Nashville drivers billed for parking in lots, garages they’ve never entered

These complaints are the latest against parking company Metropolis.
These complaints are the latest against parking company Metropolis.
Published: Oct. 24, 2023 at 5:57 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - When Logan Richardson got a text message on Oct. 6, he knew immediately something was wrong.

The text, addressed to him from the company Metropolis, was welcoming him to the Vision Parking Lot in Germantown. But Richardson and his car were home at the time.

“It was just a panicked moment of what was going on,” Richardson said. “Immediately, I panicked, I thought someone had stolen the car.”

Richardson rushed outside and saw his car was, indeed, in his driveway. After about 25 minutes, Richardson said he got someone with Metropolis on the phone.

“(The Metropolis representative) said, don’t worry, this happens all the time, it looks like someone with a similar license plate drove into our lot, the camera captured it, and charged your account,” Richardson said. “I was just taken aback when he said that, and my immediate response was, how do you let this happen?”

Jeffrey Hoffman can sympathize; he got billed from Metropolis for parking at the garage at the Amazon headquarters downtown. Hoffman says he’s never been in that lot in his life.

“(The bill) shows it was there for three days, 17 hours and 14 minutes,” Hoffman said.

Both Richardson and Hoffman are existing Metropolis customers, which means their license plates are already stored in the company’s system, as are their bank account information.

Both believe the company’s camera system, which recognizes license plates in order to easily bill drivers, is flawed.

WSMV4 Investigates reached out to a representative for an interview to ask questions about the camera system, but a statement was sent instead that did not address our questions, only stating that Richardson was paid back and they had no record of a complaint from Hoffman.

Following the airing of this story, a Metropolis representative emailed again, writing in part, “To be clear, we process tens of thousands of parking transactions a day in Nashville, and nearly 100 percent of these sessions happen seamlessly. In fact, our support team receives calls on less than one percent of all such sessions. Like any company, we are not immune to customer questions or inquiries. Any technology or service-related business, whether that’s Apple or Lyft or anyone else, will tell you that’s why customer service and support functions are so important. Indeed, that’s why we have a full 24/7 customer support center so that we can jump in and help customers new to the technology troubleshoot. As evidenced by one of the examples you mentioned, we were able to quickly resolve the customer’s issue in real time on the phone. I would also hope that any reporting on this be in the proper context. We are talking about a fraction of a percent of total transactions that have issues, and we work quickly to resolve any that may come up. To represent this as any sort of larger issue would not be accurate.”

Our request for an interview was again denied.

These complaints are the latest criticism of primarily Premier parking locations which are owned by Metropolis

A series of WSMV4 Investigations found people complaining that after trying to pay with the company’s app or simply driving through parking lots, they received high fines.

Cameras in the Premier lots are designed to record license plates to issue fines to people who don’t pay, but drivers question if the system is improperly fining people.

The Tennessee attorney general tells WSMV4 Investigates that his office is reviewing the complaints as well.

Metro Councilman Jacob Kupin, who represents downtown Nashville, has heard so many complaints about Metropolis that he had a meeting with the company.

“I want people to know that we are actively working on this,” Kupin said.

While Kupin is careful to say that the technology of capturing a license plate in order to avoid having to pay at a kiosk or attendant is good, there are still problems to be resolved.

“I don’t think the technology is not perfect yet, they’re actively working on it. That tells me there’s still more to do,” Kupin said.

Because these are private lots, the city has no control over them. Richardson said that was a problem because the $45 he was charged was simply too costly of a mistake.

“45 dollars is a make-or-break situation for some people to eat in a week. And how are you justifying taking money out of people’s accounts,” Richardson said.

Richardson confirms he did complain to Metropolis and was refunded his money.

Hoffman said he doesn’t have the time to navigate Metropolis’ notoriously long wait times for customer service and intends to dispute the charge with his bank.

The Tennessee Attorney General is asking anyone who has a complaint about these lots to contact them here.

If there’s something you’d like WSMV4 Investigates to look into, let us know here.