Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Houston's no-armed bandits

I got a parking ticket today. I earned it. Of course it was maddening that the ticket was issued less than 5 minutes before I returned to my car from the courthouse. But, then again, there have been plenty of times that I overran my time and didn't get a ticket so I guess I end up ahead in the end.

However, the no-armed bandits the City of Houston installed on downtown streets are notorious for not printing out time slips after someone feeds the meter. Standard practice has always been to put a note on your dash stating the time you parked and how much you paid and the fact that no slip was printed.

Today I saw a car whose owner had done just that. In fact, there was another car a couple of spaces over that had a similar note on its dash. For whatever reason, the meter maid (I have no idea what they're called these days) felt the need to ticket one of the cars and not the other. Now, in order to beat that ticket, the driver is going to have to subpoena maintenance and payment records for that particular machine and hope that the hearing officer will actually read the records and listen to his argument.

The city used to have parking meters all over downtown. They worked great. You could come back and feed them as necessary and -- if you were really lucky -- you might pull up to a meter that had time left on it. A few years ago the city installed new machines that print out time slips to show how long you could park your car downtown. Because the slips list the time your privilege expires, you can't go back and feed the meter as you go. And you can't take advantage of someone else's generosity and take their space before the meter expires.

Just another way of nickeling and diming the citizenry.

1 comment:

Cynthia said...

I didn't know about the "note" deal. When it happened to me - I paid but got no ticket - I just moved my car & paid again. I'll bet they make loads of $ off this kind of crap!