‘Glitch’ in new system overcharged parkers at Providence Place Mall

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The company that runs the parking lot at Providence Place Mall is working to fix a glitch in its computer system that has overcharged more than two dozen patrons over the last two months.

At least 30 people have been reimbursed after they were charged extra when the garage’s new license plate recognition (LPR) feature kept license plates on file after a tab wasn’t paid, even if the gate was open when the person was departing the mall, according to Dante Bellini, a spokesperson for the mall.

Bellini said LAZ Parking, a private company that runs the garage, is working with its technology provider to resolve the problem.

“The irony here is that the gates go up as a convenience to the customer either because of volume issues or an evacuation and prove out how effective the LPR system actually performs,” Bellini said.

Under the new system, every car that enters the garage has a picture taken of their front license plate, according to Keith Baez, a manager for LAZ Parking. He said the plate number is connected to the ticket each parker receives upon entrance. Once a ticket is paid when a person leaves the mall, the computer system registers the license plate as paid.

But Baez acknowledged that if a ticket wasn’t paid because the gates were already open when a person was leaving the garage, their license plate may have remained stored in the system.

Baez said all customers have to do is hit the help button at any exit lane in the garage and the company will correct the issue.

Overall, there have been few problems with the new system. Bellini noted that while 30 people have been reimbursed over the last two months, more than 250,000 cars have parked in the garage.

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Dan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan