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Dear PoPville – Anyone Have Experience with Pay by Phone Parking Meters?

by Prince Of Petworth July 5, 2011 at 2:30 pm 22 Comments

“Dear PoPville,

I was wondering if anyone in PoPville has used the new pay by phone parking meters and can share whether the system works reliably or not? I have seen the DDoT press releases and some meters near my work with a green sign touting the ParkMobile smartphone app. But when I went to download the Android app, the reviews were mixed to bad, saying it was unreliable and people still got tickets.

At least the credit card multi-space meters give you a paper receipt. With ParkMobile, the fact that you’ve paid is supposed to be communicated to parking enforcement’s device, but it’s unclear to me how I would fight a ticket if there was a glitch or if the parking enforcement people claim I hadn’t paid. It would be really convenient to pay by phone, but I’m reluctant to create another online account linked to my credit card unless I know it’s going to work and be useful to me.”

Last we spoke about pay by phone parking options in Dupont there were mixed responses. Anyone use the system recently?

  • Clarissa

    Tried to use it on Saturday, with very frustrating results. It kept reading the 8 as an H, the 2 as a Q, the C as a G, etc. I ended up just pumping in dimes. Sometimes, the old fashioned route is the way to go…

  • Former Lawyer

    I used the iPhone app on Saturday. The mapping feature is glitchy, as is username/password retrieval. And the user interface isn’t particularly intuitive. Overall, the app kind of sucks.

    It did send me an email with the details of my payment so I guess I could have used that in case I got a ticket — which I didn’t. Of course, that could have been luck and not anything the program did for me.

  • Tim

    I’ve used ParkMobile (the one currently being rolled out citywide) on Android in another city. My only complaint is that it took a long time to register. You have to put in your whole address, email address, phone number and license plate, all on a smartphone (actually, you can register on a computer). But it seemed to have worked fine. You only have to register once, and after that, just enter the parking zone number and you’re good to go. It emailed me the receipt, so I would just show that to contest a ticket. Also, you need to tell the app when you leave, obviously.

    Two of the major things I like about it: one, you never pay too much to park because it only bills you for the time you want it to. Two, you never run out of money or have to feed the meter.

    • SSRS

      I’ve just began using ParkMobile this week, actually, and have already used it twice. The set up is a bit annoying, but honestly it didn’t take that long, and once its done, you never have to do it again.

      The second time around (when I used the app on my iphone), all I had to do was put in the zone number (a five digit number on the side of the meter) and the amount of time I needed to park. Definitely a fan so far.

  • Anonymous

    I just used it last week, and if worked flawlessly. I added the initial time by calling in with my phone, then downloaded the iPhone app to add a couple more hours later on.

  • Eli

    I used the iPhone app for the first time on Saturday. As another poster mentioned, the map feature doesn’t work very well (i.e., not at all for the area around 14th and S), and I wasted a few minutes trying to get it to work. But then I saw that the zone number was posted on the meter, and once I entered that in, everything else went smoothly, including a reminder when my time was about to expire. IMO, not having to fish around for change is worth the 35 cents or whatever it costs per transaction.

  • Eli

    Also, according to the Park Mobile’s FAQ, they will deal with the parking enforcement people if you get a ticket and send them a picture of it. Haven’t had to try it yet though…

  • MichelleRD

    I used it a year ago on Connecticut Avenue just north of Dupont Circle. It seemed easy enough and I got a confirmation email, but the meter kept flashing EXPIRED. Haven’t used it since.

  • anon

    I used it once and didn’t get a ticket. But the bad part of the app is that it freezes a lot. Not the most reliable…

  • JME

    DC can’t even handle simple, old-school ticket mishaps, such as a ticket with the wrong date or plate number, or when you get a ticket for an expired meter but it’s after hours for the meter… I wouldn’t trust anything new or more technological. The parking ticket situation is a racket, I’m convinced. Citizens have no recourse.

    • Idaho Ave

      I have always been confused as to what to do when they issue a ticket with my plate # wrong….can I just ignore those?

      • JME

        Well, it used to be an automatic dismissal of the ticket, but that is no longer the case it seems. I have written letters with proof of whatever the error might be, but most of the time my contesting is denied and I end up paying the $25 to avoid late fees, etc, as I don’t have time to take a day off to fight it in person. This is what I feel makes it a racket. It’s not right.

        • Veronika

          I’ve gotten several “tickets” without actually receiving the hard ticket. I have no way of contesting, as I have no proof I never received the pink slip. It’s infuriating.

  • pia

    I tried to use one on Friday in Georgetown. The fact you have to register in a long, drawn out process (while you’re standing in front of the meter, sure at home it would take 2 minutes) is annoying and made me acutally just end up feeding the few quarters I had and hope for the best. The smart way to do it would have been that you text the spot/meter number to a designated number and it would charge your phone bill.

  • JJ

    Just used it with an android app today a couple of times – easy. I only used it for 15 – 30 minutes, and I didn’t get a ticket.

  • Ashhole

    So my wife and I used park mobile over the weekend. The app was fine when used entering the zone. We used it on one of the meters that has a kiosk and you place the ticket on your dash. We had reservations knowing our previous run-ins with parking enforcement.

    Sure enough as we were walking back to our car we passed the PE officer and there was a ticket on the car. I grabbed it and ran back with my phone. She was on a personal call walking down the block and giving tickets. I approached her and said excuse me. Showed her my phone and the ticket, explaining the situation. She never removed the phone from her ear and replied, “Fight the Ticket” At which point I became infuriated and reiterated the situation. Still never removing the phone from her ear, she repeated, “Fight the ticket.”

    I seriously loathe DC Parking Enforcement with all of my being.

    • Eli

      I think I was once told that the ticket writers are powerless to void a ticket after the information has been submitted–you have to go through the proper channels. Or maybe I saw that on Parking Wars…but it makes sense.

      • Veronika

        once they write it up, it’s a wrap

    • JME

      Infuriating. I have had similar experiences many times now. I’ve written to the mayors office – Fenty and Gray, as this seems like an easy fix, but have never received any meaningful response, just form emails saying they are “taking my concern very seriously, and forwarding to the appropriate departments”.

      • Kristin

        I also had a similar experience. I paid by phone and still received a ticket. I immediately called the number on the ticket and spoke to a representative who said that they could see that ticket was issued incorrectly, and that they would take care of it. 30 days later I received a second ticket, because shocker, the person on the phone never did anything and the payment was now late.

        I contested both tickets, even sent proof of payment for the meter and included the name of the person I spoke to, and still lost. This was back in December, but I still get incredibly angry when thinking about it. I feel your pain Ashhole.

  • WarderSt

    I have used one system or another over the course of the last year and they seem to work fine for me. No tickets and no difficulties. Have not tried the latest system with the iPhone app, but I am sure I will have the opportunity to in not too long.

  • Park Road

    Kristen–you have me scared. I got a ticket by the Rhode Island Avenue YMCA after my third time using Parkmobile. I did exactly as you did–I emailed a picture of the ticket to the P/M helpdesk ELEVEN DAYS AGO. I got a standard bounceback message stating that they had a backlog and would get to me soon. Are you now telling me if I take matters into my own hands and appeal the ticket using the e-mail receipt P/M sent me that I still may lose? That really sucks.


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