Sunday, June 21, 2009

Seattle Parking Fraud Game

In 1999, it was revealed that Seattle's mechanical parking meters often didn't give you the time you paid for. The city ticketed you, profiting from breaking its contract for a parking space during a defined time.

Last week, it was revealed that Seattle's new parking meters sells you parking rights that don't exist. You park in spot X, pay to stay there 3 hours and get a sticker to put on your window. When you come back, your car has been ticketed and towed, because somewhere on the block is a sign saying you can't park there after 5. The city deliberately sells you something it can't deliver on, and excuses itself by saying you should read all the signs on the block before buying the space.

Now we have learned that that Seattle's computerized parking meters also sells you space that you can't use without physically moving your car. Let's say you buy 2 hours at 1 pm. At 3, you come back and buy another 2 hours (3 - 5 pm). You come back and see a ticket on your window. Nothing on the meter told you that you have to move your car before buying more time for that space! The city just tickets you, and profits from breaking its contract for a parking space.

Seattle has a history of breaking its own laws on parking meters; it's not exactly new to the topic. And when it comes to putting a parking meter in front of your home or business, you have no rights in the city of Seattle.

If Seattle sells you a parking space, it must honor the contract. If it does not want to sell you that space, fine, don't sell it; program the kiosks (which are run from a central computer BTW, so reprogramming is not a big problem) to say "Hey, that space is not available after 5pm so I'm not going to sell you 3 hours of time at 4pm". And print ON THE STICKER something like "This space cannot be renewed; you must move your car on expiry". That would give the buyer actual notice of what was being purchased.

The principle is simple: When you sell something to somebody with the intent of not delivering, it is fraud.

Someone should call the police.

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