Resident Frustrated with Delay in Parking Charges at Walnut Creek Garage

April 19, 2017 8:00 am · 51 comments

A resident is voicing her frustration with the city’s delay in charging for parking at one of its downtown garages.

The following note came from the Claycordian, who said she contacted the city and found out why she’s now being charged hundreds of dollars.

I’ve been parking in the City of Walnut Creek’s public parking garage next to the Lesher Center Monday through Friday for the past almost nine years. I use my debit/credit card to enter the garage, and the same one to exit, at which point I am issued a receipt. Typically it’s $4 for the amount of time I’m there for the day.

This week, my co-workers alerted me that their debit/credit cards had been charged many times over for the same dates. I checked my online bank statement and I have 10 pending charges and 15 completed charges for April 13, and three pending and three completed charges for April 14. Mind you, I should have one per day.

I went to the office at the parking structure. They referred me to Carla Hansen at the City. She told me that the City was doing software upgrades January through March. And because of this, none of the charges had been processed at the time, and they are all going through now. So, that’s three months of charges that they are processing now. This is totally unacceptable. They essentially stored my credit card information, not to mention there was NO notice posted at the garage that this was occurring. So, I have hundreds of dollars coming out of my bank account. She said she has had many people contact her.

QUESTION FOR CLAYCORDIANS: Do you think the city should have notified its customers about the delay?

Rdub April 19, 2017 at 8:13 AM

So this person never looked at their bank statements to notice those charges never went through?

XlibXdem April 19, 2017 at 8:17 AM

I heard this was a result of the vendor who handles this for WC, sending all the Billings in at once. (They were apparently way behind)….So they all hit at once.

ConcordMike April 19, 2017 at 8:19 AM

Most definitely. It should be the city’s loss for the days that the system was down.

Silva April 19, 2017 at 8:24 AM

Welcome to the 1980’s.

ManBearPig April 19, 2017 at 8:25 AM

Snowflake problems

Jill April 19, 2017 at 8:36 AM

I don’t understand her argument. It would be like someone complaining that someone took a long time cashing a check. Essentially she’s complaining because she isn’t good at tracking her money and didn’t notice the missing charges that are now coming through? I’d be grateful if someone took their time taking my money. 🙂

Safety Second April 19, 2017 at 8:42 AM

What did you expect? When it comes to ANYTHING “Government” the end result is always mediocracy and excessive spending

Nature Lover April 19, 2017 at 8:45 AM

Interesting that she never “noticed or advised” the City when she wasn’t being charged during a 2 month period.

Annoyed April 19, 2017 at 8:57 AM

I had $1.50 charge on my debit card. I called the bank and they said charge was made on April 12th (with my card) – since I knew I was NOT in Walnut Creek that day – my bank suggested I cancel my card immediately. This, of course, was/is a HUGE hassle!!! I am SO FRUSTRATED!!!! City should have let us know that a $1.50 (or whatever charge) is going to hit our accounts 3 months later! Ridiculous!!! My bank assumed someone was just “testing” my card and there would be more charges following….

JessG April 19, 2017 at 9:15 AM

Walnut creek just put meter in the little shopping center across from Kaiser where subway, pizzaguys is. Its ridiculous!! And the meter start at 9am -11pm. So crazy!! 1quarter is less the 10 mins! Walnut Creek is the worse coty for parking!!

JAFO April 19, 2017 at 9:17 AM

It sounds as if the January-March parking charges were legitimate but that postings to credit card users’ accounts were delayed until April. One can understand the card holders’ confusion, but inferring any nefarious intent on the part of the city is a reach. Pay your bills and move on with your lives.

Isabeau April 19, 2017 at 9:17 AM

If this is how a technology contractor handles a payment system cutover, I’d fire that contractor. Rule #1 is to not mess with people’s money. It could also be a violation of the merchant agreement with the credit card companies.

mtzman April 19, 2017 at 9:19 AM

I had the same experience as Annoyed, except my charge was for fifty cents. Fortunately, I dug a little deeper and found out what was going on before the credit card was cancelled. I’m not a huge fan of Walnut Creek anyway and now there is additional incentive not to shop or dine there.

jackie April 19, 2017 at 9:27 AM

While it’s annoying, she used the garage and owes the money – pretty simple.

Jaxson April 19, 2017 at 9:35 AM

This is why we never go downtown for anything! Live in WC, but never shop there. There’s plenty of other places to be entertained and buy stuff.

Mark April 19, 2017 at 9:35 AM

Did you park there? Pay the bill. Everyone else does. You knew you had charges coming, so you should still have the money to pay. Not keeping track of your finances should not be the City’s problem. It’s called responsibility.

Jennifer April 19, 2017 at 9:39 AM

This happened to me as well. Yes, I check my online banking quite often! From January to April it showed it was pending so everytime I assumed it went through like it always does. I park at the Broadway and Cypress St one everyday. You were still able to pay with your card from those times. If they were changing systems, they should have notified us in January and not March! I agree with her!

RunnerDope April 19, 2017 at 9:43 AM

I can understand how that migt be annoying, but on the other hand you got an interest free loan for a couple months.

Kayla April 19, 2017 at 10:01 AM

Bottom line is that if a company or city knows they’re having billing issues and/or software updates they should inform their consumers and those who could be effected.

Annon April 19, 2017 at 10:09 AM

They must taking lessons on management and upgrades from BART.

Same April 19, 2017 at 10:13 AM

JAFO, is it a ‘reach’ to assume the government might be in err? If you say yes, then I ask you to trust the IRS, DMV, and FTB implicitly. Maybe government agencies don’t have nefarious intent but they are certainly proficient with incompetence like everywhere else. Should I just assume the twenty, 3-month old charges on my card were all legit? What if it were fastrak posting 3 month old charges on a bridge I drive occasionally? The right thing to do would have been to post notice of the problem IN THE GARAGE(S) and then failing that, consider the 3 months a loss and move on. Don’t ask the patrons to take it on faith that the city or their contractor knows what they are doing.

Rob April 19, 2017 at 10:13 AM

So the charges were all appropriate the issue is when they were deducted?

I get that is frustrating, particularly when using a debit card since it comes directly from an account you have may have checks or auto-debits coming out.

I gave up using a Debit card for this reason – even with Private Companies they may have a delay for some reason and then I had to keep track of it to ensure money was available for everything else – even Auto-Debits can be delayed for various reason…

I gave up my Debit Card and simply use a Credit Card now then pay it off.

With the Credit Card if there is a delay its not an issue since there is no fear of money coming out of an account and if there is a mistake the Credit Card Company deals with it – its their money that is outstanding unlike a Debit where the money was taken out of my account…

Same April 19, 2017 at 10:17 AM

Manbearpig, this is definitely a small problem. Let’s look at what happened in Fresno yesterday and in Europe on a bi-monthly basis and be thankful this parking baloney is what angers us today. We could be the innocent victim of violence another day.

Did I Say That Out Loud April 19, 2017 at 10:20 AM

When you balance your account in a timely manner the discrepancy would have been noticed immediately. The money in your account does not always reflect the correct balance as there maybe outstanding debits or credits. You owed for parking, you settled your portion of the debt, you got to “use” that money on the float time – quit whining – they aren’t taking more than you authorized.

Lorelei April 19, 2017 at 10:23 AM

I NEVER shop in Walnut Creek because of the parking situation!

WC resident April 19, 2017 at 10:36 AM

If I read the story correctly I’m wondering where was the outrage when they were not charged for parking? I keep my receipts and check each one off on the statement. We notice if a charge does not go through as expected and call the vendor.

I agree though that when there’s a snafu it’s a huge hassle trying to get it sorted out.

Yes You Said That Out Loud April 19, 2017 at 11:01 AM

Who the heck “balances” their accounts anymore? What is this 1965?

With online access and realtime notifications from my bank, the monthly statement is something to merely glance over these days.

Shoulda Coulda April 19, 2017 at 11:02 AM

@ Lorelei

People love to shop in Walnut Creek.
That’s why there’s a shortage of parking.
If you don’t like to look for a parking spaces
you can do your shopping in Martinez
where there are plenty of places to park
but not much to shop for but antiques or
you can go to Concord and park for free.
I’m sure you’ll love the variety of stores there.

Jeff April 19, 2017 at 11:06 AM

I agree – who really tracks every 1.50 to 5.00 charge to see if goes from pending to deducted? 1-2 charges not big deal, but if someone parks there daily – nobody wants to get hit with $100 of unexpected charges resulting from 20-25 $3-4 charges…

Jojo Potato April 19, 2017 at 11:40 AM

When you park in WC you’re paying for our library. Some of us remember that the final piece of the financing was a loan against future parking revenues. Still no excuse for a three month software change. As a software guy (retired) myself I am embaressed at the constant screwups we all must endure.

OverWhelmed April 19, 2017 at 11:56 AM

Wrong – They can not do that. If they are charging your credit/debit card after the fact without any prior notice, this the same thing as someone who has stolen your cards. This is punishable by the law. This should be taken to an attorney and they should be prosecuted as a criminal act against you and the bank. This is not legal.

Reversed the charges April 19, 2017 at 11:58 AM

I had my bank reverse all the charges for this and cancel my card and issue me a new one. Problem solved. Should have charged me then not 3 months later.

AnonZ April 19, 2017 at 12:10 PM

Yes, they should have. However, I check my statement every month and in between from time to time online. If I saw that the charges were NOT coming thru as they should have, I’d have questioned it then. She’s not out any money if the charges are correct; she’s just paying in a lump sum instead of paying all along.

I agree with Post 31 – use a credit card so you can dispute it; much quicker and easier. I almost never use a Debit card as, if something were to happen, I wouldn’t want hackers to get my cash. Charge on my card all you want, that comes back very quickly once the fraud is discovered.

Concord Resident April 19, 2017 at 12:29 PM

Another reason not to go to Walnut Creek. I agree parking should have been free on days system down. THREE months…someone should also be fired for that incompetence.

I was shopping at Talbots over a year ago (last visit). Suppose to get validated free parking. But…. you have to pay parking first, and get validation for next parking visit. Only on WC would they advertise free validated parking and it’s not! I was not even in there for 30 minures and had a ticket. Mailed in my validation ticket as payment with an oh so nice letter.

Avoid it like the plague!

primo April 19, 2017 at 12:35 PM

and you expected somethimg different from city hall ???????????????????

WCreek Mom April 19, 2017 at 12:40 PM

Yes, I reconcile all my statements each month using Quicken. Takes maybe 10 minutes. If you aren’t doing it, don’t whine when things get missed.

Cautiously Informed April 19, 2017 at 1:07 PM

It’s the government. What do you expect? There is no accountability and customer/taxpayer care.

WC resident April 19, 2017 at 1:18 PM

Credit cards are far better than debit for many reasons.

1) Debit card users have next to zero rights. Credit cards have reams of rights. When there’s a snafu these rights are a huge issue and are in your favor. If there are unauthorized charges on a debit card you are responsible for them and can only thank lucky stars (and not the law) should someone else agree to eat the liability for charges. Your credit card liability is capped at $50.

2) A credit card means the bank is loaning you the money interest free, assuming you pay off the balance every month. It’s assumed you are paying off the balance as we are comparing this vs. debit where the money gets taken out of your account within seconds of you swiping the card in a retail outlet.

3) As the bank hard issuer is on the hook (see item 2 above) they tend to be far more proactive about monitoring for unusual and likely unauthorized charges on a credit card.

Combining 1, 2, and 3 – when there’s a snafu with a credit card the bank tends to be on your side as it’s their money at risk, not yours. If a debit card was used the bank could care less. The vendor involved already has YOUR money and also does not care other than possibly needing to return YOUR money to you. You are the only one that cares as you are out however much money is involved.

4) Your entire checking account could get cleaned out by a debit card leading to overdraft charges, bounced check charges, and endless hassle for you dealing with a system that simply does not care as they have your money. Ideally, your credit card is only on manual pay (either on line or via check). At worse, a fraudster runs charges up to the credit card limit and you can’t use it any more. You simply contest the charges and don’t pay them. It becomes the bank’s hassle, not yours.

5) Credit card purchases often get extra perks such as extended warranties and automatic life insurance on airline tickets. While debit card issuers could do the same that’s not normally the case.

Years ago when BofA replaced my ATM card with a debit card I went to the bank the same day and had them cancel it and to give me an ATM card. That’s causes occasional hassle as I seem to be one of the very few people with an ATM card. It’s getting harder and harder to find a person at the bank who knows how to renew or issue ATM cards. They are happy to give you a debit card and have that on speed dial. ATM card work results in endless fumbling with the keyboard trying to find menus/options they almost never use.

Frank April 19, 2017 at 1:23 PM

Walnut Creek is working hard to discourage people from shopping or dining there.

Jojo Potato April 19, 2017 at 1:58 PM

@WCreek Mom : thanks for helping google/amazon/ebay by putting all your finance through Quicken. In those 10 minutes your information has been sold and resold seversl times. Enjoy!

WC resident April 19, 2017 at 2:05 PM

@Concord #36 – Validated free parking is intended for use at the garages where you pay on exit. I would not expect it to work at an on-street or in-garage metered spot where you pay first (or pray and run).

KAD April 19, 2017 at 2:19 PM

If you don’t balance your account then you must have enough money so you don’t have to worry about it. She owed the money so she must pay for the parking. Always use a credit card and not a debit card for the reason others have mentioned.

Amy April 19, 2017 at 2:23 PM

I check my bank account daily. I noticed a .50 charge last week from the City of Walnut Creek. I blew it off (only .50 so I ate it). Today another .50 charge from the City of Walnut Creek. Since I haven’t been to Walnut Creek in months, I called my bank and they suggested I dispute the charge and close my account as this could be that someone got my card number and was testing it. Yes, it is a big hassle for me, the bank and the City of Walnut Creek. B you can’t be too careful with your card these days. I doubt the City of Walnut Creek will hold anyone accountable.

KenInConcord April 19, 2017 at 3:05 PM


Will Walnut Creek get the message!

WCMom April 19, 2017 at 4:37 PM


My Quicken isn’t linked to anything and I don’t use the mobile app, so I really don’t see how they can resell my data.

The Professor April 19, 2017 at 4:48 PM

So you are pissed off that you parked, were never charged, and then they figured it out and charged you.

The next time you go to the ATM and withdraw $20 bucks and the machine gives you $2,000 dollars, do not spend it. It’s not your money, it’s the banks.

The money that you are being charged is not your money, it is the parking lot’s because you used it and they didn’t charge you at that specific time.

Sucks to get hit all at once, but you owe the money.

You Can't Fix Stupid April 19, 2017 at 5:38 PM

This is why I pay cash.

sideline April 19, 2017 at 6:15 PM

The HONEST thing she should have done is call and figure why she was not charged.

Did I Say That Out Loud April 19, 2017 at 8:52 PM

Please note that financial institutions will always cover their asses with the notification that your current balance may not reflect credits and debits not yet posted. Yeah, I said that and so did they. It’s the way they protect themselves from people who are too lazy or stupid to balance their accounts.

NicoleG April 19, 2017 at 10:12 PM

For all the people who chose to comment attacking the working woman who wrote this clearly have no lives, yet time to check $4 charges daily because you have nothing better to do with your time. The rest of us working folk who hAve a 9-5 and kids and tball and dinner to cook and bills to pay don’t have the energy, time or band width. The city of Walnut Creek should have notified the working woman bottom line and to think you all are so good at math, she’s almost paid $10,000 to this garage over the past 9 years. As a long time customer, she has every right to be upset and compain about what happened to her. She works hard for that money and to wake up one morning and not have it in her account and not know why is a very valid concern.

Led April 20, 2017 at 12:32 AM

Get real, commenters: the poster is not saying that she should have been able to park for free, but that unannounced delays in processing payments are crappy, and that they should have notified people ahead of time rather than charging all the backed up charges at once with no notice. I think that should be pretty uncontroversial!

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