Drivers Say New Parking Meters Eat Your Money

(Memphis) Before you feed your next parking meter in downtown Memphis, listen up – you could lose money if you don’t pay the meter quickly.

Michael McGhee learned that the hard way.

“I paid the meter and I think I’m fine,” McGhee said. “I come back, and I have a ticket.”

A $21 ticket McGhee says he doesn’t deserve.

“I put a quarter in, and it says a minimum of 50 cents, so I go back in the car, going through the tray, found another quarter, ran up, put it in, ran to Lenny’s,” he said. “I come back and I have a ticket on the car. I was like, how do I have a ticket?”

So he looked at the meter.

“It said zero,” he said.

He put 50 cents in, but the meter didn’t register that because the new smart meters the City of Memphis installed a few months ago are time sensitive…but there’s no sign on the meter to tell you.

You have 17 seconds to put your second quarter in, or the whole meter resets.

“I can understand the frustration with this particular meter and hopefully once you experience that one time you won’t have that experience again,” City Engineer John Cameron said.

Reporter: “Is there any way to get your money back or do you lose your money if you don’t hit the 17 seconds?”

Cameron: “On these particular meters, you do not get your money back.”

He said when the city purchased the new meters, the default time from the company was set at seven seconds, and the city added ten seconds to give you more time.

“We had to weigh between how much time to give people to find the change and how long we wanted people to wait for confirmation that there transaction was accepted.”

He says the good thing with these meters is, if you don’t have the change on hand, you can use your credit card, which is why there’s a minimum on the meters.

“One of the disadvantages is that there are charges associated with credit cards, and the cost of the new equipment mandated that we put a 50 cent minimum on the new parking meters.”

Most people we spoke with didn’t know about the new minimum or the time crunch to feed the meter.

“It would be nice if it was printed on there,” one customers said. “It makes sense to be a little more forthcoming about it.”

McGhee said he hopes the city will consider alerting customers, or increase the time so you don’t learn a costly lesson, too.

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