More than 2K Chicago parking meter tickets issued in error since 2017

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Parking in the city of Chicago can get expensive, especially if you're hit with a parking meter ticket. But the ABC7 I-Team has learned that some of those violations were issued in error.

A man called the ABC7 I-Team and said he still had time on his parking meter, but when he returned to his car, he discovered an orange ticket. After doing some digging, the I-Team discovered he wasn't alone.

Marla Vannucci says she was parked near State and Lake streets back in October and paid for about four hours on the Park Chicago App.

"I looked back at the app, it was still going, it still said I had parking," Vannucci said. "And so when I got back on the street, I was very upset to find I had a ticket. I sort of felt scammed because I couldn't figure out how they didn't know I had paid."

Another viewer said this happened to him too. He sent a screenshot form the Park Chicago App. On November 14, he paid from 2:37 p.m. to 4:09 p.m., but was ticketed at 3:17 p.m., nearly an hour before his meter expired.

The ABC7 I-Team brought these concerns to the City of Chicago and learned these were not isolated incidents. Data shows that from January 2017 to November 2019, the city racked up 2,410 meter ticket errors.

Drivers downtown who were shown the findings were not happy.

"That's awful," said Megan Bustamante. "Somebody's not doing their job right.

"And then they add on top of that all the fines for not responding and everything so those parking tickets can really multiply to hundreds of dollars," said Chris Langone.

"I've actually been a victim myself so, I really don't know what they can do to prevent that," said Charlie Peacock.

The city told the ABC7 I-Team 7 that ticket meter errors can occur for a variety of reasons, such as technological glitches and ticketing agent errors.

The city says errors can also occur when a motorist enters a license plate number or selects the wrong vehicle on their app.

Of the 2,410 ticket meter errors, the I-Team asked the city how many of those were driver mistakes, but they wouldn't give us that breakdown.

Since 2017, the city says it's issued about 1.4 million meter tickets and the errors I-Team uncovered only make up .17 percent of those tickets.

The city tells the I-Team ticket meter errors are extremely rare. But the consumers ABC7 spoke with say the number we uncovered is still unacceptable.

"There need to be a better process in place so that it doesn't happen anymore," Bustamante said.

The two consumers the I-Team spoke with that identified the mistakes said they did contest their tickets and the city dismissed their citations.

"It took weeks though," Vannucci said. "It makes me angry. I certainly want to contribute to funding the city and if there are things I need to pay, my taxes, but I feel taken advantage of in a situation like this."

One of the errors in question happened on November 14 of last year. The city says tickets were issued during a pay station system outage that impacted pay by cell transactions. The city says all parking tickets issued during the outage were dismissed.

The city said it wants to assure customers that they have a process in place to contest any ticket they feel was wrongly issued.

The city says motorists can call (312)744-PARK to connect directly with city staff who will take steps toward resolving the issue or submit their claims online or by mail.
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