Parking Ticket Geek

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Happy Holidays From Chicago Parking Meters!

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The Parking Ticket Geek

The Geek is an idiot, who gets a lot of parking tickets, and knows how to fight back.

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Just days away from a cross the board parking meter rate increase, Chicago Parking Meters, LLC has tried to placate motorists with a press release extolling many of the positive things their company has done in regards to Chicago's parking meter system.

While it is absolutely true, all the accomplishments or policy changes listed in the press release are positive and good for Chicago drivers, it kind of comes off as one of those overbearing holiday letters you get from your friends that gives you a blow-by-blow recap of their family's accomplishments for the past year.

Of course, you're going to hear about little Judy's straight A report cards, Jimmy's home run record and Dad's big promotion at work. But you're not going to hear about Mom's drinking problem, Jimmy's ADD issues, or Dad's run in with the cops after getting busted for DUI.

All kidding aside, here's the list of accomplishments the company is trumpeting.

Portable time: If you pay for X amount of time, you can use your receipt until the time expires within the same rate area or lower rate area. For example, if you pay at a meter that's $2 per hour, you can use it in that area or in an area where meters are only $1 per hour. But...you can't take that same receipt downtown where rates are currently $3.75 per hour.

Extended periods of stay: In some areas of the city (near theaters, concert halls, churches, schools, hospitals) where motorists might need more than a two-hour stay, pay box times have been extended to accommodate motorists patronizing these neighborhoods.

Automatic parking ticket dismissal: Some parking tickets, cross referenced with a database of malfunctioning parking meters are "withdrawn" or dismissed outright.

Discounted monthly parking in lots: CPM is testing a program that harkens back to before the lease agreement when drivers could purchase monthly passes at 11 citywide lots at discounted prices.

Pre-payment: Pay boxes are programmed to offer pre-payment.  Motorists parking at 24-hour meters can generally pre-pay until 10:00am (unless rush hour restrictions are in place).  At most other meters, motorists can pre-pay as early as 5:00am until 10:00am or later.

Donated bicycle meters: CPM left thousands of single-space meters intact around the city, for bicycle riders to use to lock their bikes.

24 x 7 customer service center: CPM offers round the clock customer phone service.

A lot of this stuff is old news. In some cases, these changes were not initiated by CPM, but accepted by CPM when city officials asked to make these policy changes.

In addition, there are at least two positive things CPM has changed that they should have bragged about.

The first is the company's new refund policy. A long time coming, but a great move.

The second is the efficiency of their maintenance crews. These machines, under normal circumstances, are never down or broken for any significant time periods. The technology behind these new pay boxes are so robust, that when something is wrong, the machine will alert the company of the problem and a maintenance worker is dispatched to fix the machine.

One time, I came across a pay box that had run out of receipt paper. Upon returning 90 minutes later, the problem had been fixed. Very impressive.

However, despite all these solid positive steps, there are still a few improvements we'd like to see.

ParkMagic In-Car Meter: This brilliant piece of technology allows drivers to remotely add time to their meters via their cell phones. It's like I-Pass for parking. What's the holdup? Why the delay? By fully embracing this technology, motorists will be happy to pay the new, increased rates. Let's GO!

Pre-Paid Gift Cards/Debit Cards: CPM really missed the boat this holiday season by not having pre-paid gift cards to so sell to Chicagoans. A great stocking stuffer. And why not give discounts for people who want to buy pre-paid debit cards? C'mon!

Lower Rates: Do you really need to increase rates in all areas of the city? While many people are starting to accept the last meter rate increase and are parking at meters again, there are still some areas of the city where the boycott is still on. Look, would you like to get 25 cents or 50 cents an hour or zero cents per hour? It's simple economics.

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