you *can* fight city hall

A couple of weeks back, my sister-in-law received a final notice for a parking ticket in Stanley Street, outside our house. We’ve been borrowing that particular car, but had left it in their name, and it’s been parked outside our place, so obviously we had incurred it. We never found a ticket on the windscreen, which is why it had come to the final notice (presumably the first notice is the parking ticket, and the second notice is the final one?); probably some passer-by pulled it off. The thing was, we’ve had a parking permit on it the whole time, which allows us to park it there at any time for as long as we like, so the ticket should never have been issued in the first place.

So I thought it would be a simple matter to get it revoked. I immediately rang the council and told them what had happened; obviously the inspector had missed the permit. I was told that it couldn’t be dealt with over the phone, so I had to write a letter, including a photocopy of the permit. It was a bit of a hassle, and they made it as difficult as possible on the phone; presumably they hope that people will just pay it anyway, but I wrote the letter that day and sent it off.

Today I got a letter back, finally, saying that they would not revoke the fine. I was gobsmacked. It’s an open and shut case; I have a permit. The letter said basically that with the permit I have, I couldn’t park in that place for more time than the signs indicated. I couldn’t believe it – what’s the point of having a permit if it doesn’t entitle you to park there?

So I rang the council and asked to speak to the guy that wrote the letter. I was told he was away from his desk, but the woman asked if she could help. She gave me the runaround, asking me to explain the story and then asking me to repeat various parts of it over and over. She finally announced that no, I’d have to pay the fine because I’d already had my plea rejected in writing. Finally I convinced her to put me through to the guy who wrote the letter.

I explained the story to him (he was infinitely more helpful) and we eventually sorted out the problem. My permit had the letters B (for Brunswick) STE on it. He said the STE meant it had been issued for Stewart Street, which is our address, not Stanley Street where the car was parked (we live on the corner of the two), and the permit had therefore not been relevant. I said there was no point in my getting a permit for Stewart Street, as there are no restrictions there. He agreed there was no point. We therefore established that it was the fault of the council worker who had mistakenly issued us with a parking permit for Stewart Street instead of the Stanley St one for which we had applied. He said he’d check into it, find our application and confirm where it referred to. If we had applied for one in Stanley Street, he assured me, the fine would be withdrawn. He rang back 10 minutes later to confirm that we had indeed applied for a Stanley Street permit, and would be forwarded the correct one in the next few days. WOO HOO!

It had never occurred to me when the permit arrived originally that the BSTE(+numbers) on the permit was anything but a random permit code. Still, I now have to write another letter detailing all of this to the council, so that they have a paper trail to follow to officially withdraw the fine on their books. Terrific.

So all of this angst and hassle and frustration has been caused by one council worker writing an E instead of an A on the permit. Seriously, one letter, one VOWEL has caused me to make numerous phone calls, write two letters, and use copious amount of adrenalin.

The great thing is that after 5 parking tickets (three of which I’ve contested), this is the first one I’ve actually won. Granted, it’s not a fantastic record (Councils:4, Me:1) but I finally feel like I might be able to claw my way back to level pegging, and eventually maybe even eliminate parking fines altogether. Or I could just avoid getting them in the first place I suppose…

So you can fight city hall. But only if you’re persistent.

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2 thoughts on “you *can* fight city hall

  1. Not sure if you were quoting Clueless but it was eerily reminiscent:

    MEL: Cher, get in here!
    CHER: Yes, Daddy?
    MEL: Would you tell me what the hell this is?
    CHER: Um, a second notice for three outstanding tickets. I don’t remember getting a first notice.
    MEL: The ticket is the first notice. I didn’t even know you could get tickets without a licence.
    CHER: Oh, sure you can. You can get tickets anytime.

  2. haha…awesome. I knew I was channelling someone…although I didn’t expect it to be a teenage girl. actually, I knew it was familiar, but couldn’t place it. leave it to you to know what I was thinking.

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