BARBERTON: She was ready to send a check for $18.75.
Then Rhonda Gaebelein, a courier from Stow, had second thoughts about a letter she received this month from Capital Recovery Systems Inc., a collections agency in Columbus.
Her instincts — confirmed by Barberton's clerk of courts — proved to be correct.
Capital Recovery Systems collects delinquent accounts for governmental clients — primarily state, county and local courts — in Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Florida, its Web site says.
Gaebelein said the letter notified her that she owed on a parking ticket from Barberton Municipal Court and that if she did not pay the $18.75 fine within 30 days, there would be serious consequences.
''But then I got to thinking about it,'' Gaebelein said, ''and it was like, there was no way I got a parking ticket in Barberton — any time in the last 10 years, you know?''
So she called the collection agency, she said, and was told there had been a huge mistake.
The man who took her call said the agency had received about 5,900 names for unpaid fines from the Barberton court and they were all mistakes, Gaebelein said.
''He told me to just throw the letter away and to disregard it and that they were sorry,'' she said.
The more she thought about it, however, the more another thought occurred to her.
''I just wondered how many people will be paying the $18.75 rather than checking into it,'' Gaebelein said.
If anyone does, they will get a refund, Barberton Clerk of Courts Andrew J. Padrutt said Monday.
Padrutt confirmed Gaebelein's account and said there, indeed, had been a clerical mistake.
''What had occurred,'' Padrutt said, ''was a technical error on the part of our software provider. It had caused previously voided parking tickets — and this only affected parking tickets — to be sent to our collection agency.''
There had been a long-standing court policy whereby parking tickets that had not been paid for more than six months would be voided, Padrutt said.
''And so that practice has been stopped — as of this past spring. The thought was we were kind of rewarding the people who throw their tickets away and punishing the ones who pay promptly,'' he said.
Padrutt said his office received about two dozen calls from others who received the letter from the collection agency. He said the computer system error has been corrected and that letters will be going out within the next day or so to everybody affected by the glitch.
''It will assure them that they do not owe on those voided tickets, but in the future, they will have to pay on any parking tickets they may receive,'' Padrutt said.
If anyone got the letter and paid the fine, the court will refund the money, he said.
Those wishing more information about the glitch should call 330-861-7191, Padrutt said.
''We're not very pleased with the software provider at this moment,'' he said, ''but it all has been resolved.''
Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or firstname.lastname@example.org.