I often sing your praises, Charlottetown Airport, when talking to people from big cities: you’re so small, and handy, and friendly. It’s so nice to leave my house at 5:30 for a 6:15 flight, and have time to spare. Your staff are helpful, your waiting room pleasant, your service quick.
Which is why I feel so bad that you lied to me today.
This afternoon I dropped off some family flying back to Toronto. I wanted to give them all a hug, so I parked in the short-term parking lot.
Once they were all through security, I headed back to my car and, like every other time I’d done exactly the same thing in recent years, I made sure I had a dollar coin ready to put in the machine at the exit.
I made sure to drive up to the “Pay By Coins” exit — there was a big sign. I slid my ticket into the machine, and it beeped at me. But it didn’t tell me to insert my dollar. I did it again. Beep. Again. Beep. I carefully read over the instructions, instructions that indicated that I was in the proper line to pay by coin.
Finally, in desperation, I rang the buzzer for help. I explained my situation to the person whose voice suddenly rang through the speaker. They asked me if I’d paid for my ticket inside. I explained that I hadn’t and that I was in the line where I could pay by coin.
They claimed that I couldn’t pay by coin. I explained that there was a sign 3 feet from my head that provided a detailed explanation of how I could pay by coin.
They said that wasn’t true any more. I asked why there was a sign that said that it was true. They said I couldn’t pay by coin. They told me that there was a sign at the entrance that clearly explained that I had to pay inside; I explained that every other time I’d parked in the lot, going many years back, I’d paid by coin.
I asked what I should do. They told me to back up. I told them there was a car behind me. They told me that they would open the gate and that I should drive through, go back into the parking lot, get another ticket, get out of my car, go into the terminal, pay for my parking inside, get back into my car, drive around to the exit again, and insert my ticket into the machine.
Can you see anything wrong with this situation? If, in fact, it is no longer possible to pay by coin, you should change your signs. An additional “remember, you can’t pay by coin any longer” sign wouldn’t hurt too. Second, you should instruct your staff that if customers are the victims of your incorrect signage, they should offer apologies, open the gate, and let them go on their way.
As it was, you kept me at the airport for an extra ten minutes, frustrated me, and caused me to think ill of you when I’d done nothing but sing your praises for many years. Was that worth the 50 cents you got for my troubles?