Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Trouble with Pay-Station and Pay-by-Phone Parking

As soon as DPW started pulling up the old parking meters and replacing them with "pay stations" that require the driver to walk up the block to buy time, I started worrying if people could get ticketed in the time it took them to return to their cars with the paid receipt. But it never occurred to me that this could happen, even with an individual meter, if you step 20 feet away to get out of the rain while you make a "pay-by-phone" cell phone call.  Here's the story from a very unhappy poster on the Chevy Chase Community Listserv.
I was at Dupont and was running late for an appointment. I was calling in my minutes on the parking meter, I was doing this from inside my car. I ended up hitting a wrong button on my phone and realized I was being transferred to a biggie. As I said, I was running late, so I got out and went to stand by the building entrance because it was raining. No sooner did I reach the building and turn around did I see a ticket writer.
I tried repeatedly to call out to'am, ms, ms, as I'm making my way back to her (this was approx 20 feet). In that time she did not acknowledge me at all (mind, I'm still on the phone with the meter people). I finally reach the ticket writer and see why she didn't hear me: She had earphones on and was listening to her music obviously loud enough to not hear me approaching her yelling, "ma'am, ms". So, I reach her, tap her shoulder and tell her that I am
currently calling in the time. By this time the lady on the phone is with me. The ticket lady says she can't stop because she has already put the info in and I should not have left the side of my car. But it is raining, I said. A gentleman even stopped and saw the gross injustice here and looked at what she had put into her little machine and said 'you can wipe this out'. She was pretty rude and pulled her name tag up towards my face so I could get a better view.
I went ahead and paid for 90 minutes. [The poster ended with a long paragraph wondering whether it would be worthwhile to contest the $25 ticket, and concluded that she probably would just pay it.]

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