The City of Seattle has constructed a very clever way to steal money from their citizens through “hidden” traffic citations.
Here is an example of a citation I recently received. Notice, in big numbers at the top the citation number. After receiving the citation I went on-line to pay, including the $4 fee for online payment. Naturally the city accpeted my money with no questions. I thought all was well.
Did you notice that on that ticket there was a second citation with no penalty listed at all? Neither did I, it’s in the “Public Comments” section. Not the general place where these citations are listed. Also, the second citation is, according to officer J. McBroom with whom I spoke, just a “courtesy notice”. Two months later this “courtesy notice” has now been sent to collections and become a $95 charge.
When I paid the top-line citation on the court website there was no mention made of this “hidden” citation at all. If these two tickets are related, shouldn’t the system communicate that to me and charge me accordingly for both?
I called the Court House for information. The phone system, while buggy, eventually found my citation number, for the “hidden” one. When announcing the ticket details the IVR was clearly missing prompts, as if the ticket data was not found. I tried a second time with the same result. Attempts to speak to a person were announced as a 15 minute wait time but, it was actually over 25 minutes.
When I finally did get a person on the phone they were not able to identify this citation.
In summary: An overtime parking violation was given to me which also referenced (in small font with no mention of value) a second citation that is just a courtesy notice. I paid the original citation and no communications were made about the second, related citation. Two months later the City sent me to collections. I called the Court House to find information but their system and humans were not able to find any information about the citation in question. AllianceOne, who executes the collections are impossible to talk to,
This is how “The Man” oppresses: Through combination of bad information, poorly implemented systems and failures of communication the government steals.