OPINION: From the start, I feel it's important to note that I know I deserve to face some consequences for my actions.
Running late for my football game a fortnight ago, I took the risk of parking in a Wilson carpark in central Auckland and ran straight onto the pitch without paying the $2 I owed for the hour I'd be using it.
It was stupid. There was ample signage and I knew there was a reasonable chance I'd be stung.
So, when I returned to my car post-game to find that dreaded slip of waxy paper coiled around my windscreen wiper, I accepted it was deserved. I'd half been expecting it.
What I hadn't been expecting, though, was to unravel the ticket and discover I'd been charged $65. Yep, $65 for spending less than an hour in a $2/hour park - a fee that would rise to $85 if I failed to pay within 22 days.
It doesn't take a genius to notice there's a huge disparity between those two numbers.
For $65 I could've parked there for 32 hours straight - and still would've had a dollar leftover.
If I'd taken the option to pay $10 for 12 hours' parking, I could've kept my car there for three days for less than I paid for the 55 minutes my car spent there.
Now, I understand it's not like I just overstayed in the park, like so many others targeted by parking wardens, and I know these companies have to enforce their terms and conditions. They're profit-driven businesses after all, and need to deter people like me from using their parks without paying.
But a $65 fee? That seems excessive and greedy - vulture-like, even.
Especially for Wilson, a company who posted a profit of $16.7 million last year and still had the gall to take $3.1 million in COVID-19 subsidies from the New Zealand Government.
A company that forced the Commerce Commission into action after buying hundreds of car parks in Wellington CBD without clearance - "substantially lessening competition" in the process - then lifting the fees for parking in them.
Responding to Newshub's request for comment, a Wilson spokesperson said the breach notice fee of $65 "covers the high costs of enforcing the car park's terms and conditions".
They say recovering the lost fee is just a small part of an enforcement process that is completely unrelated to the cost of parking there.
But what are the other costs involved in enforcement? The cost of printing the ticket? The cost of the warden's wages for the few minutes they spend filling in my car's details?
Wilson wouldn't clarify further when I asked what makes up these supposedly high costs.
'It's difficult to dig into Wilson's finances'
According to the Contract and Commercial Law Act 2017, private parking companies are only allowed to charge me for the actual and reasonable costs they incurred.
But Jon Duffy, chief executive of consumer watchdog Consumer NZ, said private parking companies like Wilson keep their finances close to their chests, so it's hard to say whether their costs are reasonable.
"It's very, very difficult for a consumer to dig into the finances of Wilson Parking to say that all of the rigmarole that goes into enforcing the penalty against errant parkers doesn't necessarily cost them $65 or close to it," he told Newshub.
"You'd need to show that that the amount was so disproportionate to the overheads required to administer the system that it's unfair - and it would be very difficult to do that."
Even still, Duffy says Consumer NZ regularly receives complaints from people about exorbitant parking fees - many of whom go on to successfully fight their breach notice fee.
"It really annoys people - and the key point that annoys people is that the penalty is disproportionate to the crime, if you want to put it in those terms.
"We have seen people take these cases to the Disputes Tribunal and win… parking companies should be very aware that extortionate penalties can be challenged, and have been successfully challenged in the past."
In saying that, he says someone who simply overstayed in a park would likely have a better chance of having their fee waived than someone like me, who just failed to pay from the start.
For now, I've lodged my appeal - along with $7 to cover the missed parking fee and administrative costs - and await Wilson's response.
I just wish they could've spared me the rigmarole by being fair to begin with.