Monday, February 11, 2013
Help Me Howard: Booting Cars
If you park in a government owned lot and don't pay the parking, you know what happens, an $18 or $20 ticket. Now about this $89 and a boot that wont let you move you car unless you pay on the spot. That's what happened to one man who parked in a state owned lot and its why he called Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Hernan Dominguez was on his way to a basketball game at Ransom when he parked across the street at the Coconut Grove Playhouse.
Hernan Dominguez: "The parking lot was full almost all the way to the fence with cars."
The game was about to begin when he walked up to the parking meter where several people were waiting in line.
Hernan Dominguez: "We were already late for the game. I assumed I would get an $18 ticket lets just go. Thats what tickets are with the city of Miami."
Hernan was there to pull for Gulliver, which lost to Ransom. But the real disappointment came when he got back to his car and found this boot on his tire.
Hernan Dominguez: "And he said cause this is a private lot and the owner of the lot hired them to monitor people who did not pay, and to place boots on the cars."
The boot was put on by a private company hired to monitor the lot, which has signs up that say you will be booted and charged $89 if you don't pay $6 to park.
Hernan Dominguez: "I got irritated for the boot and the $89. I thought it was excessive. I thought it was abusive."
In the rush to the game, Hernan didn't look at these signs and he was not alone. A lot of people who parked got booted and were charged $89.
Hernan Dominguez: "At least with boots about a dozen cars.
Patrick: That's over $1,000
Hernan Dominguez: "For an hours work."
Hernan is honest. He says he was not polite when he told the boot company employee how he felt to have a boot on his car.
Hernan Dominguez: "After I became upset with him said he would refuse to take off the boot."
Stuck with an immobile car Hernan called Miami Police. Three officers quickly showed up.
Hernan Dominguez: "That upset me even more, not that the police came, that he would waste their valuable time because he was trying to pull rank and not take off my boot."
The officers made the advanced booting employee accept Hernans money and take the boot off his car. But Hernan was still irritated.
Patrick: "When you parked here you thought it was city parking?"
Hernan Dominguez: "I did because the machine is identical to the machines that the city uses on the street."
The machine on the playhouse lot is the same kind used by the city a few feet away, and Hernan was prepared to be ticketed to pay $18 for not paying for parking. But he did not imagine joining a line of people paying to get a boot off their car.
Hernan Dominguez: "There is no law protecting the citizens. I would like to see the booting business regulated. I would like to see the fees regulated."
Well Howard, can a private company boot cars on government property?
Howard Finkelstein: "In this case, yes because they have a contract with the State of Florida and they follow all the governmental rules. Now, can the booting company charge any price they want? No. It has to be approved by the city or county and has to be reasonable, and can the city and county keep part of the booting fee? Yes they can."
After a little digging this is what I found out. The State of Florida owns the parking lot, Paradise Parking then pays the state $4,000 a month for the right to collect parking fees. An official at Paradise told me since they cant ticket non-payers, they hired advanced booting to boot the non-payers. That company then gives the City of Miami $25 out of each $89 booting. After Hernan complained, Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff got involved.
A couple of days later, I got this email from the parking company that said, "I am suspending booting at the playhouse immediately until we meet and discuss further."
No decision has been made on if and when the booting will resume. But Hernan has an opinion, and doesn't think the state and the city should be booting taxpayers to make money.
Hernan Dominguez: "I work hard for my money. That $89 is a tank of gas. Its money for my kids to go out. It's a lot of things."
Patrick Fraser: "The parking officials told me booting is better than towing because its cheaper and the customer or the customer would say victim can sit in their cars with the doors locked to be safe till the booting company returns. By the way, maybe its because I am paying attention to it now but I am seeing a lot of businesses with signs that say we boot customers that walk away, so watch out."
Problems parked in your lap? Ready to give them the boot? Lock in with us and hopefully we can tow your troubles away ... at no cost of course.
CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org (Please include your contact phone number when e-mailing)
REPORTER: Patrick Fraser at email@example.com