Elinor Gingerich has a message for people enticed by signs indicating free parking in lots Nashville: it can come with a steep price.
$71 to be exact.
The San Antonio resident told the News4 I-Team she was stunned to open a bill five months after her husband had come to Nashville and had lunch with a friend.
He parked in a lot attached to a restaurant.
“He thought it was restaurant parking. Free restaurant parking,” she said.
Gingerich said her husband saw a sign reading free parking, didn’t see a kiosk to pay, and parked for two hours.
Then came the bill for $71 from Park Happy, LLC.
“Seventy one dollars is really excessive,” Gingerich said.
In a city desperate for free parking, more than one hundred complaints have been filed with the Better Business Bureau about Park Happy lots.
Gingerich even filed a complaint with the state department of consumer affairs.
The News4 I-Team reviewed all the complaints, which ranged from people confused about signs indicating where to pay, to several about the fees.
One complainant wrote he got a $40 ticket for being eight minutes late for a free parking spot.
“Obviously, with the pattern of complaints, we know that it is an issue,” said Lisa Smith, communications manager for the Better Business Bureau.
The News4 I-Team went to the parking lot where Gingerich’s husband received his fine after thinking the parking was free.
The first thing you notice when you pull into the garage is a sign that reads parking “may be free.”
We found the kiosk in the back, and it read that the first 1 ½ hours were free parking, and that costs incur afterwards depending on how long you park.
For an additional hour, the cost was $3.
But a large sign next to the kiosk read that if parking extends the free time period and the person parking doesn’t come back to pay for extra time, there “may be violation fees.”
Gingerich said that sign never states that the fees could be as high as $71.
Other complainants to the BBB indicated their fees ranged from between $30 to $64.
“This is their business. Make it confusing, make it difficult, have tiny little signs and then slap people with these huge fees,” Gingerich said.
Keith Moorman, the owner of Park Happy, agreed to an interview with the I-Team but then backed out, citing a scheduling conflict with an early flight.
In response to Gingerich’s complaint with the BBB, Moorman wrote that Gingerich’s husband didn’t display the receipt on his dashboard as instructed, would have walked by several signs explaining where to pay, and added, “Some individuals assume they won’t be caught when parking without paying…then attack the legitimacy of the company whose job it is to enforce the rules.”
Moorman stated in an email to the I-Team that he thought the signs at his lot were very clear.
Park Happy received a B- rating from the BBB because they have responded to so many of the complaints.
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