UPDATE Jan. 28, 2020: Global News has been contacted by several Rooco customers reporting concerns with the company. We are investigating and have reached out to Rooco for a response. The company’s phone lines are inactive and its social media sites have been taken down. Global News has also notified Service Alberta and the Better Business Bureau, both of which are looking into this case. In a statement posted on its website later Tuesday, Rooco said it has ceased operations due to “changes to the policies of the Traffic Courts.” Rooco said it has begun sending termination notices to customers.
Getting a traffic ticket stinks. Do you pay it in full just to get it over with or do you try and fight it in court? A new Alberta startup is offering an alternative.
“Rooco is a ticket-sharing app, basically,” co-founder Adam Ashton said. “It gives people the opportunity to pay less for a ticket that they were already going to pay.
“If your ticket was $300, we would offer you 10-15 per cent off that amount. Once that’s taken care of, basically your ticket is uploaded and dealt with within 90 seconds.”
The company assigns an agent to appear in traffic court on behalf of the customer.
“Let’s say we have 10 cases right now going in front of a traffic court. At least one of those cases is either going to be knocked down because it’s an illegitimate ticket or they’ll agree, if you just plead guilty, they’ll take off half the fine,” Ashton explained. “So what we’re doing is we’re taking that one per cent — or that one person out of 10 — who saved let’s say $200 and we’re bringing that to everybody.”
Alberta Justice knows about the company and says people can have an agent or lawyer represent them in traffic court or speak to a first appearance prosecutor on their behalf. However, the department spokesperson stresses “first appearance prosecutors do not automatically reduce traffic ticket fines.
“They make the decision whether or not to reduce a fine based on the specifics of each case,” Scott Sehested said.
Ashton said Rooco.ca can only be used for tickets that have a set fine associated with them, like speeding, parking or distracted driving tickets. He said they’re seeing a lot of tickets submitted for expired vehicle registration.
“With Alberta right now, there was no notification sent out for vehicle registrations, so that was huge. People are starting to catch on that these tickets are going to be there anyways, so let’s try to pass on some savings to everybody.”
Customers upload a photo of their traffic ticket to the website and answer a few questions. The entire process takes under 90 seconds, Ashton said, adding it’s a good option for time-crunched folks.
“Showing up is sometimes the hardest battle… just getting there. It should be a level playing field for everybody to have the chance to essentially pay a little bit less,” he said.
“So the person who can’t get time off their job, who can’t find a parking space downtown just to pay and maybe deal with the ticket, we’re giving them the opportunity to just upload it to us and we’ll take care of it for them.”
Rooco.ca started in Fort McMurray and is now expanding. It hopes to be available across Alberta by the end of 2018.
“For people who were going to pay anyway, there’s a sense of satisfaction from not paying the courts but by paying a third party app,” Ashton said.
“It kind of takes a little bit of the, ‘you got me this time’ out of it and we’re appreciative we’re able to offer people that.”
Ashton also hopes the service may eventually help the whole traffic court system become simpler to navigate.
“We took a look at just the information that’s available to the general public surrounding traffic tickets and it’s not a how-to guide. It’s basically where to go and that’s about it. There’s a lack of information out there. Our job is not to get that information out there but we do want to shed some light a little bit on some advocacy for those people.
“If you don’t think you deserve the ticket, you should fight it. If you do want pay the ticket and get it over with, that’s Rooco.ca.”
For more information from the Provincial Court of Alberta on traffic court proceedings and tickets, call 1-855-738-4747.
To set a vehicle registration renewal reminder, ask your local registry agent AMA, or sign up online at eservices.alberta.ca.
WATCH BELOW (May 31, 2018): Emily Mertz explains how a “ticket-sharing app” works and how it can help people who have traffic fines they need to pay.