Sunday, April 06, 2008

Parking Wars

The inability of people to follow directions never fails to amaze me and this weekend's Hartford Courant highlighted an example I'm quite familiar with. The piece, by consumer watchdog George Gombossy, tells of the trials and tribulations of an East Hampton resident who struggled to resolve a Hartford parking ticket issued to the resident's old license plate which had been stolen.

It's a sob story, but one that could have been avoided if the man had just followed directions. Working as a parking citation hearing officer, I'm quite familiar with how the process works. What we have to work with is the information provided to us by the DMV- if the information we have from the DMV says such and such plate is registered in your name, then you're going to need the appropriate paperwork to clear things up if there's misunderstanding.

The gentleman in the story never actually provided the appropriate body with the appropriate paperwork, so hence his problem. Rather than contacting the Hartford Parking Authority, which issues the tickets, or the Citation Hearing Office, which has the authority to dismiss the ticket, he spent time calling the Hartford police, the East Hampton police, and the Attorney General's office. When he actually called the Citation Hearing Office, he heard a recorded message to mail a copy of the police report of his stolen plate to the office- rather than following those instructions, he sent a fax to a different number.

When a delinquent parking notice is sent in the mail, the appropriate phone number is on that notice- calling that number will give you the information you need. Resolving a parking ticket issued to your stolen license plate is as simple as calling the number,listening to instructions, making a copy of the appropriate paperwork, and putting it in the mail.

The thing is, I know it sucks. Dealing with any bureaucracy sucks. It's no fun and it can take time- but what other solutions are there when it comes to parking tickets on busy city streets, other than not regulating parking in the first place (and just give that a few days to see what a disaster that would be)? Getting the appropriate paperwork to the appropriate people seems reasonable. Generally things tend to work smoothly, but when the appropriate instructions aren't followed, you just make things more difficult for yourself.


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