So I got a ticket. A ticket that I fought and won. Here’s how to do it.
I was on my way to work, I jumped on the 6 line headed to downtown, the Clipper reader read “SYSTEM OUT OF ORDER” so I sat down with the intention of retagging it on the way out as this sometimes happens as the system resets. Some MTA officers jumped on at Market/Van Ness and as I explained that the system was down, the officer immediately treated me as guilty and proceeded to ask if other people had the same problem. Here’s what I did that saved me — I tagged my card — to show her that I wasn’t trying to evade fare but that the system was down. Never the less, the officer proceeded to write me a ticket.
So I did the natural thing, protested the ticket in writing, and received a curt letter stating that my ticket was not going to be overturned. Bullshit.
I went into the SF MTA office’s and requested an in-person hearing. The staff was relatively nice and after waiting about 15 minutes my name was called. I went into a closed off room and sat down with a hearing officer who looked at my ticket, typed some things into his computer, and asked me what happened. I proceeded to explain to him the details, he took my clipper card, saw that I had tagged on right BEFORE the officer wrote my ticket, and said, “well, I guess we can’t really give you a ticket if you already tagged on, can we?”
I would say that from my experience, explaining your situation calmly in an easy to understand approach usually gets you closer to your goal and the hearing officers seem to be there to help.
So, here’s what you need to do if you get an unfair ticket:
Always tag if you can (obviously). If the reader doesn’t work, try tagging again.
If you get stuck with a rude and aggressive SF MTA officer, tag on, and proceed to buy yourself time.
Receive your ticket in the mail, go into the office in the middle of the day (the line is much better) and ask for a hearing. Then lay out your story.
Wait a few weeks while the SF MTA sends you a reimbursement check.
You should be good to go!
Another good resource I found over the course of this dilemma was this gal:
Best of luck!!