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ParkWhiz said it didn't charge me for parking -- but then it did!

When Grant Erwin tries to pay for parking at Seattle's waterfront, a website called ParkWhiz charges him $115 -- even though it claims his transaction didn't go through. Can he get a refund?

A parking lot on Seattle's waterfront at the foot of Union Street ripped me off for over $115. When you park there, you have to go to a website called ParkWhiz and give them your credit card number.

When I did that, the site told me very definitely the transaction did not go through. After repeated attempts, I gave up. When I got home, I saw $115 in credit card charges.

ParkWhiz answered my initial request for a refund, asking me to send a receipt (which I did), but since then, they have not responded at all. Their behavior is outrageous and shows Seattle's new waterfront in a very bad light. Can you help me get my money refunded?

Grant Erwin, Kirkland, Wash.

I'm sorry to hear about the extra parking charges. You were only there for a few hours and it looks like ParkWhiz charged you four times for the same spot. This should have been a no-brainer.

ParkWhiz asked you for a receipt of your parking spot, which you readily provided. And that reminds me: It's not just important to keep a receipt. If a website says your transaction didn't go through, and you suspect it may charge you again, take a screenshot. That will prove that something glitched on your end of the transaction and it will make a refund easier to get.

It's unclear why ParkWhiz stopped communicating with you after you furnished it with your receipt. But I have my suspicions. ParkWhiz works through an app on your phone. It issues a mobile parking pass once you've paid for your spot. But it's difficult to verify if a car has actually used that spot. ParkWhiz, which is just an intermediary between you and the parking lot operator, would have to contact the operator to ask if it has any records that the spot was used. That might explain the wait time.

ParkWhiz parking passes are fully refundable before the start time on the pass unless otherwise noted. So you could have canceled your reservation at any time up to the start of your reservation. But since you were already past the start time, the passes would have technically been nonrefundable if they existed.

Lesson learned? If a transaction doesn't go through, contact the company or your bank before trying again -- and again. Otherwise, you could have multiple charges for the same product on your credit card, and no way to get rid of them.

You contacted me 10 days after your parking fiasco, which was understandable. But you might have given ParkWhiz a little more time to resolve this. I think showing it a receipt should have been enough, and who pays for the same spot four times? But still, I think a fair amount of time would have been two weeks. You were close enough.

I contacted ParkWhiz on your behalf.

"It worked!" you said in a follow-up email the next day. "Today, they refunded all charges!"

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy (https://elliottadvocacy.org), a nonprofit organization that helps consumers solve their problems. Email him at [email protected] or get help by contacting him at https://elliottadvocacy.org/help/

© 2024 Christopher Elliott

 

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