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PT the Auditor Let Them Out! Free of Charge!

As parking becomes more complex and we begin to mar- ket our garages in different ways, we add products that

we can sell to potential customers. One of my clients provides debit or value cards. These are cards with actual money on them. The garage

operator adds money to the card when it reaches a certain amount, and in some cases, the cardholder can add value online. The benefit to the cardholder is that they pay for only the

amount of parking they use (say they park just once or twice a week), and the garage gets the benefit of the “float” or value that remains on the cards in circulation. It’s a win-win. (In some systems, a credit card is kept on file for these debit

or value cards and that credit card is charged when the transac- tion is complete.) These debit cards typically work like this. When a person

enters the parking lot, the revenue control system remembers their entry time. When they exit, the system computes the fee based on the entry time and deducts that amount from the card’s balance. In most systems, these cards can be charged at the same rate

as a normal daily parker, or at a different rate depending on the deal the operator made with the cardholder. If they want to attract these parkers, the operator may offer debit cards at a low- er rate than a regular pay-as-you-go daily. So far, so good. The money is deducted when the card exits. If there is some issue at exit (the reader doesn’t work, the card doesn’t work, the

gate doesn’t work, etc.) and the attendant on duty lets the driver out manually, the card never gets charged. Since most debit cards “look” like

standard monthly cards, the attendant simply re-synchs the card to keep it in the correct anti-passback status. No money is charged or debited from the card file or the stored value on the card. The customer parked for free. At one of my locations, the client has fewer than 100 debit

cards. An audit of usage for 2011 revealed a loss of more than $7,300 on debit cards improperly processed. In this system, both monthly accounts and debit cards are set

into an account. The account determines what the monthly rate is, or if a debit card, what the transient rate is. As an example, an early bird rate or night rate may be avail-

able only if a person has a “frequent parker card.” Depending on the deals in place, there are different rates based on volume of use, areas parked and time of day parked. This is true for both monthly and debit cards. Not a single month goes by that I do not find an error in how

the cards were set up in the system that enabled the customer to pay a lesser amount than what they should have paid. This is due to both the quality of the person doing the account setup and their attention or lack of attention to the details. Sometimes good

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