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Blogs / Influence

Parkmobile Apologizes After Durbin Complains

November 1, 2012
Less than a week after Sen. Dick Durbin lashed Parkmobile for linking a fee increase to legislation the Illinois Democrat sponsored, the firm apologized today and said it left a "potentially confusing impression" with customers. 

"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. The company apologizes for any confusion caused by this statement," wrote Parkmobile's Laurens Eckelboom in an email to customers. 

A spokesman for Durbin had no comment. And Parkmobile, whose app and services let members pay parking meters remotely, did not return a request seeking comment.

But some swipe-fee watchers say Parkmobile is trying to have it both ways.

"It would have been very easy if they had a clear point of view [to say] we were wrong. Or it didn't cause us to raise rates. ...They chose words that looked like they were retracting but weren't. They were trying to butter both sides of their bread. They were trying to make Durbin calm down while not retracting what they said," said Trish Wexler, spokeswoman for the Electronic Payments Coalition, which represents banks, credit unions and payment networks such as Visa and MasterCard.

The Durbin-Parkmobile feud began after the company told its D.C. customers that transaction fees would be going up from 32 cents to 45 cents because of a provision Durbin inserted into Wall Street Reform legislation that limits the fees credit card companies can charge retailers.

Last week, Eckelboom said that Parkmobile's margins shrank after the measure went into effect because credit card companies, which could no longer charge higher transaction fees on bigger-ticket items because of the law, increased Parkmobile's rates. 

Durbin then wrote a letter to Parkmobile's CEO, saying it was inaccurate to blame the law and that the real culprits were the credit card companies. 
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