


Does This make any sense at all?

The city of Toronto surcharges people who pay their parking tickets on line or by phone (automatic) but I guess if you come downtown, walk in, take up the time of a clerk, you don’t have to pay the surcharge.

This makes absolutely no sense at all. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? If someone pays on line or by phone, shouldn’t they get a break? After all they are reducing the cost of doing business for the city? NON!!!Not in this largest of Canadian Cities. Let me parse it for you. You know what’s coming, don’t you?

Seems the extra fee ($2 for phone payments, $1.50 for internet payments) generates about $1.4 million for the city. It’s another way of generating money without calling it a tax. It’s a “fee.” I can’t think of a business on the planet that wouldn’t give a person a discount if they didn’t have to deal with them face to face. It saves time, money, and makes for a happier customer. The government? HA

They see it not as a cost saving factor for them, but as a way to garner more income.

The city issues about 2.8 million tickets a year and assuming 900,000 are paid on line or by phone (and assuming they are all by credit card) that means that over 1.6 Million are processed by hand. I did some math and find that the city must have at least 65 people processing these tickets. OK, let’s be generous. Let’s call it 40. At what $60,000 per year for a clerk (I know it’s much more, but I’m being generous again) that’s a cost of labor of $2.4 million. Wouldn’t the city be much better off to REDUCE the fee of those paying on line by a few bucks and entice more to pay that way? Reduce staff, save money.

But government doesn’t think that way. They think about income, not about reducing expenses.

That’s why there is virtually nothing that can’t be done quicker, better, and more cost effective by the private sector than the government. Ok, maybe except fight a war.


John Van Horn

John Van Horn

3 Responses

  1. OK, I take exception to the blanket accusation that government doesn’t have their priorities straight. You’re probably right when it comes to a lot of governmental agencies, but not all by any means. I represent one of those “government” agencies and Manchester as well as many other municipalities have taken great strides to increase efficiency. We’ve introduced online payments (we eat the processing fees because we’re not stupid and we know increased online payments mean less face-to-face time and ergo less expense), automated garage payments, multi-space meters, In Vehicle parking meters, on-street performance-based pricing strategies, etc. And, other cities in New Hampshire are implementing the same programs in increasing numbers.
    These programs HAVE reduced related expenses and (gasp!) we’re happy about it.
    Your comments imply that governmental agencies don’t have any common sense and are not learning the science of parking. Take a look at the vast increase in implementation and introduction of new technology and processes in the last 5 years. I would argue that municipalities are a VERY large driver of this change in our industry. Anyone that thinks this is driven entirely by private industry is missing the boat.

  2. JVH- Can you please make up your mind on you stance on surcharges? In the above post you blasted the surcharge as a tax, and unless there is new technology of taking cash over the phone that I am not aware of, I am pretty sure it would have to be a credit card. In the below post from june you state, and I qoute, that you …”also don’t agree that the city shouldn’t be able a surcharge”. Which is it??????????
    I don’t really understand the logic with this one. A couple of London boroughs are in the hot seat because they change a 1.3% surcharge for using a credit card to pay for your parking tickets. Read about it here. Of course, in usual “government agency judicial style” all tickets paid by credit card since the beginning of time will be reversed. Not just the surcharge, but the ENTIRE ticket, too.
    OK, I guess I can understand if they made the city return the surcharge, but hey, those folks broke the law. Do you mean that they should get away Scott free?
    I also don’t agree that they city shouldn’t apply a surcharge. I see no reason if people was the convenience of using a credit card, they should pay a “convenience fee” for so doing. The city has to pay the credit card company, don’t they.
    The kicker is the guy who started it all. Read down in the story. He paid five, countem FIVE parking tickets with his credit card. He’s obviously a scofflaw who isn’t playing by the rules. And they are going to give him all his fines back. That’s absurd.

  3. Of course they charge more! They have to add civil service employees to provide online customer service (multiple shifts), IT personnel to handle the computer hardware and software, and then there is the additional management layer that is required to supervise all this additional activity. And before you try to logically explain away these extraneous costs; explain to me why a locomotive crew included a “stoker or fireman” decades after diesel/electric power replaced steam.

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