HOLD UP: Passport Parking App Charged Users Over $30,000 By Mistake.
Yes, this is the same app that commissioners want to implement at the beach...
WVCB BOSTON: Last November, Dave Lishansky learned that when it comes to apps, convenience doesn’t always pay off. Like many Bostonians, Lishansky used the mobile parking app ParkBoston almost every day near his girlfriend’s downtown apartment. He used the app for months without any issues. As an independent businessman, it made Lishansky’s fast-paced and hectic life a little bit easier.
But that all changed when he got a message from his bank, notifying him that his balance was below $40.
After all the charges rolled in, Lishansky, who had used ParkBoston once on Nov. 14, 2016, had been charged nearly 50 times by the app. All told, that one parking session cost Lishansky over $120.
It turns out Lishansky wasn’t alone. Thousands of other ParkBoston users had been affected by duplicate charges, but most didn’t even realize it. The Boston Transportation Department never informed all app users that there had been an issue, instead responding only to users who were upset enough to complain over email or phone. A technical problem that began with the city’s credit card processor quickly turned into an issue of transparency and consumer rights.
Lishansky was just one out of thousands of affected users. According to emails obtained through a public records request to the Boston Transportation Department, approximately 6,000 ParkBoston users were affected by duplicate charges totaling around $31,000. Those emails included communications between the app developer and vendor Passport Inc. and WorldPay, the credit card processor.
The Boston Transportation Department only became aware of the issue when people like Lishansky complained by phone and email. Boston's Parking Clerk and his team had no idea what the issue was and reached out to Passport Inc. Their app vendor also couldn’t find the source of the issue and, in turn, contacted WorldPay. But that information never trickled down.
Even though the city reimbursed many ParkBoston users before they noticed the duplicate charges, many more were left to deal with money being drip fed into their accounts well into December. For people like Lishansky, who had student loan payments due, the slow reimbursement process and lack of information made for a scary experience.
That lack of transparency left many users in the dark about the quality of the service they were using every day. For many people, that information is vital moving forward. It informs their relationship with both the app and the city.
FULL STORY: WVCB BOSTON