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Parkmobile Backs Down From Blaming Dick Durbin for Parking Fee

Want to get a Senator riled? Blame him for high parking fees.

Pay-by-phone outfit Parkmobile last week blamed Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) for the 13-cent increase in D.C.’s mobile parking meter fees. This didn’t sit too well with Durbin, whose face was adorning parking meters on a sticker that said “Durbin Tax” throughout the nation’s capital. And in an email sent to subscribers this afternoon, Parkmobile backed down.

It started when Parkmobile sent an email Oct. 23 that said, “Beginning October 29th, transaction fees in DC will increase from $0.32 to $0.45 due to increased costs triggered by recent federal legislative reform enacted by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act’s Durbin Amendment.”

The parking meter price hike is not Durbin’s fault, says Parkmobile.

In a response to Parkmobile’s initial email, Durbin shot off a letter to Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray and Parkmobile CEO Albert Bogaard informing them that the fee increase cannot be blamed on his amendment.

“The decision whether or not to increase transaction swipe fees rests with ‘Visa’ and ‘Master Card’ alone,” Durbin said in the Oct. 26 missive. “The Durbin Amendment was crafted to put a limit on exactly the type of unreasonable swipe fees you lament.”

That was apparently enough to trigger Parkmobile’s retraction to its “valued members.”

Park Mobile, Inc. email sent Nov. 1.

“Last week in a press release and email … the company made an overly simplistic statement about the underlying cause of increasing card transaction fees. In an attempt to explain why costs have increased the company left the potentially confusing impression that Federal legislation is to blame,” Laurens Eckelboom, Parkmobile’s vice president of marketing and channels wrote in the mea culpa email.

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