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Thursday, February 27, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Texas woman’s erroneous Spokane parking charge reveals processing error affecting hundreds

UPDATED: Fri., Jan. 24, 2020

A downtown parking meter, photographed on Jan. 2, includes the option to pay by credit card. A glitch led to more than 400 credit card transactions failing to process on Sept. 24, and they were charged nearly four months later. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
A downtown parking meter, photographed on Jan. 2, includes the option to pay by credit card. A glitch led to more than 400 credit card transactions failing to process on Sept. 24, and they were charged nearly four months later. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Sitting at her home in Texas, Ameenah Andersen spotted a peculiar transaction posted to her bank account.

On Jan. 9, she was charged for parking in downtown Spokane. But Andersen wasn’t in Spokane, or even Washington, on that day. She was more than 1,000 miles away.

Andersen later learned the parking charges were just a handful of the more than 400 credit card transactions that failed to process on Sept. 24, but were charged nearly four months later.

The city confirmed the error this week. Since learning of the glitch, the city has worked with Civic Smart, the company it contracts with to handle credit card parking payments, and its credit card payment processor to prevent the same mistake from occurring in the future.

“The staff at the City caught the error in early October and worked diligently with merchant partners to resolve the issue. Unfortunately, these charges were not charged until January 8, 2020, and have caused some confusion because of the significant delay in time of the transactions being processed,” city spokeswoman Kirstin Davis wrote in an email to The Spokesman-Review.

The source of the error appears to be related to several credit cards showing insufficient funds when they were processed by the city’s vendor.

“Once the problem was discovered and researched, it was confirmed that the charges were valid and payments had not been processed,” Davis said.

Although city officials expressed remorse for the four-month delay in processing, Davis said the city has an obligation to taxpayers to collect revenue it’s owed, including from on-street parking.

The error only impacted customers who paid by credit cards at the meter, not those who used the Passport mobile parking app. No customers were charged twice for parking, according to the city.

“The City has done extensive research and records reviews to confirm that none of the charges from September were duplicated in January,” Davis said.

Parking customers who believe they may have been affected by the processing error can call the city’s 311 customer service center for assistance if they desire further clarification, according to Davis.

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