After being wait listed more than seven years for a West Windsor parking permit, my husband and I have held a coveted parking permit for seven years. Our record for quarterly payments is impeccable.
This all came to an end on Monday, August 16, when my husband came home with a $60 permit parking complaint and summons.
Upon investigating the situation, we realized we did not receive a bill in the mail as we have for the past seven years. When we called the Parking Authority, they said mail invoices were not sent this quarter because the policy was changed to an e-mail notification system. When asked how this change was communicated to permit holders, they said all permit holders should have a received a letter in March (six months ago) and a follow up e-mail in June (we didn’t see one).
We inquired who the e-mail would have been sent from and were shocked to find out it was from a generic e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org and that it could have possibly been sent to our bulk or spam e-mail. For fear of losing our permit, we asked how to rectify the situation and were told to come down to the office and pay the bill.
We decided to just pay the $60 complaint and summons and forget about the poor communication. However, when we showed up to pay, we were told we would have to pay an additional $50 late fee for a total of $110.
We mentioned this situation to our long-time next-door neighbor and to our surprise, she told us she also had to pay the $50 late fee this quarter.
She did not recall receiving a letter, but did receive an e-mail. Unfortunately, my neighbor still did not get the notification letter, because although the subject line said “Permit renewal notice,” when she opened the e-mail, she saw only an attachment with no body, and simply closed the e-mail. At the time, she thought it was an e-mail from the new West Windsor Arts Council and would get to it later.
We now have a copy of the letter from the West Windsor Parking Authority, dated June 15, which states they will be implementing their new parking software program over the next few months, permit holders will be informed of the “go live” date, and then be allowed to make online payments via credit/debit cards.
Why would the Parking Authority change the payment policy notification (with such poor communication efforts) before they had a live system up and running (so permit holders can pay online at the same time the policy is changed)?
In addition, it seems the Parking Authority could have made more prudent efforts to publicize this extreme change in payment efforts via a simple method of posting flyers at the train station and/or attached to car windshields (as a reminder)? It is now September, three months later, and no “go live” date or further updates to this policy change have been made.
Wonder how many other regular, on-time paying, West Windsor residents were hit with the $50 late fee and/or a $60 Complaint and Summons? If the total is even just 100 of us hard-working residents, this would be a total of $10,000 to $15,000 worth of additional revenue that the West Windsor Parking Authority collected in just one quarter.
Could that be used toward the so called “beautification of downtown West Windsor project” or the building of a new parking garage?