The system has a flaw!
The parking system is mapped out into sections. And strictly enforced.
There are hotspots for tickets and the ticket centre knows exactly where they are located.
Their employees circle these streets and most certainly will give you a lovely 6000 HUF ticket in a wee plastic bag pinned under your windshield wiper!
So there we were at Matinee Coffeeshop, Budapest, Benczúr u. 2, 1068, and we parked on Felsőerdősor utca right across from the cafe to drop Daniel off his pajamas for a sleepover with our friends who live near there.
Alfonz and I saw the parking meter and instantly tapped in the large four digit number to start the automated parking. It is tied to an application on our phone. Coming to Pest often, we know the system well.
When we came back from having a coffee, sure enough a parking ticket. So we walked across Andras utca and walked to the parking office down Bajnok utca and showed the man that we did in fact pay for our parking.
He then told us that yes he can see that, but that we were trying to save 50 HUF per hour by using the parking meter on the wrong side of the road. Alfonz assured them that it wasn’t the case. He told them that he looked up and plugged in the meter code from his car. It was literally 5 metres away.
Apparently on the parking meter itself, low on the bottom, is a 8×10 piece of laminated paper with the guide to the boundaries of the parking areas warning people that this is the wrong machine. Not the first time this has happened I am sure!
The road where we parked was the cut off for the district. One side was for one parking meter and the other for the other parking meter.
I said please honestly we were dropping off a bag for our son, and are continuing to Vaci utca to shop and have lunch. We are familiar with the regulations and have never tried to save money or not pay. Please reverse the ticket.
He said no, it is clearly written on the form stuck to the machine itself. It is your problem.
I said for 50 forint the equivalent of 16 centimes, or 50 cents we would risk a parking ticket, honestly what kind of people do you think we are but he wouldn’t budge. His voice became strained and his face went bright red. He must have the worst job in the entire world.
But apparently this happens all day long. He assumed we were tourists, and wouldn’t even consider reversing the ticket. A thin, red faced weaselly little man got angry when I said look you can change this for us. He said that we can email the ticket in and appeal, it would take a few days. I said are you kidding me, we came directly here to solve this, we are from Budapest, live in Solymar. We are not trying to scam anyone.
I then told him this is exactly what tourists and the world say about Hungary, that it is still communist regime and that the system is flawed at its core. We obviously tried to pay the correct amount for parking, and further more, if we didn’t pay at all, it would have been the same amount! That is bureaucracy at its finest, and truly unfair!
Here is the example!
Who cares about 50 HUF, no one, but they are waiting for you to make a mistake and wham you with a ticket. Instead of clearly marking the parking spot itself with the four digit code in the problem areas, making sure the parker knows exactly where to pay, solving the issue to never happen again, they would much rather rake in the money from parking! So visitors beware!
RECAP of my issues
- The ticket machine we were supposed to use, was 100 meters away, down the road, not even visible to where we parked
- The other was right there, not 5 meters away, clearly marked with the four digit code
- The note warning people was in Hungarian and so low on the parking pole itself that even upon examination you cannot see it
- The note is on the backside of the machine not visible when reading the meter itself
- And lastly, it wasn’t as if we parked there long, 20 minutes, but the ticket was already on the car not 5 minutes after parking, which makes me think, they walk the zones knowing that this mistake would be made over and over again
- This is a cash cow for the government of Hungary!
For tourists visiting Budapest, make sure that you are paying for parking in the correct zone. Even if you have foreign plates they will put a lock on your wheel, the clamp, and even tow your car!
Sometimes if you call them directly, for cash they will unlock your wheel before issuing the ticket officially, which has happened to us before when we had French plates. Nazis! At that time we felt we were targeted as our parking had just run out 5 minutes before. They were surely waiting!
Just to know, you must double check the parking meter itself. It will be in Hungarian but there is a map on the side with clear markings to double check. It is small, but it is there!
6000 HUF equals 20€ very expensive parking in Budapest for 20 minutes!!! The parking people are completely unreasonable, so when you go to their office, try to negotiate, but most certainly just pay the ticket or it goes up to nearly double the next week.
I have seen foreign cars targeted and booted near our apartment just as ours was, so BEWARE!