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Pay your meter via cellphone

A town in Florida has started to allow folks to use their cellphone to pay for parking meters. Full story here.

I think it’s pretty cool and definitely is more efficient than coins–I don’t have to pay for a minute more of a meter than I need. I signed up and didn’t find the process too onerous, though it has some of the harsh, but standard, “we have an option on your first born child” clauses in the Terms and Conditions. Here are some of the choicer terms:

They can change fees anytime they want:

Amendments to Fees. Mint may, in its sole discretion, amend the Mint Fees from time to time. The Customer shall be notified of any such amendments, via e-mail, no less than five (5) business days prior to the date such amendments become effective. Any amendments to Parking Fees are in the discretion of the operator of the Parking Facility and Mint disclaims any responsibility for notifying the Customer of any such amendments.

They can lock you out at any time:

…Mint reserves the right to: amend, suspend or discontinue any aspect of the Service at any time; impose limits on certain features and aspects of the Service; and restrict the Customer’s access to parts or all of the Service without notice.

They can verify your credit:

The Customer hereby authorizes Mint to make such credit, employment and investigative inquiries as deemed appropriate by Mint in connection with the use of the Services and the Credit Card Account.

There’s some ‘Fee Schedule’ referenced to determine how much you’ll pay for the service, but I couldn’t find that. I did find the list of supported parking lots, which hasn’t been updated to include Florida yet. They also have posted their privacy policy, which doesn’t appear too draconian, except for the ubiquitous “we can change this whenever we want, and you have to visit our website periodically to know” clause:

If Mint decides to change this Privacy Policy, changes will be posted on the Website, so that you will always be aware of what personal information is collected, how it is used, and under what circumstances it may be disclosed.

I do think it’s cool that North America is headed in this direction. (Japan has a wider variety of services payable via cell phone, see this flagrant marketing flash presentation for more.) Cell phones are an easy alternative to credit cards, which charger merchants a percentage of the cost as well as a fixed fee (though the card companies still get their pound of flesh from Mint, don’t you worry).