Nelson Bamford has been patient through the MBTA delays, as well as Boston's traffic and snow-jammed streets. But the last straw came when the city refused to pay for his side view mirror even though a neighbor insists he saw a plow knock it off.
"It's a shame because I didn't get any help and there's nothing I can do about it," said Bamford.
He's right. There is no appeals process when the city denies a plow damage claim. In a rejection letter, the city told Bamford there was no plow in his Dorchester neighborhood February 2, when his 2008 Scion was hit. So, unless he wanted to sue the city, the Wentworth student was out of luck and out the $240 he paid to fix it.
"I was upset. I was a little bit angry," he said. "Especially if you have a witness and you report it."
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From 2010 to 2014, the city has denied 86 percent of all plow damage claims. So far this year, they've denied more than 25 percent of them, even when residents have witnesses, pictures and partial plate numbers.
"It's not fair," said Debra Patti of East Boston. "They're the ones who damaged my vehicle."
Patti's claim was denied even though she had an eyewitness. The city told her there was no city plow or contractor in the area, and that there was no plow activity at the time.
"What we're doing is looking at GPS data," said Mayor Marty Walsh. "We're going through every single case one at a time."
But necn asked to see that GPS data for plows in Patti's neighborhood at the time. It turns out the city got it wrong. There was a plow on her street, in that same time frame.
"I'm not aware of that, so I'll have to go back and look at that, certainly," said Walsh. "Obviously, we should be very concerned about that."
Walsh insists the city is doing everything possible to hold city and contractor plows accountable.
"We're looking at what trucks were in the area, if we can match it up depending on the marks on the vehicle," said Walsh. "It's really hard to prove, obviously, because of the nature of the accident, but we're doing the best way to can."
After dozens of people had their claims denied, 20 residents told necn no one from the city has reached out to them to talk to their witnesses or to see their vehicles. But they are heartened by what seems to be a change of heart by the mayor. There was no way to appeal the city's decision before, but now the mayor is promising a top to bottom review.
"We will obviously look at appeals the second time around," said Walsh. "We'll say no, send a letter out if it's a no, but I'll make sure that we go back and look at everything again."
The city has now reopened Patti's case. Walsh says if you think your claim has been denied unfairly, you should call the mayor's hotline at (617) 635-4500.