Not seeking sympathy but very interested in comments from folks who have been burned by this parking/towing scam. Here’s the tldr; version of what happened today:
Take a poorly marked parking lot that was just converted to being a paid lot, an electronic centralized meter that gives one no way to know or prove whether payment went through and an aggressive towing company that makes $135 per carcass and you get what is from my perspective a shady money-making racket that extorts patrons and kills local merchants (and potentially enriches the property owner but that part I can’t prove yet).
For the longer more Woodward & Bernstein version watch the following video. This is a compilation of footage i shot today from my phone showing the poorly marked lot, an interview with the owner of the coffee shop and an undercover session where I’m getting strong-armed at the tow company. I’ve already attempted to dispute the towing charge with my cc processor but it has to clear before they can lodge that complaint. I will update this post with the outcome of that effort once they come to a verdict for anyone interested. I attempted to file a police report as a stolen vehicle when the towing occurred the but the lady at the police dept informed me if it was towed it was a civil mater and I would need to take issue with the company that handles the meter.
The key two questions here are:
- “is there a financial relationship between the property management company such that they make more on towing fee kickbacks than on the metered parking fees?”
- “if so, is the a) awareness that it’s a paid lot and b) payment experience for the well-intending patron intentionally degraded to yield a better profit for the towing company and prop mgmt co?”
I admittedly have zero way of proving this hypothesis today but from talking with various people lingering in the lot and judging based on what I experienced, I’m highly suspicious. Certainly from a pure game theory perspective and analysis of the factors present, that hypothesis makes sense. If that is in fact the case, then this is a super shady racket and people should blow the whistle if they have access to any documented info that proves this to be the case. Anyways, I don’t expect to learn the answer anytime soon nor do I expect the property management guy who had a chance to right the situation today to ever admit that it’s true. Anyways, evaluate the facts and draw your own conclusions. And if you have anecdotal evidence to add of your own, leave it in a comment.
Here are some useful links:
Lastly, here are some interesting photos:
Anyways I spent way too long on this already but I figure writing this post and publishing the vid would at least air the issue out there and provide a place for others to comment if they’ve been victim of a similar scam.
If you have been fleeced or know of friends who have been hit by parking scams in Tempe, share this link and have them leave a comment here describing their situation. If enough legitimate stories amass here I will share this with authorities and urge them to hold the offending entities accountable. thx
UPDATE 3/13: As expected SWAT was never able to produce photos they claimed they had that proved the meter was expired. I recorded this phone call with them. The lady seemed to take genuine delight in encouraging me to call back tomorrow, or the next day, or the next day… weirdly enough at the end of the call she thought it was a total bluff when I told her I had recorded it. This company is truly awful. I’m awaiting to hear the result of my dispute with Citibank Mastercard and will update this post accordingly once I hear back.