No-arm bandit robs man on Fifth Avenue!

No-arm bandit robs man on Fifth Avenue!
Photo by Tom Callan

The city’s “smart meters” aren’t so brainy after all — as one man found on Fifth Avenue last month.

David Ramirez drove to meet a friend for lunch on March 17, parking in front of Aunt Suzie’s Restaurant, near Carroll Street. He popped $1.50 into the meter — good enough for two hours — at 4:20 pm.

But when he checked the receipt, it informed him that his parking spot would “expire” at 4:02 pm — about 18 minutes before he had even rolled up. It also stated, inaccurately, that he only paid 50 cents.

“It was crazy!” he said, explaining it happened a few days after the change back to daylight savings time. “It’s the perfect excuse for a cop to ticket you.”

Other people have gotten duped, too. Drivers reported faulty meters 61 times on Fifth and Seventh avenues between Dean and 16th streets, which adds up to about one complaint call per day.

Ramirez documented the flubbed receipt with a photo, then placed the billet on his dashboard anyway. He ordered the eggplant and escaped without a ticket — but he’s worried the next guy won’t be so lucky.

“Most people don’t even look at their receipts,” he said. “It’s bad!”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Transportation said that muni-meters are programmed to “automatically reflect the correct time” — even when clocks are set backward and forward for daylight savings or standard time.

The agency instructs residents to call 311 to report malfunctioning meters, but added that no complaints had been logged about Ramirez’s dumb meter.

A few days after the incident, The Brooklyn Paper tested the malfunctioning machine ourselves (in the name of slow news days everywhere).

Armed with a dollar, we found the meter was back in commission, which should make drivers like Ramirez happy — at least until it’s time to “fall back” in November.