Ask The Mayor

March 13, 2010 by  
Filed under Ask The Mayor

March 2010

This month’s question:
“Why aren’t the parking meters taking credit cards?”

Due to a recent change in federal credit card regulations (buried in some seemingly innocuous paragraph in one of those 5000 page bills passed by Congress), the means by which credit card data is submitted for processing needed to be changed so to ensure an additional level of security.   Without such an upgrade, the City’s taxpayer’s would be held liable for any losses caused by use of credit card information.  Other communities that use similar technology are being forced to do these upgrades as well. Essentially, if someone’s credit card number was somehow acquired after use of our parking machines and that number was then used to make fraudulent purchases or cash advances, the individual whose number was stolen would of course contact his or her bank or credit card company.  The bank or company, after reimbursing the individual for the fraudulent charges, would then go after the City of Tybee to make up those losses.  So the City Council was forced to spend approximately $40,000 a year for the next three years to upgrade our existing system.  Due to this work, the machines are only taking coins at present.  They will start taking credit cards in the next few weeks once work on them is complete.

We have tried very hard to inform the public about the fact that the machines are only taking coins but it’s impossible to reach everyone. While in this case it can be argued that technology created more problems than it solved, it should be noted that since these machines were installed a few years ago, parking revenue has increased.  McDonald’s did a study about this a few years ago which showed that people are willing to spend slightly more money if it is being charged to a credit card than they are if they are using cash or coins.  This study led to installation of credit card machines at every single McDonald’s franchise.  And this has played out in our case here on Tybee as well.  In any event, this is the reason why the machines aren’t currently accepting credit cards.  Thanks for the great question!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!!
Jason Buelterman

Send questions to “Ask the Mayor,” City of Tybee Island, P.O. Box 2749, Tybee Island, GA 31328, or e-mail them with an “Ask the Mayor” header to buelterman@hotmail.com.

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