DOWNTOWN ATLANTA, Ga. - Nobody likes a parking ticket. And certainly no one likes a citation they think was wrongfully issued. Three people in just more than two weeks told us they paid for metered parking in Atlanta but got ticketed for an expired meter despite having time left. And they all tell the Fox 5 I-Team, they had trouble disputing the tickets. One man says, he tried everything to clear up his case, but instead ended up with collections notices.
Listen, parking in the city is tight. And when you find a spot, you pay for the privilege. But Eric Stewart has soured on metered parking. He was ticketed for an expired meter even though his receipts show time remaining, and he's had a heck of a time disputing it.
"I don't trust it," he told the Fox 5 I-Team.
ATL Plus is the parking management company the city of Atlanta uses. You can pay at the street side meter or you can use an app. But recently, the Fox 5 I-Team has heard from viewers, like Eric, who say their meter time was moving faster than the clock.
Eric Stewart's March 29-th parking receipt shows he paid at 10:01 a.m. It expired exactly one hour later. He says his wife stayed in the parked car. She even saw the parking officer walk by. But did she see the car get ticketed?
"No," Eric says.
We asked the city for a copy of his ticket. They never produced one. Eric claims he first learned about the parking ticket when he got a fine in the mail. It said "uncontested and "past due" and that doubled his fine to $70.
But let's look at the clock. ATL Plus ticketed him at 10:21 a.m.
Eric showed us his receipt, "Still had 40 minutes."
Another viewer emailed us, "....my parking receipt on the window was good through 12:40 p.m. and the ticket was issued at 11:11 a.m."
Around the same time our Fox 5 I-Team producer was ticketed. Same story: a parking ticket even though her receipt shows she had more than an hour left on the clock.
All three say they tried to dispute their ticket but ran into lots of confusion about how to do it.
"When I went to actually contest it on the website, there was a link where I couldn't do anything," Eric said, still visibly frustrated.
All said they tried to download a dispute form on the city's website. The Fox 5 I-Team tried it, too. They were right; it didn't work. Eric Stewart emailed the city and found another door closed. Because he received a past due notice, he couldn't dispute it this way either.
So, he drove downtown to the ATL Plus kiosk in the Municipal Court building.
"When I took the ticket in to the lady and explained to her the situation she told me, 'There is nothing I can do, but since you're already at the courthouse just go around the corner and file for a court date' and that's what I did."
But waiting in the mail was a collection notice demanding now $95.
"And being threatened to put on my credit. I'm trying to buy a house."
No one who was issued a ticket was clear how they were supposed to dispute it. Atlanta Public Works oversees ATL Plus. We asked both repeatedly why drivers with time left on the clock were being ticketed. That question never got answered. But they did help us to clarify how to dispute a ticket. We learned that you do not - that's right do not - use the city's website to start the process. You have to first use the link on the back of the ticket.
The link is www.atlplusmobility.com. The ATL Plus site says to contest a citation, you start at ENFORCEMENT INVESTIGATION.
This is supposed to expedite citations issued in error. If ATL Plus upholds the ticket, well then you have 14 days from the day the ticket was issued to file an appeal here at this tab - ATLANTA MUNICIPAL COURT DISPUTE.
Now this takes you over to the city's website, but it has had glitches. The folks who were ticketed told us the link to dispute online didn't work. The Fox 5 I-Team told the city about the problem and now it's marked with "Coming soon." It's down, we're told, because of a cyber attack. We also alerted them that the form to email wasn't there either. But it's back now.
Good news: We told Eric Stewart the city says his ticket was tossed out August 21-st. He hadn't got the word yet, so he's steering clear of metered parking for a while.
"Until they get this rectified, I'm not going to use it."
Our producer's ticket was dismissed quickly because she ultimately used the link on the back of her ticket and it worked. But, it took her a minute to figure out how to make it work. The other viewer says his, as far as he can tell, his is still in the dispute process.