KPRC 2 Investigates how to fight parking app issues

Here’s what you should do if you have a problem with parking

HOUSTON – The city of Houston released its parking app five years ago to make it easier for drivers to find a spot and pay for parking. But when you pay and still get a citation, one man said the city makes it tough for drivers to plead their case. KPRC 2 Investigates has advice on what you can do if it happens to you.

KPRC2 Investigates parking app issues and what to do if you have an issue. (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Parking in Houston is no picnic. But the Park Houston app by ParkMobile has at least made it more palatable for drivers like Robert Hines. The parking fine is $30. But appealing it was going to cost the driver about the same price! That’s why he called us for help.

“I use it every time I’m downtown,” said Hines.

No need to swipe your card and wait for a receipt at the meter. Once you set up your account and save your credit card, you can just reserve and pay for your parking in a designated parking zone all through the app. That’s what Hines did when he parked near Caroline and Binz in downtown Houston at the end of August. He still had time remaining when he walked back to his vehicle after lunch but he also had something else.

“When I got out, I noticed the wonderful green parking ticket on the windshield,” said Hines.

KPRC2 Investigates parking app issues and what to do if you have an issue. (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

A $30 fine for unpaid parking. The citation was issued at 12:12 p.m. But on the app every transaction is archived. It shows Hines paid for parking from 11:20 a.m. to 1:20 p.m.

“I just figured I fight the citation by sending in proof that parking was paid during the time that we were in their dining,” said Hines.

Park Houston makes it easy to dispute your citation online. Hines did that but he received this letter a couple of days later. The city cited “insufficient evidence” to dismiss his citation.

“I have no other proof other than the park mobile app information, as well as the ticket itself,” he explained.

Fighting parking tickets using parking app information

KPRC2 Investigates parking app issues and what to do if you have an issue. (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Here is where Hines got ruffled. In order to appeal the city says he would need to show up in person at the municipal courthouse downtown. Pay a $15 administrative fee and pay for parking to get the citation dismissed.

“So, when you start doing the math, you know, time, value, money, you recognize that you know, just pay the ticket,” he said.

So, he paid $30 that he didn’t owe before more late fees were added. Doesn’t seem fair.

KPRC2 Investigates parking app issues and what to do if you have an issue. (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

We sent Hines’ problem along with proof he paid for his parking to management at Park Houston. In minutes, they detected an error. They said Hines left one letter off of the custom plate he entered in the Park Houston app. That’s why the parking officer didn’t match the payment with the plate on Hines’ vehicle.

The easiest resolution: Include screenshots as evidence if you do dispute your citation online. And if you are denied, you can always email parking@houstontx.Gov to get someone’s attention.

Hines is correcting his plate number in the app and the city says they are reversing the $30 payment to Hines’ credit card.

KPRC2 Investigates parking app issues and what to do if you have an issue. (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Statement from Park Houston:

When the customer contested the citation online, they did not provide a screenshot of the payment record. When the hearing officer looked up the plate for payment in the backend system - they used the license plate entered on the citation which did not show a payment. The customer should update their Parkmobile account to reflect the correct plate to prevent a recurrence.

The hearing officer has found the customer not liable for the expired meter now that we can see a payment was actually made. We are reversing the citation payment and the customer will be issued a refund back to their credit card.

If you could share with your viewers - when contesting citations online, provide pictures and/or screenshots for the hearing officers to review. If customers have questions, they can reach out to us directly at parking@houstontx.gov - this contact info is provided on the back of the citation. Our website also has contact info and FAQs for customers,


About the Author:

Passionate consumer advocate, mom of 3, addicted to coffee, hairspray and pastries.