Home Security Wrong date leads to US$4000 charge for a day's parking
Wrong date leads to US$4000 charge for a day's parking Pixabay

Drivers using four car parks in the city of Winchester in the US state of Virginia got a nasty surprise last week when they were suddenly issued parking tickets for US$4000 by the automated ticketing system.

Normal charges for using any of the car parks for an entire day is just US$10, according to a report in The Winchester Star.

The report quoted Winchester Facilities Maintenance and Parking Division manager Corey MacKnight as saying: "All of a sudden, we got a call in the office that said, ‘The machine’s trying to charge me US$4000'.”

MacKnight and his officers went down to one of the car parks and figured out what had happened. The day on which the incident occurred was the morning of 17 August, but the software that was being used had it down as 16 August.

Since dates cannot go backward, the software assumed it was 16 August 2019 and issued tickets demanding payment for an entire year.

The computers running the automated ticketing software had to be rebooted and it took about an hour to rectify the problem. During that time, the boom gates at the parking lots were raised to allow vehicles to go in and out without paying any fees.

But drivers who had entered the parking lots while the issue was still present were overcharged as well and the Parking Authority had to issue refunds.

Commenting on the incident, Yaron Haviv, the chief technology officer and co-founder of continuous data platform Iguazio, said: "A glitch like this is unacceptable. Not only does this cause major frustration and confusion – something municipalities spend a significant amount of time and money to avoid – but the technology to mitigate such issues already exists.

"The parking lots could have avoided this glitch and been aware of the incident before it occurred had they used predictive AI algorithms in real-time, with analytic technologies already widely available."


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the sitecame into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.


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