Monthly Archives: August 2008

A Friendly Reminder From Ticketmaster: Tomorrow Is September 1…

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Got a nice note from our buddy Ticketmaster.

He reminds anyone with license plate stickers that expire August 2008 (08/08), they will be ticketed beginning today.

But not by him or any of the other Parking Enforcement Aides (PEA), they have the day off. But there will be cops on patrol, who will be out and about and pissed off they have to work on a holiday.

So get your new ’09 stickers on your plates ASAP! Or risk getting a ticket.

Local Blogger Re-Launches Red Light Camera Website

My new friend AKH, has re-launched or, perhaps, more accurately, revamped her red light camera website.

AKH got a red light camera ticket a while back and decided to get a bit of revenge on the city by informing as many people as possible about where these red light intersections are.

Like they say, “Hell has no fury like a woman scorned.” Or in this case, burned by a red light camera.

In fact, at least currently, AKH’s site has 115 locations listed while the official city of Chicago website listing red light cameras only shows 112 and has not been updated since August 4.

AKH also has a map and map database of all the Chicago red light cameras hosted at her site as well.

If anyone sees a new red light camera up or being installed that is not on the allegedly official list, shoot both AKH at Chicag0Resident@aol.com and The Geek at info@theexpiredmeter.com so we can can both keep readers up to date.

Thanks again AKH. Keep up the great work.

New Blog – Same Great Info

I’ve decided to close down my old blog and use this one for the sole purpose of informing people of the latest Chicago Red Light Camera Updates. The list of the intersections and maps of all of the intersections are still on the same site, but now we have a different blog to talk about them.

If you would like a copy of the Microsoft MapPoint file or if you would like me to map out your route to work to see which red light camera intersections you come across each day, please send me an email, Chicag0Resident@aol.com (that’s Chicag0 with a zero not the letter o).

Ask The Parking Ticket Geek – 8/29/08

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Dear Parking Ticket Geek,

I currently share a Hertz rental car with a colleague from work. She and I both received parking tickets in June 2008 for $60. Hers was on 6/13/08, mine was 6/27/08.

The Administrative Officer denied my contestation and I went to pay the ticket; however I incorrectly paid for the one on 6/13/08. How likely will I be to get the City to cancel the payment I made? My
colleague claims that she sent in an appeal for the 6/13/08 ticket but never heard back. I was NOT driving the rental car the time it was incurred.

Please advise. Thank you,

Paid for the Wrong Ticket

Dear Paid for the Wrong Ticket,

This was a new situation for me, so I asked the very helpful Ed Walsh, spokesperson from the Dept. of Revenue, what he would advise.

“Motorists can call 312.744.PARK, and request their payment be moved to the ticket they intended to pay,” explained Mr. Walsh. “Depending on the timing of the payment, they may still have a right to a hearing on the ticket they paid by mistake. However, if the ticket paid by mistake was already in a status not allowing hearing rights when payment was remitted, a hearing will not be authorized.”

Good advice. I would get on the phone right away. Make sure you talk to a live operator, explain the situation and see what they can do for you. Make sure you take down their name and operator number so you can reference your conversation if you should have any further problems in the future.

Very truly yours,

The Parking Ticket Geek

Dear Meter Geek:

2 tickets for same violation on 2 consecutive days. What to do?

Violation ordinance number on both tickets the same; (9-64-190}. One at 5:15 p.m., the other at 8:30 p.m. both have same badge number on the tickets. I thing this cop is picking on me?

There is no meter number on either ticket so I am assuming that the ticket was written for spending too much time at that meter.

I have a current handicap placard on display on my winshield.

How can I beat this?

Ira

Ira-

Whomever is writing these tickets is just plain stupid.

You can beat this two different ways.

First, it’s not a proper violation if, because it’s a meter violation, there is no meter number listed. A meter number MUST be listed on the ticket.

Second, your handicapped placard should give you parking carte blanche..

Check out the law.

9-64-010 Applicability – Exemptions

(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of the traffic code, any motor vehicle bearing handicapped or disabled veterans state registration plates or a handicapped parking decal or device issued pursuant to Section 3-616 or 11-1301.2 of the Illinois Vehicle Code…is hereby exempt from the payment of parking meter fees and exempt from any ordinance or regulation which imposes a time limitation for parking…The exemption granted under this subsection shall apply only when the motor vehicle is operated by or under the personal direction of the person for whom the handicapped or disabled veteran registration plates or handicapped parking decal or device was issued.

Dude! You are golden!

Anyone with a handicapped placard can park at a meter without paying and for as long as you want.

When you contest this, first, point out there is no meter number listed.

Then, make sure you cite the law above to the hearing officer in your letter or in person, provide a photo(s) of the handicapped placard hanging from your rearview mirror, provide a copy of your actual handicapped placard (or bring the actual placard to the hearing if you like) and if you have it, produce copies of any other documentation that demonstrates your handicapped status.

This should be a sure-fire winner.

Very truly yours,

The Parking Ticket Geek

Hi Parking Ticket Geek,

I recently moved here from Arizona, where of course my car had tinted front windows (if it didn’t the passengers inside would bake in the AZ sun, but i digress)…

I have received 2 “parking” tickets now for having tinted windows, which the “meter maid” has hand written on the ticket. Each ticket is for $50.00.

Maybe my logic is messed up, but can I actually get a ticket for having a PARKED car with tinted windows? I mean, if I had a busted up tail light, but was not actually driving a car they would not give a ticket for that, right? Although I have been driving with the tint on my windows, what if I was parking the car and avoiding driving it until I had the time/money to remove the tint?

I am so frustrated with this, and while I am not surprised they would just make something up, I think this is very unfair. What should I do?

Lacey

Dear Lacey-

I have been getting a lot of questions about tinted windows recently. I have no idea why. Perhaps cops are writing more of these violations for some reason.

Now, in our subsequent e-mails, you tell me you bought your car from a dealer and that it came with factory glass. You also tell me you can see inside the car with no problem.

If your car has factory glass, it is very unlikely it is tinted. It may be lightly smoked, but tinted implies a film was applied to the glass.

I would encourage you to take photos with someone inside to show that you can plainly see through the glass, and present those photos at your hearing or in your letter.

I would also explain that you made no modifications to the glass and you bought it with the factory installed glass.

Also, you indicated to me that you received the tickets at night. Here’s a question to bring up in your hearing. How the hell can you tell if glass is tinted when it’s dark outside? I would guess you can’t.

The reason this violation sucks so much is there is no objective way to measure tint. Do the cops carry a tint meter around with them to check to see if the glass is tinted or not? I’m sure they don’t.

If you did have your glass tinted. I would encourage you to remove it. It costs between $20-$50 to have tint removed from your front driver and front passenger windows.

Very truly yours,

The Parking Ticket Geek

If you have a question for The Parking Ticket Geek, please e-mail the Geek at: askthegeek@theexpiredmeter.com

ParkMagic Units Delayed

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This site has been reporting since July that another 2000 ParkMagic in-car meters would be available to Chicago drivers in August.

But, as you can see by the date, it’s already the end of the month and so far, no new units.

So when I called ParkMagic Chicago Wednesday afternoon, they went back to sounding like Sgt. Schultz on Hogan’s Hero’s. “I know nothing! Nothing!.”

But when I pressed the young woman saying that my numerous calls had affirmed that new units were forthcoming, she admitted that these units were supposed to be in, but are now delayed with no explanation and no firm date.

I promise, I will look into this.

Rev. Spork Peeved At Daley’s Two-Ticket Boot Plan

The most Rev. Spork, of The Divine Church of the Curmudgeon has a few choice words for Mayor Daley’s two-ticket boot plan.

It sounds like the Rev. Spork was woke up on the wrong side of the bed!

But, I really can’t blame him, nor can I disagree with his strong views.

Right on Rev. Spork! See you on Sunday morning.

Dickhead Daley, traffic cop

Since I moved to Chicago in 2001, our mayor has:

  • wrecked an airport;
  • overseen the raising of the sales tax to the highest level in the country;(and yes, I know this was Toad Stoger’s work, and a county issue rather than a city issue, but the Dickhead could’ve at least protested.)
  • overseen the jacking up of property taxes;
  • gradually turned downtown Chicago into a forest of luxury condos;
  • ruined Soldier Field;
  • now wants to make it “two strikes and you’re out” for traffic violators. Two parking tickets, dude, and you get the boot. (Remember folks, in 2001 it was five traffic violations.)

Sure, we all would like safer streets, and Chicago has always struck me as “The City Where Red Lights are Merely a Recommendation.” But like all Dickhead’s little plans, the new booting recommendations effect mostly those least able to pay.

Let’s just say you got a couple of parking tickets (of course, as many Chicago drivers are painfully aware, traffic enforcement in Chicago is a study in capriciousness), and under the new rules, you’re booted. Let’s say you were in Wisconsin for a vacation, so you were away for a week. You come back home, and your car is not merely booted, but gone. You make the necessary calls, and you find out this: Friday: car booted. Price for de-booting: $60 Saturday: car towed after 24 hours. Towing fee: $150 Sunday-Friday: $10/day for 1st five days, $35/day after that. Fee: $85 Total: $295.

And that doesn’t even include the original parking tickets. And this assumes your car hasn’t vanished into the ether, a not-uncommon fate for Chicago drivers. Most of us can pay off that fine with some annoyance but little difficulty; we learn our lesson and go on with our lives. But for poorer folks, coughing up four hundred, five hundred dollars based on a couple of traffic violations means they may never see their vehicle again. Some people, upon seeing their cars booted and despairing of ever getting their car back, might do what some homeowners have done in the wake of the housing collapse: trash their own property, take everything remotely valuable, and leave a useless shell in their wake. Given the state of the economy, the parts of the car may be more valuable than the car itself.

But that’s old hat for the Dickhead. He loves Chicago, but only his own vision of the city. And that vision is disturbed by the sight of poor or working-class citizens trying to make a living here. So down comes affordable housing, up comes seven-digit condos. Rich people can afford a 10.25% percent sales tax, rapidly escalating property taxes, a crappy mass transit system, and a booted Hummer or two. Poor people can’t, and in Dickhead’s mind, if they can’t afford it, they can move to the ‘burbs. After all, we’re not his kind.

 

 

SIGN THE PETITION!!!

Say NO! To Daley’s Two Ticket Boot Plan!!!

 

City’s New Ticketing Unit Producing Crappy Photos?

Recently, a reader received two tickets for not having a city sticker.

While we were discussing by e-mail, strategies for fighting her ticket (she wasn’t a Chicago resident), she sent me copies of the photos the city provided her to prove she was in violation.

The city recently issued all the PEAs these brand new, top of the line AutoCITE handheld computer ticketing units made by Duncan Industries of Milwaukee, WI. The new AutoCITEs, allow the PEAs to provide photographic evidence to back up certain citations.

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Both photos were fuzzy. One, just a blur of color and in the other, you could make out a blurred image of a Chicago city sticker but really could not decipher the sticker’s unique number that may prove or disprove whether it was the motorist’s vehicle or not.

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The Department of Revenue recently purchased 140 of these units for $2 million and began using the camera feature of these units to start photographically documenting motorists, who are in violation of failure to display a city sticker, missing or improper display of front license plate, residential permit parking violations and expired license plates.

I had to get an expert’s opinion on this issue, so of course I e-mailed the photos to Ticketmaster to get his thoughts.

“The first photo sucks the big one,” says Ticketmaster. “The 2nd photo looks about right. There are only 4 violations that require photos.”

According to Ticketmaster, here are the guidelines the PEA’s are supposed to follow when photographing the four violations in questions.

1. City Sticker: 2 photos 1-whole vehicle taken from angled front, 1 close up of
windshield and or sticker.
2. Residential Parking: 2 photos 1-whole vehicle taken from angled front, 1 close up
of windshield and or sticker.
3, Expired plates: 2 photos 1 of the front plate and one of the rear plate showing
the sticker
4. Missing/Improper display of front plate. 1 photo angled shot of whole vehicle
showing the front.

Ticketmaster says the PEA’s did get some training on the new AutoCITE’s.

“The PEAs received about 2-3 hours of a crash course training,” explained Ticketmaster. “The actual photography part was about 30-40 minutes.”

“Now to be fair to the PEA’s,” Ticketmaster continued. “How things are done in a classroom setting and how it actually translates into practical usage are two very different things. This is very new technology to us and we are still getting the hang of it. We are slowing but surely refining our methods so that sooner or later our photos could grace the cover of Time magazine. It should also be noted, that management is still working the kinks out of the system and taking feedback from the PEAs on how to make it better. Also, they are monitoring the photos closely and are constantly reminding us how to take the proper photo.”

“Part of the purpose showing the stickers and taking the photo , is not so much
to link a sticker which does help, to a particular car, but we want to show the
administrative hearing officers what we see. Hence the 2 photos and using our
comment section on the AutoCITE.”

These are all good points on Ticketmaster’s part.

But to my (admittedly ticket-warped) mind, photos of this poor quality may possibly weaken the validity of the ticket. In my opinion, if the city is holding the citizen to a high standard with photography on this particular violation, shouldn’t the city be held to a high standard as far as decent photographic documentation? I mean, those photos above really do suck.
And please realize, there is nothing in the municipal code on any of the above violations that require the city provide photographic evidence.

However, and this is completely speculative on my part, that if you received a ticket with photos that were of that quality, and if the circumstances surrounding your ticket were just right, you could make a decent argument before a hearing officer that the ticket was not legitimate or the photograph is not of your vehicle or the photo is a blurry mess that shows evidence of squat, etc.

This strategy might work with two of the four violations: improper front plate display and/or residential permit parking. With city sticker and expired plate violations, the hearing officer can use their computer to look up and verify those violations with the city and state databases.

Again, this is all completely theoretical on my part and I’ve never tried it nor heard of anyone else using this strategy. But under the right circumstances it might work to get a few tickets dismissed.

Ticketmaster had a contrary opinion to mine.

“The other part of your question in regards to standards and whether not the ticket is weakened/stregthened is thought provoking,” said Ticketmaster. “My thoughts are no. It does not weaken the ticket at all. While it would be great for the photos to be perfect, they will at the very least A.) eliminate the argument that the vehicle wasn’t there. B.) that the violation did occur.”

“Without the photo’s it is the person’s word vs our own word. One thing both
AutoCITEs have in common is the fact that it does allow us to enter in comments and give greater detail. Combine that with the photographic proof and I envision even a greater number of tickets being sustained. I will say this, people have the right to contest the ticket, excercise that right. However before you do, go online and check out the photos. They may save you some time and aggravation of going thru a hearing.”

Point well taken Ticketmaster. Thanks.

And, to be fair, I have seen some decent photos generated by an AutoCITE that was sent by another reader. So I’m not saying ALL these photos are of poor quality.

Here’s an example.

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Although you cannot read the full license plate number on this photo, the other two photos had a pretty good shot of the improperly displayed front plate.

The Expired Meter Debuts On Examiner.com

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This website has found another distribution channel for the asinine ravings of a parking ticket obsessed moron.

It’s called Examiner Chicago.

It’s a local news website that utilizes local writers and bloggers for the bulk of it’s content.

We’re proud to be associated with many, many talented writers on Chicago’s passing scene.

We have no idea why they want a lunatic like The Parking Ticket Geek contaminating their high quality product. But, we’ll take it for the very kind compliment it is.

Here’s The Parking Ticket Geek’s first contribution to Examiner Chicago.

Briefly Booted Blogger Bitches Boots Are Bad

What the boot!?

While checking out the first official day of The Huffington Post Chicago the other day, I literally tripped over local writer Leslie Goldman’s most recent posting.

Ms. Goldman waxes quite humorously about her recent run-in with the city’s boot crews. It’s funny and sad, all at the same time.

Bummer.

Although, just to clarify, I believe when she initially discussing booting and towing, she is talking about the private booting and towing in a notorious Lincoln Park parking lot, while her boot experience IS with the city. Just keep that in mind.

I Got The Boot

By Leslie Goldman

I used to write from a Caribou Coffee located in a strip mall that was notorious for booting cars. Despite signs on the doors of every shop in site screaming “Do not park in the middle of the lot – YOU WILL BE BOOTED!”, people would, almost purposefully, avoid the normal, designated spots and aim for the smack-dab-middle. The limo driver who ran in for a Subway foot-long; the mom-of-two who needed to fax something at Kinkos. I’d watch from my window “office” as a tow truck swung wildly from the liquor store across the street and, in an instant, either boot or tow the car. For a while my innate sense of good and hatred of The Man prompted me to get up and warn those who entered Caribou. I even saved a few of them from bootdom. But a girl’s gotta work and I couldn’t wear my Anti Towing Cape all the time. It was amazing, the swiftness and, at the same time, the painful slowness with which it all happened — in the 10 seconds it took someone to lock their door and turn towards Ace Hardware, their automobile was gone or locked down, like dropping a bottle of nail polish remover on your hardwood floors and screaming, slow-mo, “Noooooo—”. Splash.

My trusty Mercury never got towed, as I parked within the dotted lines. I lived a life of smug bootlessness.

Until last week.

I had driven to my cousin’s to say hello and fed the meter two quarters. Plenty of time. He even walked me back to my car after 55 minutes to make sure I didn’t get a ticket. But as we rounded the corner, our laughter fell silent as our eyes fixed upon that hideous monstrosity of Chicago parking enforcement known as … the Denver Boot.

What was it doing on my car? I still had two minutes left! I shrieked like a little girl who just had her doll’s head popped off my the neighborhood bully and ran over to find a giant, bumper sticker-like notice practically hot glue-gunned to my window. Too many unpaid parking tickets. I had to go to Horrible Government Office X, Y or Z — in person, right now — or risk towing and additional fees.

As I cried into my sportsbra, my cousin called the police, who informed him I had … wait for it … $1300 in unpaid parking tickets. Yes. Actually, they were my husband’s tickets, but he had appealed them all — sometimes he even got out of them — so we thought we were safe. No, the operator informed us, we most certainly were not. And now we owed an additional $60 for boot removal.

Chicago law states that after three unpaid parking tickets, you are boot-eligible. Compounding matters, under a brand new revenue-generating plan introduced by Mayor Daley, motorists with only two delinquent parking or red-light tickets will soon face my fate. Da Boot. In my case, the shoes fit, and now I was wearing one. And it was the worst shoe ever — ugly, painful, clunky, debilitating, hobbling and very out of fashion.

Paying those tickets was great fun. I waited in line with about 30 other Chicagoans who had been snagged that same day. Many of us texted or conducted business in lines; others tried to placate their kids with vending machine snacks or simply sulked. I was informed of a payment plan option but I knew a monthly reminder would simply bring back this horrid memory, so I paid in full. (Hey, at least I get United miles!) After settling my — our — gigantic tab, I was told the boot would be removed sometime before 10pm that night.

It was 1pm.

“For $1300, you can’t send someone now?” I snapped/pleaded through the glass partition.

The woman did not look amused. She waved me away with a hand that said, “Girl, please. We don’t owe you a damn thing.” It was a wave reserved for scofflaws; drivers who think they can escape the law with eloquent, strongly-defended letters about broken meters, tree-obscured No Parking signs and too-long but very important doctor’s appointments. It was a wave that, in one swoop, took my rent money, my dignity, my hope that karma would circle back ’round from when I saved those Caribou Coffee customers.

You think you can escape The Boot?

You can’t.

No one can.

SIGN THE PETITION!!!

Say NO! To Daley’s Two Ticket Boot Plan!!!

 

The Geek Has Fun On WGN Radio

I had a lot of fun Sunday night on Nick Digilio’s late night show on WGN Radio.

Nick’s Producer Andy Hermann, was kind enough to invite me down to the WGN studios to prattle on about the parking ticket nonsense that erupts from my mouth.

Nick was super-cool and had me on for the full hour from 11 PM to midnight. They let me answer a few questions from callers and let me talk about the Stop The Boot Petition.

Honestly, I was a bit nervous as I’ve been a long-time fan of the Nick D. show, so it was a real honor to be on the show.

I was actually very humbled by Andy and Nick’s generosity in letting me spend an hour on the air with the two of them.

Thanks again guys.

Nick’s show airs Fridays from 11 PM – 2 AM, Saturdays from 8 PM to midnight, and Sundays from 10 PM – 2 AM.

Seriously entertaining radio. Don’t miss it.

Street Beat: Ticketmaster Answers Your Questions

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GEEK EDITOR’S NOTE: Ticketmaster is a Parking Enforcement Aide (PEA) for the city of Chicago Dept. of Revenue. Ticketmaster has been pounding the pavement of the streets of Chicago, and issuing those darn bright orange violations for the past six years. Ticketmaster very graciously, every two weeks, answers questions from readers and share their knowledge and experience within the parking enforcement system to give our readers insight and information to hopefully avoid tickets altogether.

Ticketmaster!

1-Is there an average or range of tickets per day PEA’s are expected to write in an 8 hour shift?

2-How many tickets you normally write in a day/week/month/year?

3-What’s the most number of tickets you’ve written in a shift?

4-Are there some PEA’s who are ticket writing machines who are consistently writing large volume of tickets? If so, what kind of numbers do these PEA’s hit on a daily/weekly/monthly/annual basis?

The Parking Ticket Geek

Parking Geek, that is a lot of questions. Don’t know if I can answer them, but will try.

1. There is is no average. That would be the same as giving a quota.

2. Really can’t answer the question. When I was on the afternoon shift I would do extremely well. Fewer people are out writing tickets from other agencies. Daytime, there is more competition so it is a harder to get the count that I did on the afternoon shift.

3. My personal best 160

4. There are a few ticket writing machines (myself included) and I cannot answer that question as far as the actual count goes, however it does exceed over a hundred daily.

Yo Ticketmaster!!!

Do you ever get hassled by pissed off people you gave tickets to? Did you ever have to fight anyone? Howabout some of your co-workers? Do they ever get beatup? Can you tell us some crazy stories?

Ivory

Hello Ivory,

Congratulations, you are the first person outside of the Parking Geek to ask me a question(s).

Funny thing is, my wife and kids ask me those questions everyday when I get home.

Yes, I have been hassled by citizens that receive tickets. Gratefully it does not happen that often. In fact, usually the most a citizen will do is call me every name in the book using language that I do not care to repeat.

I am sorry, however I will not answer your questions in regards to physical altercations. All I will say is that we are trained to avoid any and all physical confrontation. Besides, let’s look it at from financial aspect for the citizen. If a PEA is assaulted and the police department is notified, more than likely it will become very expensive for them.

Look at it this way. A good co-worker of mine broke it down like this:

You will be arrested, and assuming no priors you will have a $500 bond, your car will be towed and impounded $170 (tow and storage fee – assuming you manage to get it out the same day) At least 2 day’s pay is lost (date of occurrence and your court date), more than likely you will have hired a lawyer (costing even more money) all over a ticket that could have been avoided with watching for signs, spending a quarter, or keeping your car in compliance with the laws.

The PEA, 2-4 hours worth of paperwork and paid overtime.

This is not me trying to be funny. This is a reality check. It’s OK to be upset if you get a ticket. Nobody likes tickets. You want to scream and yell, cool. But keep your hands to yourself.

Ticketmaster’s Stories From The Front

Being on this job for as long as I have, my coworkers and I have plenty of crazy stories to share. In fact, I may make that a weekly contribution.

If you read the Chicago Sun-Times on August 8, 2008 you will have seen a story about a cop suspended over demanding a free cup of coffee from Starbucks. So, it is only appropriate that a Starbucks be involved in this crazy story.

There is a Starbucks located on Chicago & State, and as we all know, Rush Hour is from 7am-9am. This citizen, chose to park their car and go inside to get their morning fix of caffeine. The time 8:00am. Coming across this violator, I was all set to issue this vehicle a $50 rush hour ticket, when the citizen comes running out pleading that they only was going to park for a couple of minutes and had paid for their coffee and was waiting for it.

I politely told them, that I understand them, but they were breaking the law and that they would need to move their car.

The citizen actually stood there and debated whether to move the car or accept the ticket. Thankfully, they chose to move the car and walk back to the Starbucks for their joe. Ironically, a city tow-truck drove by as they pulled off in their vehicle.

In case your wondering, I did extend them the courtesy of moving their vehicle before I wrote them a ticket.

Kind Regards

Ticketmaster

Thanks Ticketmaster–great info as always!

If you have a question for Ticketmaster, please send your questions to either:

askthepea@theexpiredmeter.com or

ticketmaster@theexpiredmeter.com