My car was towed right outside of my building. I was parked between two signs that clearly indicate it was a tow zone between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., yet I was ticketed at 7:12 a.m. and my car was towed before 8 a.m., when I came out to move it.

I took photos of the signs and pleaded my case at the impound lot, all to no avail. I’ll go to court if necessary. I’ve never had a parking ticket in this city, as I always pay for parking and pay attention to the signs. Please help!


- Tim Sturm, Chicago, Ill.


Got a consumer problem? The ABC News Fixer may be able to help. Click here to submit your problem online. Letters are edited for length and clarity.

Dear BETH:

The ABC News Fixer sympathizes with your plight. Chicagoans have seen huge increases in parking rates since the meters were privatized in a controversial deal in 2008, and anyone who drives in the Windy City knows the meter enforcers are both aggressive and unforgiving.

But to be ticketed and towed more than an hour before the space expires?

You said someone at the city told you there was another sign farther down the block that said towing commences at 7 a.m.. But your car was parked right between two poles that were clearly labeled as a tow zone from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

We contacted City Hall to explain your problem and show them your photos of the signs. They promised to look into it.

It took about two weeks, but eventually, your parking problem got resolved. The city Treasurer’s Office mailed you a check for $170, the amount you had to pay to get your towed car out of the impound lot. No letter, but you got the check.

As for why you were ticketed in the first place, we tried numerous times to get an answer from the city, with no luck. But you got your money back, so we’ll consider this fixed!

Lots of otherwise careful parkers in cities around the country know the sinking feeling of spotting a bright orange ticket under their windshield wiper or jammed in their car door.

If you get a parking ticket that you believe was issued in error, here are some tips, courtesy of Mike Brockway, author of The Expired Meter blog:

  • Check the ticket carefully. If the facts on the ticket are wrong (incorrect time or date, wrong address, incorrect license plate number or wrong car info), you can contest it on that basis.


  • Examine the parking signs. Do they match the alleged violation? Are the signs visible?


  • Gather evidence. Use your phone or camera to document everything right away. If you have a passenger, ask them to write a witness statement.


  • Stay calm. If you’ve been unfairly ticketed, contest it in a professional manner. Brockway says it’s usually more effective to contest a ticket in person at an administrative hearing than by mail.




And, we’ll add -- don’t lose heart. It is possible to fight City Hall and undo a parking ticket that’s been wrongly issued.

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Stephanie Zimmermann

Most people groan at the thought of spending hours on the phone with a customer service call center, but Stephanie Zimmermann relishes the chance to slice through red tape.

Before joining ABC News, Stephanie untangled consumer problems at the Chicago Sun-Times, where her popular column recovered more than $1.4 million in refunds, credits, and merchandise for consumers in the Windy City.

Stephanie, who lives in Chicago, has also worked at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, and has bachelor's and master's degrees from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. But most of all, Stephanie is a consumer who hates to see anyone else get ripped off.