The 62-year-old Sarnia man and recent retiree was travelling through Thailand and Vietnam last February while the keys to his 2010 Ford were with the Park’N Fly valet service in Toronto.
When he returned, the valet brought the truck back, and then Charbonneau got in and drove home.
Eight months later, Charbonneau decided on a whim to check his driving history, he said.
For at least four or five years, Charbonneau has been tracking his driving telemetrically using en-route with The Co-Operators. A device installed in his vehicle tracks his driving behaviour and, depending on how he does, he’s eligible for a discount on his auto insurance.
“I rarely look at it to check it,” he said.
Part of the calculation involves tallying up heavy braking and acceleration “events,” enroute.cooperators.ca says, noting how far, when and where you drive are also factors.
Charbonneau, describing his driving as “relaxed,” as well as “safe and conscientious,” said he averages maybe one or two heavy braking or acceleration events per month.
There were, however, 46 heavy braking and acceleration events logged from Feb. 1 to Feb. 18 when Charbonneau wasn’t behind the wheel.
“I thought ‘Holy crap. What happened?’” Charbonneau said when he saw those figures.
His log, including maps, showed most of those events – 34 – happened while he was waiting for the truck to be brought out from the lot at the airport.
It also shows the truck travelled about five kilometres to the nearby Woodbine Racetrack late on Feb. 1 and was brought back to the airport lot Feb. 18.
“I didn’t realize they were going to be shuffling vehicles around like that,” Charbonneau said, “so customers beware.”
Charbonneau said he’s contacted his insurance but hadn’t been told yet whether the poor driving – at least by his standards – would impact his discount.
The short answer is no, said Michelle Robichaud, corporate communications with The Co-Operators.
“He just needs to connect with us and we can correct those events and take them off of his history,” she told The Observer.
Sudden abrupt changes in driving behaviour could theoretically impact discounts, she said.
“But we would have that conversation with the driver and, if it’s an anomaly in his history, then again, he’s not going to be penalized for that.”
Charbonneau recently wrote a letter to Park’N Fly Toronto complaining about what happened and vowing to no longer use its services.
He’d previously used the company’s self-park service without incident before deciding to give the valet service a shot, he said.
“I’m expecting a little bit of an upgrade in service with valet,” he said. “Sometimes you just have to do it yourself.”
An investigation is underway, Park’N Fly officials told him in an email in response to his letter.
Company vice-president Frank DeCesare declined comment because of that investigation when asked if it was normal company practice to move vehicles to Woodbine.
It’s likely the company has a lot at or near Woodbine where it moves vehicles at times, said Steve Kee, director of media relations with the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
“And you’ve handed over your keys and they’re going to park the thing, you have the faith in the company to do that,” he said.
The circumstance here – of the truck’s movements being caught via the telemetric program – is something he hasn’t seen before, he said.
Programs in Ontario offer discounts for good driving but won’t charge above the normal rate for bad driving, he said.
“I think what (he) needs to likely do is have a pretty frank conversation with both the parking operating and their insurance company to explain some specifics,” he said.
There are potential charges to moving a vehicle without the owner’s consent if a company entrusted with said vehicle takes it for a joyride or to run errands, said Sarnia police Const. Giovanni Sottosanti.
“They have permission to oversee it, but their permission is just to keep it on the lot and keep it safe,” he said, noting there could be contractual exceptions.
“That would be the only reason I would see they would move it – because they have a secondary lot,” he said.