City parking meters don't give change
If you hate paying for parking you're going to hate this even more. Hank found you've been paying too much! So she went straight to City Hall and now things are going to change! Hank Investigates.
If you want to park on a Boston city street, you know you've got to pay the meter.
But wait a minute, you know these spiffy multi-space meters? Where there's like one pay-station per 8 spaces? You can pay with a credit card, or bills, or quarters. But we found there's something missing.
Boston Parking Meter User: "It's just another way the city is keeping money from us."
Look. There's a two hour limit, the sign says. That'd cost 2 dollars and fifty cents. So you slide three bucks into the slot…feel for your fifty cents in the little coin return place...but nothing. No change.
The meter says 25 cents for 12 minutes--but if you put in a dollar-- no change. You lose 75 cents.
Boston Parking Meter User: "That's not very fair!"
Not like a soda machine or a candy machine. No change.
Boston Parking Meter User: "At least there should be a sign that says it!"
There are signs in Brookline, where the meters clearly say: no change. At this Harvard parking lot in Cambridge--the deal is in big red letters...no change. But in Boston, the 100-plus multi-space meters --handling about 1000 spaces and a million transactions a year!--also don't give change. But Boston meters don't warn you about it.
Hank: "Why don't the meters say no change?"
Tom Timlin, Boston Transportation Commissioner: "I don't want to say we missed it, but //it just never came up."
And as a result, every time you pay too much--the city wins.
Hank: "How much money has the city gotten from people paying too much for parking?"
Tom Timlin, Boston Transportation Commissioner: "There'd be no way to quantify that."
Hank: "But certainly some."
Tom Timlin, Boston Transportation Commissioner : "Oh, I'm sure."
It took a little more than a week from the time we first called City Hall about the no-change meters to the time we set up our cameras for this interview, and by that time--well, some changes had been made.
Hank: "So now you're gonna make a change."
Tom Timlin, Boston Transportation Commissioner: "Yeah, we think it's a great idea."
City workers began putting these on every multi-space meter in Boston. It's a "no change" change…that the city says is a change for the better.
Tom Timlin, Boston Transportation Commissioner: "When somebody says hey we have a problem and it makes some sense to do it, then we fix it!"
How much will the stickers cost? We were told they make them in house at City Hall. And they're "very inexpensive."