This is one of the strangest cases I’ve seen in a while. I reviewed the correspondence between you, Econo Lodge and the city of Aurora, and as far as I can tell, you didn’t park in an actual parking spot.
You asked a hotel employee where you could park, and were referred to a curb designated as a fire lane. Only, it wasn’t clearly marked as a fire lane, according to you. So when you received a ticket, both you and the employee were surprised and, again, based on your account, so was the manager on duty.
To be clear, it’s your responsibility to park your car in a legal spot. But you also relied on the word of a hotel employee, who should have known (and if he didn’t, he had no business referring you to the parking spot you used). If the manager had told you, “Tough luck,” this would be the end of the story. Technically, he’d be right, and you would need to pay up.
But that’s not what happened. The manager took your ticket and – again, according to your account – promised to pay it.
Fixing this ticket might have been a little easier if you’d sent the notice from the city of Aurora directly to Choice Hotels by email, instead of trying to resolve this by phone. Remember, calls don’t leave a paper trail. I’d like to think a brief, polite email to Choice would have cleared this up, but I’m not sure. I don’t see any indication that the silent treatment would have ended, and that left you with a ticket to pay.
I contacted Choice Hotels on your behalf. It cut you a check for $150.