Nashville drivers get high parking fines just for driving through parking lots

The Tennessee Attorney General is evaluating unexpected high parking fines, WSMV4 Investigates' Jeremy Finely reports.
Published: Jan. 9, 2023 at 8:31 PM CST
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Justin Davis thought he’d save some time, and money, by just dropping off his girlfriend at the Metropolis parking garage off 2nd Avenue downtown.

He pulled in, dropped her off, and drove out.

A few weeks later, a bill from Metropolis came: $105.25.

Bill shows $100. 25 bill for driving into parking garage for one minute
Bill shows $100. 25 bill for driving into parking garage for one minute(Justin Davis)

Not only did Davis know he never parked there, but he swore he was only inside the garage for a minute.

The ticket confirmed it: in at 10:45, out at 10:45.

Then Davis started looking at the photos included on the ticket.

“The first picture is me with my headlights on, the second picture is me exiting the garage with the same time stamp,” Davis said. “It’s almost criminal what they’re doing.”

Emmaline Watson can commiserate.

The college student works on Demonbreun Street near Music Row, and in order to quickly access her job’s private parking garage, she has to drive through a Metropolis parking lot.

Watson showed WSMV4 Investigates the repeated parking fines she receives for just passing through the lot, some as high as $120.25. “It’s highway robbery if you want my honest opinion. It is infuriating,” Watson.

Being charged high fines simply for driving through a parking lot or garage managed by Metropolis is the latest finding in our ongoing investigation into the company, which already exposed how high the fees can be and how just briefly parking in the lots can result in the fines.

Metropolis is the parent company for Premier Parking and for McKinley Payments, which sends the bills.

Metropolis uses cameras to determine violators that don’t pay to park.

Watson and Davis can’t help but wonder if the camera equipment used to identify license plates is flawed.

“Every time that computer sees your license plate, it sends you a ticket,” Watson said.

In our original story, a spokesman for Metropolis wrote in part, “Every Premier-operated lot has a grace period after entering before you are required to pay, so just driving in and then driving out will not incur a fare or penalty.” That spokesman said over the phone the grace period is usually about fifteen minutes. “I asked the company - and they said there’s a 15-minute grace period,” said WSMV4 Investigates.

“I haven’t seen it,” Davis said.

WSMV4 Investigates took our findings to TN attorney general Jonathan Skrmetti.

Skrmetti confirmed they have 17 complaints filed with his agency about the parking fees.

“If there are ways to build in additional fees that the company takes for granted, that consumers don’t know about, that’s the exact kind of misconduct we need to pursue,” Skrmetti said.

Skrmetti said his office continues to look into the complaints and will determine at a later time if more action is necessary.

WSMV4 spoke with and emailed the Metropolis spokesman for four days, requesting an interview and sharing the tickets, asking if people should expect to get a violation fee just for driving through a Metropolis parking lot.

That spokesman sent an email that did not address any of our questions, but stated, “Metropolis and Premier provide parking services for local Nashville businesses. The vast majority of Nashvillians who enter those lots and garages pay for their use of these spaces. We also respond to all support requests ( within 48 hours.”

Davis did successfully get the parking fine canceled after filing a complaint with the company, and Watson is filing complaints with the company as well.

If you’d like to dispute the violation fee, you can do so on the BBB website. You can also contact the company via its website.