So we had a run-in last week while in Atlanta for Dragon*Con and it is truly mind boggling that this is actually a common occurrence and can happen to anyone. Where truth and justice failed us, maybe you can be warned.
Jeff and I visited a convention in Atlanta on Sunday, September 5th. We parked in the Harris Street Lot run by EPS (Empire Parking Services) on the corner of Harris Street and Peachtree Center. We paid $20 fee at approximately 2:00 PM for the privilege of parking adjacent to the convention. That pass was not to expire until 3:00 AM on September 6th. When we left the convention at midnight, we found TWO boots on our car. We called the technician, he said we were booted somewhere around 7:30 or 8:00 PM that evening. When we asked why, as our time had obviously not expired, the technician claimed we moved our car, yet could not provide any evidence of any kind other than the statement that the “hood felt hot.”
We came to Atlanta for the sole purpose of visiting the convention. We can create a time line of all of our activities through receipts and bills of sale. We were within three blocks of the lot the entire day. Further, with nearly 40,000 people in attendance on this date and people circling for parking spaces, it would have been statistically impossible to move the vehicle and return it to stall number 64 within the time period he described. We challenged him and he told us to call the police but he was not going to remove the boot. Once the officer arrived, the technician changed his story and said the wheels were hot, indicating the car had been driven off the lot. This is probably the stupidest thing ever uttered by a human being ever. It was a hot day, I’m guessing that just about anything sitting in the sun would have felt “hot”.
The officer corroborated our claim, it was glaringly obvious that we had not moved the vehicle all day long. The most compelling evidence is utterly disgusting, but it was the accumulation of bird droppings on all of the cars parked along the edge of the lot. If we had moved the car, the windshield would have needed to be cleaned to even see out of it safely. But no, it reflected the same amount of filth as all the surrounding cars that had been there for the past 10-12 hours.
The next representative of the parking company that arrived on the scene said that it was a private lot, he would not remove the boot, proof or no proof, and we were free to sue them. What an a$$hole! We filed a police report and I paid the additional $75 fee under extreme duress. So far I have not been able to dispute the charge with my credit card company as I willingly gave the card and paid for the service of boot removal, which is exactly what I got. What a scam, right?
What is truly irritating is that in my research I have found that this sort of predatory and unlawful booting is not only very common with EPS but the police can’t do anything about it! Also, here is the clincher, someone has to actually hire this company to provide lot services, and that is normally an adjacent business. So who employs them? Is it the Hotels? The mall?
You can read more of the same sort of complaint here,and here and here. There is even one where this company booted people of color and let all the “Americans” go free. So on top of being liars and con artists, they are bigots too. Isn’t that just lovely?
It really isn’t the money so much as the time that I was being illegally held against my will that gets to me. Booting should be illegal, plain and simple. A private company should not be allowed to act as judge and jury without any monitoring, the customer has zero rights here. (See more on the topic and how it is a violation of 4th Amendment rights on www.fighttheboot.com)
I will only park in a deck from now on. You can’t be accused of cheating a deck. Push button, get ticket, arm goes up, pay for your car on exit. Repeat as necessary.
Oh, and while you are in Atlanta, be on the look out for this scumbag:
“Michael” or “Brian”- pudgy, bald, lying SOB.