I am Innocent, but I Paid the Price

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Today, I drove myself to the City Council payment collection center near the Esplanade in Penang and paid a parking compound of RM30.  There is always a discount of 50% if payment is made within 14 days, but I had to pay the full fee of RM30 because I had no choice.

Now this is so unlike me to pay for something which I am not a fault with, but if you would just bear with me for a few minutes, I would like to share my story.

About 2 years ago, my family and I parked our car at Rangoon Road in Penang, and had a nice lunch at one of our favorite restaurants there.  We must have been really hungry that day, because we forgot to place our shaded parking ticket on display (Penang implements the parking payment via shading of parking payment coupons/tickets).  After we had filled our tummies with our white curry noodles and chicken rice, to our dismay, we found a parking compound ticket issued and placed on the windscreen.  The fine was RM30 but if settled within 14 days, there would be a 50% discount on the fine.  We accepted our mistake but I would just like to point out that ironically, we noticed that there were other cars parked around us, which were NOT parked in proper parking spaces (along yellow lines for example), and were NOT issued compound tickets.  I just find it incredibly unjustifiable that we were penalised just because we didn’t pay the parking fee ALTHOUGH we were parked in a proper parking space, but those that were NOT in a proper space without paying, could get away scott-free!

Anyway, I digress.

I paid the parking compound well within the 14-day timeframe.  RM15 paid, after driving more than 30 minutes to the payment collection center at the Esplanade and then another 30 minutes back to my house.

I thought that that was the end of it.

However, in March this year, I received a letter from the City Council – Majlis Bandaraya Pulau Pinang (MBPP) stating that I have an UNPAID compound ticket, and the letter also attached the compound ticket that was issued.

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I was shocked beyond words, but I very confidently retrieved my duly paid compound ticket and receipt in August 2014, and made a call to the MBPP.  Upon further investigation, I noticed that the UNPAID compound ticket that I was deemed to have not paid, was on the SAME DATE, within a few minutes apart from the one I had paid, and issued by a different officer.  The location of the ticket was the same.  The one I had paid had a timestamp of 2:13pm on August 16 2014 and the one unpaid had a timestamp of 1:46pm on the same date.

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Now tell me: How is it possible the same ONE car be issued a compound ticket for the SAME OFFENCE at the SAME PLACE at around the same time on the SAME DATE? I asked the MBPP if it was common practice for its enforcement officers to place another compound over one that had already been issued, and I was told NO.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that evidently, the initial compound ticket must have flown away or someone had taken it, and then in a short span of time (oh yes, they are that efficient), another officer came around and issued another compound ticket!  If you look at the ticket I was deemed to have NOT PAID, the No. Petak (Parking space ID) is even blank!  The officer didn’t even know the ID of the parking space, how can he/she issue a compound in such a case?!

It’s not like I want to evade paying the compound either.  I had already paid it, and now they are asking me to pay another RM30 for this “OFFENCE” which I have already clearly paid for.

I called and emailed and wrote in explaining the situation and was informed that my case had been escalated to a different department, after my insistence and persistence.

Months went by and I received another letter in early June this year, stating that the offence still holds, and I was instructed to pay the RM30 immediately, otherwise MBPP would press court charges against me.

I made some calls again, each time explaining the situation and then I was instructed to lodge yet another complaint, this time via the e-aduan route to MBPP. After about 2 weeks, I received a text message stating that they have investigated my case, and the offence still holds.  The reason given is that “OFFENCE” is punishable, following the laws of car park in council areas.

BUT I HAD ALREADY PAID FOR THAT OFFENCE AND THIS IS A DOUBLE CHARGE!!!

I don’t understand why MBPP cannot use their common sense to see it!

I called up the enforcement officer in charge again, and he told me there was nothing he could do now and I could only wait for MBPP to summon me to the court to handle the case.

After deliberating and debating though, I decided to just pay the compound of RM30.  Looking at the way this issue has been dragging and dragging and not amounting to any sense, I didn’t have any confidence that going to court would solve the problem in my favour.  In any case, it would mean the hassle of presenting myself in court at the appointed time and date (I don’t know – I have never been to court before, let alone being summoned, so I wouldn’t know what it entails), and then by the looks of the situation, I may be slapped with an additional fine amounting to the hundreds!

Paying RM30 is not a sign of defeat.  It is my choice to make not to have to go through this ridiculous goose chase of which nobody seems to see my point of view.  I have sacrificed RM30 (which is equivalent to 2 packets IZUMIO, by the way) but it is a win for convenience and a win for the relief that there is no UNPAID status ticket hanging over my head.

(Penangites or perhaps anyone who has parked in Penang before: if you want to check if you have mysterious or unknown compound tickets from MBPP, you can click here)

I hope to NEVER have to deal with this problem again.

(Photo at the top Credit to: Clem Onojeghuo)

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