Letters to the Editor: April 25 – May 1, 2015
Nightmare Trying to Pay City Violation Online
Let me tell you a story about a bureaucratic nightmare.
On a cold, gray day in February, my wife and I received a “Notice of Violation” in the mail for having run a red light. The amount due was $50. I paid the amount online and received an email confirmation that the payment was made.
A week later, I received an email saying my payment was “returned by your bank due to ‘No Account.’ “ Confused, I logged in to the vendor’s website to check the status and found that not only had my payment attempt failed, but my balance had increased from $50 to $85.
I tried a lot of things to understand the fee and get it waived. I called the police department, the Treasurer’s office, and an exasperated customer service representative in Arizona who has never heard of Falls Church City.
In short, I learned that you incur a steep fee if you make an accidental error when entering your bank information online, and you cannot get the fee waived. My total amount due ended up at $89 — almost twice the original payment.
Now, I am a middle class worker who was able to pay this fee despite much gnashing of teeth. For someone who lives on a low income, this is truly a disproportionate penalty.
Here is my idea for how the City of Falls Church can treat this malady. First, in the Notice of Violation form instructions, emphasize that returned online payments (not just returned print checks) will incur a $35 fee. Follow this with a scary, conspicuous warning that this fee will be incurred for honest errors in data entry.
Second, switch to a payment vendor that is capable of handling the following basic tasks: clearly explaining the exact reason for why a payment was returned (saying ‘due to No Account’ is practically useless); and waiving fees from their system when their client — namely, the City of Falls Church — asks for it to be removed due to simple user error.
That might just prevent the nightmare from happening again.
Richard Rabil, Jr.
Confused About Del. Simon’s Comments On Abortion
I was a bit confused by Del. Marcus Simon’s Richmond Report. In this sentence fragment, he referenced “An amendment restoring language authorizing expenditures for abortion services that are necessary to preserve the life of the pregnant woman, provided that every possible measure is taken to preserve the life of the unborn fetus.”
Abortion services that preserve the life of the unborn fetus? Does Marcus Simon know what abortion entails?
Sen. Saslaw is In Touch With My Views
Earlier this month, I watched the League of Women Voters Senate forum to hear from the three candidates. It was surprising and disturbing to hear from another candidate that Senator Dick Saslaw’s views are misaligned with voters in the district. I am a young person and a relative newcomer to Virginia. Since moving to this district a year and a half ago, I have been active in the local Democratic Party and have volunteered on behalf of progressive causes. I am exactly the type of person with whom Senator Saslaw is supposedly “misaligned.” And I am strongly supporting him for reelection.
For as long as I’ve lived in the district, I’ve felt well-represented by Senator Saslaw. I like the way he’s always been able to get things done for us. As long as he’s represented me, he’s been a champion for women’s rights, and for high-quality public education, good jobs, and keeping our community safe from gun violence. Senator Saslaw fought to give teachers a raise and to get 400,000 Virginians healthcare. For more than a year, he has been knocking on doors (including mine) and showing up at community events to meet people and listen to their concerns. And he’s just a decent man, always willing to help with a problem or hear a constituent out. I can assure anyone interested that Senator Saslaw is in touch with my views and those of my neighbors.
Andrew M. Dolan
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