In the words of the late, great, Irving Snyder, WA1ETG SK, I have a “tale of woe.” As always, as an employee of the fantastic Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the opinions of this website are my own and not the view of my employer or anyone else.
Late in August, I was in a rush on a Wednesday and couldn’t change my five dollar bill for ones to pay for parking. With the MBTA, they have something called an “honor box” in which you pay your $4 parking fee into a small slot numbered with your space. “No worries…” I said to myself, “…since I am in a rush, I will eat the late fee and just pay them when I get a violation notice.” A brilliant plan, correct? It was, I’ve done it before. Also, since I knew I was likely going to face the same problem on Friday I was just going to pay $10 with the Friday violation notice. This plan crashed to earth when I got the Friday violation notice:
Can you spot the key difference between these two notices? According to the 8/21 notice, I have 8 outstanding violations. This is impressive, as with every violation notice previous to this, including the 8/19 notice, hasn’t included a peep about any kind of outstanding violations. So, I place an e-mail to LAZ Parking, as they suggested on their voice mail greeting, to ask them how the heck this happened. They politely provided me a spreadsheet showing that I hadn’t paid my violations numerous times since they took over.
Slight problem: I did pay them.
I’m no angel. According to the spreadsheet I had 16 violations since December 1st. However, I have been extremely thorough in paying my violations since the parking fee increase, specifically because I knew that $5/pop could add up quick. While I cannot specifically say “Oh, hey, I paid that violation on June 23rd.” (Because really, who remembers that?) There were two violations that I was sure I had paid. Also, apparently, I did possibly owe them $2.75 from a violation in December. I won’t even attempt to remember that.
So, I ask them how I can contest it? Well, simple, I just tell them which spot I parked in during those dates and they can check.
Slight problem: There is not assigned parking at the MBTA.
With the MBTA commuter rail, each spot is numbered and that’s the number you pay for. However, it’s first come first serve. Most days I usually get a spot in the between 50 and 100. But really, I now have to keep track of which spot I park in on a daily basis just in case LAZ says I didn’t pay? What? I explained this to the CSR and after following up a week later asking them if there was any movement on this she reiterated she needed the numbers.
This brings us to today.
I give up.
That’s it MBTA, you win. You’ve created a system where you can tell people they owe money and they have little to no recourse. You have a cash system, someone can have no proof they paid on random dates and in order to contest it, you make them jump through nearly impossible hoops. I give up. I am bending over and taking it.
So, now, in order to cover my ass:
- I will be paying my outstanding fee with a check, probably hand delivered, and I will get a receipt.
- Further violations will be paid with via a check, as suggested by LAZ, and I will be keeping the canceled checks on record.
- After I get the canceled check, I will be following up with LAZ to make sure they credited it to my account.
Plus, just to add insult into injury halfway through the back and forth with LAZ, I get this on my windshield:
A $15 ticket because I was parking in the lot with an “outstanding balance”