by Sarah Perez : techcrunch – excerpt
Fixed, a mobile app that fights parking tickets and other traffic citations on users’ behalf, has had its parking ticket operations blocked in three of its top cities, San Francisco, Oakland and L.A. after the cities increased the measures they were taking to block Fixed from accessing their parking ticket websites.
The company confirms it has suspended parking ticket operations in all three cities as of three weeks ago – a move impacting around 100,000 users. Going forward, Fixed will focus on its Traffic Ticket business instead, we’re told.
The startup has had issues with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) for some time.
The agency was never all that receptive to the service, and the way it automated the ticket contesting process for locals. Using its app, Fixed customers could snap a photo of their parking ticket using their phone’s camera, and then Fixed would check against a variety of common errors before writing a customized letter to the city on the user’s behalf. The app also cleverly tapped into Google Street View to check to see if the city had the proper signage in place in the area a ticket was received… (more)
See the next story for a luck at how “fair” SFMTA is in its business dealings. They are very selective when it comes to picking winners and losers in their “sharing” game.
Founder David Hegarty once noted that over half of tickets have an issue that would make them invalid, but the city didn’t tend to play by its own rules when arbitrating disputes. That made Fixed’s “win” rate only 20%-30% on tickets, as of earlier this year. (When the company won, it charged a success fee of 25% of the original fine – a reduction in what a customer would have otherwise paid.)…
But in August, Xerox began using a third-party organization to block Fixed from accessing the parking ticket site. While Fixed engineers could still work around the block, it now required an increased amount of engineering time and resources, and this also impacted Fixed’s customer service operations…
“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,” he continues.
“Parking Ticket Fines account for 15% of the SFMTA operating budget, and it looks like they objected to us providing some accountability to their process,” Hegarty adds… (more)
Additional reporting: Drew Olanoff