Detained in a parking lot

Detained in a parking lot

This is a discussion on Detained in a parking lot within the Home (And Away From Home) Defense Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Yesterday I had an incident that has really been leaving me questioning both the legality of a situation as well as the safety and defensive ...

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Thread: Detained in a parking lot

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    Distinguished Member Array noway2's Avatar
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    Detained in a parking lot

    Yesterday I had an incident that has really been leaving me questioning both the legality of a situation as well as the safety and defensive aspects of it. With those ideas in mind, let me jump in.

    I am currently travelling out of state for work related business. Two days ago, I rode with a coworker in a State owned and tagged vehicle (* a tag or VIN search won't reveal my information) and parked in an off site lot (fewer $) near the hotel as instructed by my boss. There is no attendant on duty. I paid the parking system, which would not let you pay for multiple days even though my plan was to stay for several. The ticket said it expired at 11:59am. I placed the ticket visibly in the car and went on with my business.

    Yesterday, we were in a business conference and weren't able to get back out to the parking area until sometime between 12 (noon) and 1pm. I stopped by the payment booth and paid for another day. Interestingly, the ticket now showed an expiration of 2:59AM, an hour at which few people would renew a parking pass. When I got to the vehicle, I noticed that someone had put two physical "boots" around the tires and left a sticker on the car saying to the effect of "if you want them off, call and pay us $75". To make a long story short, in the end, that is what I did, seeing few other non criminal, non violent, alternatives. i had my coworker remove the vehicle from the lot and after a complaint to the hotel we are now parked in the main hotel lot gratis. Note the parking lot in question is NOT owned by the hotel, it is another entity.

    A couple of other things to note: It took the attendant 30 minutes to arrive, which they said is the amount of time it takes to get there from their office. Given this timing, they must have either magically been on site at or a few minutes past the expiration to take this action, or had done so before the expiration. I have no way of knowing. Two, there is a sign up that says if you fail to leave your ticket on display, they will boot you and it is $10 to resolve, yet when they showed up for me, it was magically $75.

    After the incident, I then called the credit card company, explained the situation and filed a dispute over both the 2nd days unused parking and the $75 ransom fee. While the person I talked to said he can't say how this will ultimately be settled that based on the situation he thought it was very likely that the card charges would be refused meaning that the parking company not only will not get this money, they will be hit with multiple "chargebacks" meaning that the situation will actually cost them.

    This situation got me thinking a few things, both legal and safety.
    1) We've had past discussions about private stores attempting to detain you. In most locals this is not legal and even when it is a lot of specific criteria have to be met. This is effectively what this parking company attempted to do, commit detainment. Furthermore, they did so by acting on physical property (a vehicle) that has a value far in excess of any potential disputed amount. My first question is, is this form of detainment illegal as they are NOT LEO? At no point did I sign or otherwise consent to either myself or my property being seized, nor is this implied by parking somewhere.
    2) I considered calling the LEO, but figured it would be futile at best and negative at worst. Again, I question the legality of their actions.
    3) From a safety standpoint, it is important to keep some cash and definitely a credit card with you when travelling. Both of which can get you out of some sticky situations.
    4) Be careful with area parking in cities. If possible check with your customer, hotel, employer, etc about the parking. In my case, had the subject come up during the hotel check in, they would have told me that this place was notorious for this type of action and told me NOT to park there.

    The other thing I keep wondering is how else could one have dealt with this situation and in particular the "thug" that came out demanding ransom?


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    Noway, first sorry that happened to you.

    In theory they did not detain YOU as an individual they seized/detained property which was parked on their private property. You by parking on that premise agreed to abide by all rules and regulations regarding that including the possible booting of your vehicle. Their property their rules just like anywhere else.

    Now with that being said yes it sounds like you got taken for the extra $65.00. Unless there is some hidden fee not posted or whatever thug boy made some extra money. Yes I would have called LE. I will pay the $10.00 as you did state you were late getting there, however I would make thug boy explain to whomever why there was more money being demanded.
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    Along with the parking fees, the boots are lucrative for them too, so they have some "strict" rules set up so they can use the boots more often?

    I presume your time stamp for 11:59 am was transmitted electronically somewhere so they are able to communicate those expiration dates to their thugs on the street. The thugs show up at the lot during expiration times, wait one minute after the expiration, then boot the car and leave to one of their other lots to do the same thing? Even if it's not electronically transmitted it's easy enough for the thugs to survey the displayed receipts and locate impending expiration dates. They hang around hoping for patrons not to show up for their daily renewal. You can't pay in advance for multiple days of parking, is part of the profit design. Daily parking causes you to be faced with "the boot" on a daily basis, an option for multiple days of "safe parking from the boot" is not as profitable for them.

    Quote Originally Posted by noway2 View Post
    ..... there is a sign up that says if you fail to leave your ticket on display, they will boot you and it is $10 to resolve, yet when they showed up for me, it was magically $75.
    This $10 "fine" seems to apply only to whether the ticket is properly displayed. You stated yours was properly displayed. I believe they were laying in wait and "got you" when you showed up for your daily renewal a bit late. The expiration time did say 11:59 am, and you did state you were not able to get to the parking lot until noon to 1 pm? You got booted, they charged you $75 fee for installing and removing the boot. Strict rules, but it's their game.......don't be late.

    Sorry this happened to you.
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    Consider yourself lucky. In many other cities, the penalty for parking infractions are considerably more expensive. Your car also could have been towed and impounded, causing you more aggravation and expense.

    You were not detained in any way. Contacting the police would be futile. It is private property with posted signs so the situation is a civil matter. You did not explicitly follow their rules and did not move your car. Except this as your responsibility.

    At least paying by credit card, you have an advocate that can dispute the charges. I would be angry but would have done what you did, pay. I would also probably turn in the charge to your company as an expense. It is, after all part od the cost of doing business.
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    Wait until you find your car has been towed. Then you'll learn the meaning of legal robbery.
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    Good that you paid by credit card. Many companies go well beyond what the law allows and most people just "take it" out of ignorance and to avoid the bother. I think you have done what you can. Let us know the outcome.
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    Quote Originally Posted by noway2 View Post
    ...Two days ago, I...parked in an off site lot (fewer $) near the hotel as instructed by my boss. There is no attendant on duty. I paid the parking system....The ticket said it expired at 11:59am. I placed the ticket visibly in the car and went on with my business.

    Yesterday, we were in a business conference and weren't able to get back out to the parking area until sometime between 12 (noon) and 1pm......The other thing I keep wondering is how else could one have dealt with this situation....?
    If you had returned by 11:59 am, as per the ticket you received and to which you agreed by leaving your car there, would any of this happened? You did know when the parking expired and you did know you were attending a business conference.....correct? It's the whole individual responsibility thing that no one likes to talk about anymore. Not my fault....someone else is to blame. I deserve compensation.

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    Distinguished Member Array noway2's Avatar
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    Sevrral points to address here. Please pardon me as I am on a phone making long text harder.

    One, I have no problem on the personal responsibility dept. My issue is where and when their demands are excessive.

    Two, it may be private property but so is my vehicle. Does their claim of being owed some unspecified amount justify seizure of an asset valued in the 10s of thousands? I don't think so. Furthermore, under what legal authority would this not be theft? This wasn't publix streets and there was no LEO involvement .

    Third, I don't buy that by parking there that I defacto agree to any arbitrary rule they come up with. This was extortion.

    Had the dispute been handled reasonably I would have paid for another day as well as a token inconvienece fee. I think a 3am expiration speaks to their motives and character. Like I said, extortion. And where is the legal limit of their authority to attempt to seize another's property.

    As it turns out, they will probably lose money.
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    Good thing they took CC, that gives you some recourse.

    I parked a Federal vehicle in a lot in Philadelphia for a crazy $4.50 an hour...grrrrr.. attendant INISTS that due to the lot size they must have the keys, big NO NO, or I park in a back corner. We get back to the vehicle just as my second hand clicked past the 60 minutes.. it is now behind several other cars that parked after me.
    The thug points to SMALL letters that state $4.50 per hour for the FIRST HOUR, after that it is a daily fee !?!?!?! I forget exact amount but a $20 bill didn't cover it, of course CASH ONLY.
    I demanded a receipt to turn in with my travel voucher and there was much back and forth before he got his money, I got my receipt and he moved those cars.
    Big city robbery, and the folks at the office I visited said "IF the Phila Police show up, they will back the attendant, and after you pay you can file a civil claim if you don't like it"
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    VIP Member Array Harryball's Avatar
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    Your lucky they just booted it. In our system, we can have it towed and impounded. The cost, 200.00.
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    Distinguished Member Array noway2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harryball View Post
    Your lucky they just booted it. In our system, we can have it towed and impounded. The cost, 200.00.
    Back to my question on what legal authority?

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    My son parked in the lot of a closed resturant. $165.00 to get it back the same night. Towing indistry for the most part is a rip off. I drove a tow truck for a while for AAA. All we did was assist people.

    Stopped at a local McDonalds to get a snack. A sign there said no hundred dollar bills. That was all I had so I went next door to an auto parts store for change. Went back to Mickey Dee's to eat, and found a boot on my car. I called the number left under the winshield, and went inside to eat while I waited. This ahhhh van full of misfits pull up and demand $75. to take the boot off. They say I cant use the micket D lot to do business with other stores. The manager of the McDonalds came out and explained that I had to go to the auto parts store to get change of a hundred. They didnt want to hear anything. Ultimately I paid. But boy did I get revenge a few months later... But thats another story.
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    Quote Originally Posted by noway2 View Post
    This situation got me thinking a few things, both legal and safety.
    1) We've had past discussions about private stores attempting to detain you. In most locals this is not legal and even when it is a lot of specific criteria have to be met. This is effectively what this parking company attempted to do, commit detainment.
    Disagree.

    They were ensuring payment for services rendered, fees collectable and essentially agreed to by the contract (ticket) for parking there. Weren't keeping you there. Were simply ensuring your car didn't disappear in about the only manner it could be done, to ensure payment. Little more of a detainment than, say, being forced to stop at the toll gate to pay the funds due.


    Furthermore, they did so by acting on physical property (a vehicle) that has a value far in excess of any potential disputed amount.
    The weren't touching the physical property, nor acting on it. Certainly not from a monetary loss standpoint. They were simply, like a toll gate, ensuring payment at (before) check-out.
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    VIP Member Array Harryball's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noway2 View Post
    Back to my question on what legal authority?
    The over night parking ticket. You received what we call a pay later. The parking admin will normally decide how bad he or she wants to be. My boss will normally let the cars set for a month or two, but its only a 48 hour turn around...If the ticket goes unpaid, a warrant will be issued. Parking is needed, but it really is a racket.....
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    Senior Member Array Stirling XD's Avatar
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    In Denver, tow truck drivers sit and wait for drivers to park and then go into the wrong store. The lot has a sign that says "Store A parking only. Violators will be towed". If you park there and walk to Store B, they hook up your car as soon as you are out of sight. It's usually over $200 bucks to get it back. I've heard some people say that they actually did go into Store A and then went to Store B afterwards since they were so close and were still towed. The towing and parking business are quite a racket.
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