Markets in everything, continued
How about this?
ParkingTicket.com [is] the first Internet company to help drivers contest parking tickets online…”It’s such a unique concept — fighting tickets for you,” says Austin, for whom the service was a godsend, given that she averages 5 to 10 parking tickets a year. “Some of these tickets are unfounded and you start getting a little mad every time you write a check to the city.”
On the ParkingTicket.com Web site, clients who get tickets in the District, New York or San Francisco are guided through 30 to 50 questions about the circumstances of their tickets — whether the meter was broken, what the parking sign said, did they have a medical emergency, etc. They transfer details from the ticket to a look-alike online version. Then they key in their credit-card data to pay for the service — if the ticket is dismissed. No dismissal, no charge.
ParkingTicket.com’s computers analyze the data in search of grounds for dismissal. If there are none, clients get an e-mail recommending that they pay the ticket promptly. It’s free advice. But if the computer finds a loophole, technicality or error, or a compelling reason to contest, the client is e-mailed a customized dismissal-request letter, with instructions on what proof to attach and where to mail it.
Because her car was disabled, Austin’s ticket was dismissed. ParkingTicket.com charged her half of what the ticket would’ve cost her — $25. Case closed.
The District of Columbia takes in more than $100 million in parking tickets each year, a major source of city revenue. The head of ParkingTicket.com claims that seventy to eighty percent of those tickets should be dismissed for technical or legal reasons.
Here is a previous installment of Markets in Everything, try this one too.