Nearly 100,000 people plagued by parking tickets are being left to fend for themselves after an app withdrew its services from three major cities three weeks ago.
The mobile app Fixed helps individuals penalized by parking violations through the steps of disputing their tickets. Users can take a picture of their ticket, enter the citation number on the app, and Fixed takes it from there. After figuring out the likelihood of winning a case, Fixed uses previous successful templates to draft a letter on the person’s behalf to contend the violation.
Now three top cities, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Oakland are taking measures to ban Fixed from their parking ticket websites.
According to Techcrunch, the mastermind and founder of Fixed, David Hegarty, stated that nearly half of parking violations given out have errors that would make them dismissible.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) wasn’t happy with the startup’s operations from the start. Fixed was successful at cross checking for common errors committed by parking patrollers and dismissing parking violations for locals. The service also utilized Google Street View to verify that the signs were properly placed to ensure that their users were not in the wrong.
Last year, the SFMTA told Fixed to cease faxing its submissions to the agency, but Fixed noted their actions were completely legal. Starting in February and through March of this year, the three cities began to outsource their ticketing operations to Xerox, who were instructed to block Fixed via CAPTCHA and IP blocking. Hegarty and his team easily found a way to bypass it, but in August, Xerox recruited a third party to ban Fixed from the cities’ parking websites.
Though Hegarty noted that their team of engineers could find a way around it, it would require more company time and resources. The startup’s customer services operations would also be affected and so Fixed withdrew their services from the cities.
Hegarty stated in response to the ban:
“It’s unfortunate that the SFMTA decided to block our service. Over 60,000 parking tickets had been submitted to Fixed. Not only were we helping people beat their unfair parking tickets, but the alerts on our app were helping people pay their parking fines on time and avoid late fees.”
The company said they are refocusing their efforts on traffic tickets instead, but will finish processing the tickets that are already in their system. Until the issue is resolved, Fixed is currently not accepting new applications in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland.