The City of Melbourne has unfairly obtained $50 from me.
The money doesn’t belong to them, and they should give it back (plus about $45 in interest)
This is an issue (from many years ago – around June 2002) that has always bothered me, as its an example of how government bureaucracy can unfairly take (I’m tempted to use the word steal) from ordinary people.
At the time, I was working in La Trobe Street, Melbourne.
The company I was working for, needed me to work late one night (on a planned out-of-business-hours, IT upgrade).
The way it worked, was I would start work at 5 PM, and work on the upgrade until about 1AM (or later if needed).
I needed to drive in (as I’ll need to drive home again, as there are no train services when I finished work). So I got to the City at about 4PM, and spent a frustrating 45 minutes looking for a parking spot.
I eventually found one, but when I put a $2 coin in the slot, nothing happened. I tried again with another $2 coin, and still nothing happened. I Just needed the meter to last until 6pm (I think), after which parking meters are not monitored.
I tried a $1 coin, and that worked just fine.
Unfortunately, I only had one $1 coin (but a few more $2 coins)
Besides, I had already put in enough money to get me past the end of the metered time.
I took down the meter details (PM000698 ), and once in the office, I called the phone number on the meter.
I explained what happened, and a nice lady told me I shouldn’t worry. If I get a fine, it will be discarded once the faulty meter is repaired, and I was given a reference number (PINN 141615062).
I figured: thats ok. I spent the money anyway ($5)… I did the right thing,
So I duly got fined. I wrote to City of Melbourne, and quoted the reference number.
A few weeks later, I got a letter saying that there was no fault found with the meter, and I’ll need to pay the fine.
The fine print basically said: if you don’t pay the fine, you will be taken to court, and you might end up paying a lot more than just the fine.
At the time, I tried to get the meter mechanics report on the meter… But nobody bothered to send a reply email. I eventually had to start sending daily emails to email@example.com, asking for a copy of the engineers report (but never got a reply). About 2 week later, I get a maintenance schedule, which just shows that the meter (amongst many others) was serviced at a particular date, and no fault was found.
At this point, I feel I have no choice: Pay the fine, or risk paying an even bigger fine.
I pay the fine.
But I also email them, saying that they are effectively extorting the fine from me, so I will use whatever means I can to recover the fine. I also say that I cannot accept the meter mechanics records, as the meter was obviously faulty at the time, and I had already fed the meter with more than enough money to avoid having it expire within the allocated meter parking times.
Again no reply.
I say I will take the matter to the Victorian Ombudsman, but still no reply. I contacted the ombudsman, but I recall that there was very little that could be done…
I would love to organise a City of Melbourne “strike” or an act of civil disobediance… maybe something like: everyone who parks in Melbourne will refuse to put any money into the meters and will refuse to pay the fines.
I’m sure the council doesn’t have the resources to procecute thousands of people per day, and with the spotlight on their inefficient parking systems, they just might be forced to do the right thing and do a better (and fairer) job.
Ah, thats enough ranting for now… I think I’ll just go into a corner and fume for a few minutes… Grrr