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North Park driver hit with late fees after paying parking fine early

street sweeping
Posted at 4:26 PM, Jan 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-10 21:32:08-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A North Park woman is wondering what went wrong after she quickly paid off a fine for a parking ticket, and then got hit with a big late fee.

On the second Tuesday in November, Stacy parked her car on Meade Avenue near her home in the morning. When she got off work later that day, she found something unexpected on her windshield.

"I didn't read the sign correctly. Parked in a spot that said 'No Parking' and got a ticket," said Stacy, who asked 10news not to use her last name.

For parking in a street sweeping zone, she received a ticket for $52.50.

"Wrote the check the next day and sent it in the mail the following day," said Stacy.

Stacy says she included the ticket in her payment and put the citation number on the check.

"At that point, I thought everything was fine," said Stacy.

A few weeks later, she got a notice from the city saying the citation hasn't been paid, and she had a few weeks to pay it. Stacy wrote another check for $52.50 and sent it in the mail. She stopped payment on her initial check. Fast forward to late December, when she got another notice. Her payment had been received, but she now owed a late fee of $65.

"How I felt was frustration. I felt a lot of frustration, because I felt like I had done what I was supposed to do," said Stacy.

Stacy ended up paying the late fee online. She's not alone. After posting details of her ordeal on the Nextdoor app, another driver responded with a similar story. He reported that his check wasn't processed until after the late deadline.

"My concern is other people aren't able to afford late fee," said Stacy.

Stacy won't be mailing any more checks when dealing with the city.

"If checks aren't the way to do things, and they can't get to the volume ... we just need to know about it," said Stacy.

Stacy says her initial payment didn't get lost in the mail, because the city tried to cash it - weeks after the late deadline.

A city spokesperson released the following statement:

"Check payments are processed by a third party vendor located in Inglewood, Calif. The average processing time in calendar year 2019 was six days for payments mailed to the vendor. Recently, the vendor encountered delays due to the installation of new remittance processing equipment. The new equipment had connectivity issues which created a backlog of payments. Customers who reached out to the Office of the City Treasurer during the backlog were advised not to stop payment on their checks, the postmark date was considered the legal payment date. When the payments were processed, the postmark date would automatically roll back any late fees if assessed. The Office of the City Treasurer generally advises customers to use the online option as the payments are posted in real-time ... (Stacy) put a stop payment on her original check payment. When stop payments are initiated on checks, it triggers an automatic process that rolls back the original payment. When this occurs, the bank will assess a $25 stop payment fee that is added to the balance due. Late fees were automatically assessed. Her original payment was timely. Subsequently, the $40 late fee and $25 assessment were waived. (Stacy) will receive a refund check for $65 in approximately 30 days."