put this under fucked up beyond all recognition
I have two outstanding parking tickets in NYC. One from August 2005, one from April 2006. My fault. I'll say that up front and take responsibility. Both tickets are for expired meters, which in NYC goes for $65 a pop. We won't mention the fact that both tickets, months apart, were from driving into the city to meet fellow bloggers coming in from out of town. ;)
We only have 10 days to pay the ticket, and if we don't, an additional $60 fee is added to the original $65. Which of course makes total sense -- I mean, if I can't pay the $65, surely I can fork out $125. So, I forgot about them. Ignored notices, ignored the judgment. I mean, it's not like it was a moving violation...it's just a parking ticket. And not even a ticket for a no parking zone, or handicapped zone. Just expired meters. And they won't boot/tow the car for two lousy parking tickets. Right?
Well Monday I received a letter from the city of NY. Seems I've ignored the notices until the original tickets, added fees, and interest totals $311.82. And they've discovered that I am a city employee (as a prof in the city university system, I am, in fact, employed by the city of NY), so my case has been turned over to the NYC Department of Finance's 'Operation CityScoff.' Yes, yours truly is now a scofflaw! *snort*
The letter threatened "judgments against [my] non-exempt personal property" if the amount isn't paid in seven days. Among the many directions on the back of the letter was this: "To establish a payment plan or inquire about an existing plan call..." I wasn't exactly worried, since I own nothing of value; but what about garnishing wages...would they do that?
So, I called the number. After being on hold for 25 minutes, someone with a rather pronounced accent finally picked up my call (I only mention the accent because it was difficult, over the phone, to understand him, which didn't help the following conversation--which is a shortened version of the actual conversation; there was a lot of 'what?' and 'could you repeat that please' going on).
NYC: How can I help you?
ME: I need to get a payment plan for a couple of parking tickets.
NYC: Your license plate number please?
NYC: I'm sorry, you are not eligible for a payment plan.
ME: But I have a case number. I received a letter. It says I can call to make a plan.
NYC: What is the case number?
NYC: Your total balance is only $312. It is not enough for a payment plan. You must owe at least $500 for a payment plan. You must pay the whole amount due.
ME: What if I can't pay the whole amount?
NYC: Then you can go online and pay for one ticket now, and the other one later.
ME: There is no web address on the letter anywhere, or any instructions to go online.
NYC: www.---------. You can pay each ticket there.
ME: But what if I can't pay for one whole ticket at once? That was the problem in the first place.
NYC: Then you can pay part of a ticket online.
ME: How is that different from a payment plan?
NYC: If you are on a payment plan, the city cannot tow your car.
ME: You mean, because I don't have a payment plan, the city can still have my car towed while I'm making payments?
NYC: The city can tow a car if the tickets, fees, and interest are $350 or more. If the interest on your tickets takes your total amount from $312 to $350, your car can be towed if it is in the city.
ME: And if it is towed, how much to I have to pay?
NYC: You would have to pay the amount you owe in full, plus the towing costs.
ME: And this makes sense to you? Because it doesn't make sense to me. Is there anyone else I can talk to about this?
NYC: No, that is the policy. There is no one else to talk to.
A word of caution -- if you owe between $350 and $500 to NYC for tickets, you are one seriously screwed dude.
So I am logging on to the city's website now to make a partial payment on each ticket. And while I fully admit that the tickets are my fault...well, this thing is still a money-making business -- a racket, if you will. Gotta love the city!
UPDATED TO ADD: I just paid $25.00 on each ticket to bring my balance down. And guess what? The city charges a $4.00 convenience fee for 'allowing' me to pay online. It also requires an email address.
And by the way...the city never sent anything that suggested there were limitations on a payment plan, or what the guidelines for towing a vehicle are. And the dude I spoke with, who told me to go pay online, never told me there'd be a fee, either.
pink floyd, money: