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You Can't Use The App That Fights Parking Tickets In L.A. Anymore

You're on your own again (Photo by Atwater Village Newbie via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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An app that helps you fight parking and traffic tickets is no longer offering its services in Los Angeles, and the app's founder says it's because they've been blocked. Fixed is a mobile app that you can use to fight parking or traffic tickets. When you get a citation, you take a photo of it with your phone. Fixed will then check to see if there are any errors on the ticket, check Google Street View to see if the area had the correct signage, and then send a letter to the city. With parking tickets, if Fixed gets the ticket cleared, you owe them a quarter of the original fine. There is no charge for tickets Fixed wasn't able to help you out with. In the event that Fixed couldn't clear your ticket, Fixed would at least help you pay it, meaning you wouldn't have to navigate the city's payment site.

The Bay Area-based startup has since expanded to other states, including New York, but has ceased operations in Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco. Founder David Hegarty says it's because those cities have blocked the app from accessing their ticketing websites.

The three cities all outsource with Xerox State and Local Solutions to take care of many of their ticketing operations duties. Hegarty claims that Xerox has been trying to block their app from ticketing websites for some time now, and he thinks Xerox was told to do this by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. At first, he said Fixed just worked around the blocks, but that Xerox eventually began using a more sophisticated blocking system via a third-party provider. While Fixed can still work around this new block, it uses up a lot of Fixed employees' time and resources. As a result, any tickets currently in the system in San Francisco, Oakland and L.A. will be dealt with, but no new tickets will be accepted.

"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 told TechCrunch.

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SFMTA made the following statement to TechCrunch:

Xerox has made a security change to their system which no longer allows for mass electronic submissions and payments for all their clients. According to Xerox, this is to enhance internal control and system integrity. This was not a request from the SFMTA. In fact, we have reassigned staff to help support any submissions being made by Fixed and they can still submit protests online or continue to submit paper copies.

Hegarty said that a majority of citations contain an error of some sort that would clear them, but that because cities often cut themselves slack, Fixed was typically only able to get 20 to 30 percent of tickets dropped. Doing this on your own has a 28 percent success rate, according to the L.A. Times.

Hegarty told the Times last year that he believed the SFMTA was "willfully discriminating" against the app's contests and that, "when they deny our contests, they do not include a reason for denial."

SFMTA denied this, saying, "There is no secret to overturning a citation. If there is a valid reason to dismiss, then that citation gets dismissed."

As for Xerox, they've been accused in the past of purposefully holding up appeals.