EMERALD ISLE — Motorists who parked in Emerald Isle’s two major beach access parking lots May 30 or May 31 have received or will receive a full refund as the result of a software glitch that resulted in overcharges.
Emerald Isle Town Manager Matt Zapp said the glitch, which charged beachgoers $6 per hour instead of $4 per hour, affected two of five payment kiosks at the Eastern and Western ocean regional access lots.
As a result of the error, NCParking, which manages the lots,will issue refunds totaling $10,211.50.
Mr. Zapp said the company determined 209 customers were charged the higher rate, but the company and the town wanted to alleviate any possibility the analysis overlooked anyone who may have been overcharged.
There were 24 transactions totaling $270 at the affected kiosks May 30, and 185 transactions, totaling $3,012, at the stations May 31. The company paid $3,282 to those who were directly affected by the glitch, and nearly $7,000 to those who most likely weren’t.
“NCParking has taken full responsibility for the parking issue,” Mr. Zapp said in an email. He added that the company has said the refunds will not come out of the town’s share of the revenue from parking in the lots.
Under the management contract, NCParking guarantees the town $120,000 in annual revenue from paid parking. The company is to receive 50% of the revenue collected beyond that.
At least one of the customers – Dwight Holmes of Carteret County – told the News-Times he had been charged $12 instead of $8 for a two-hour stay at the WORA and hadn’t expected to get his whole amount refunded, just the $4 overage.
Mr. Zapp said it could take time for refunds to show up on customers’ bank statements, depending on the type of credit or debit card each customer used. Mr. Holmes got his full $12 refund Friday.
The town manager said NCParking officials have assured him they’ve taken steps to keep the glitch from happening again.
The $4-per-hour rate is the maximum the system is supposed to be charged at both accesses. The meters run from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day during tourism season and on holiday and event weekends. At other times, hourly rates are $2 and $3.
The system went into effect April 1 and replaced the town’s flat fee of $10 per day. That system was in effect Friday, Saturday and Sunday and on holidays during the tourism season.
Although there has been speculation the new system would decrease use of the lots, in part because the $16 maximum for all-day parking, Mr. Zapp said that didn’t appear to be the case.
“The 2021 attendance at the WORA and EORA parking lots was comparable to 2020,” he said of a Memorial Day weekend, year-over-year comparison.
The town went to the system in part because it had become difficult to hire and retain parking to manage the lots.
NCParking hires its own employees, called “ambassadors,” to help customers with the parking process. The system doesn’t take cash.
Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email email@example.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.