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Double charge for Metro parking

Has anyone using Metro parking lots and garages had an experience similar to this one?

Dear Dr. Gridlock:
I don't drive to a Metro train station very often but have had the following happen to me several times. While trying to exit the West Falls Church garage, I have had to swipe my SmarTrip card twice to get the gate to open. It beeped both times but opened only after the second swipe. (I had allowed the gate to come all the way back down before I swiped the card the first time.)

The first time this happened, I was suspicious and called the number on the back of my SmarTrip card. I discovered I was charged twice for that exit. I explained the issue to the operator, and said they needed to fix it. She said she would refund the extra charge, which she did.

This occurred about nine months ago and has reoccurred several times since then. The last time was just before the snowstorm. I started talking with other drivers and found that many of them had encountered the same problem but only some of them found out they had been overcharged and demanded refunds. At least one woman I talked to had this occur at a different station in Maryland.

Please let your readers know about this and how they can go about getting refunds. Do not have them file paperwork with the station manager, because the one time I tried this approach, they never submitted it. My receipt was worthless.

-- Roger Spurzem

He was smart to follow up by calling the number on the back of the SmarTrip card: 1-888-762-7874. A regular rider would notice pretty quickly if the card was bleeding $9 a day for parking rather than the usual $4.50, but an occasional rider might not catch it.

By Robert Thomson  |  February 22, 2010; 4:00 PM ET
Categories:  Metro  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metro parking, Metrorail  
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Next: Headaches on the horizon


This happened to me once leaving the Franconia/Springfield station due to traffic leaving the garage. I went online to Metro's website, filled out form, and received a refund to my smart card very quickly. Kudo's to Metro for making this process easy. Though, from the story above, it sounds like this is a system issue.

Posted by: skynzfan | February 22, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

I don't know if Metro is deserving of Kudos for reversing their double-charge quickly.

Metro shouldn't have been trying to rip people off to begin with.

Posted by: afsljafweljkjlfe | February 22, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Dr. G, just finished reading your chat transcript. I wanted to comment regarding Arlington, VA who said "It's more than TWO WEEKS after the storm, and I'm tired of having to wear a stupid reflective vest just to walk home Frogger-style from work at night. "

Why doesn't this person take a shovel and go shovel his route out himself? It sure beats complaining and repeated putting oneself in harm's way. Take a few hours on Saturday or something and git 'er done. I had to do this to get from my car's parking space on a surface lot rented by my employer to the office building. The sidewalk and the access to the sidewalk from the lot (without going way out of my way around the block) was covered with feet of snow and ice boulders. Not wanting to walk in the street, I asked my employer to clear the sidewalks. They hemmed and hawed. I finally took matters into my own hands and my husband and I shoveled the sidewalk adjacent to my business and the business next door (which is vacant, so expecting anyone to clear that would be an exercise in futility) all the way to the parking lot. We even cut a swath through the waist high snow pile so that one could then walk into the parking lot as well. Did we HAVE to? Nope. Not legally responsible. But we did it because there are still those of us heartily enough bred to do it just because it needs to be done, whether or not it is our responsibility. Arlington should take the same concern for his path and turn it into action as well. It's just the world we live in: if you want it done, do it yourself.

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | February 22, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: Yeah, CyanSquirrel, I think we don't deal with natural disasters that often -- very lucky for us -- so we don't have the instincts get up and take matters into our own hands, as you two did. There were plenty of failures, plenty of times when people couldn't muster anything more than a complaint about what the government failed to do.

I did see some successes. There were some volunteer efforts to clear sidewalks and trails, and there were some neighborhood efforts to clear streets when people got fed up waiting for the plows to come through.

Posted by: Robert Thomson | February 22, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse

I have had to run to run the card twice a few times at Shady Grove, although I've never been double-charged.

Posted by: ceebee2 | February 23, 2010 8:58 AM | Report abuse

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