Empire Parking Services / Unethical, predatory fee collection
On Saturday night, 11/28/09, my girlfriend and I visited the Starbucks at 506 Moreland Avenue in the Little Five Points neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia 30307. We parked in the front parking lot and after buying our drinks, decided to, as we have done on many other occasions, walk around the shopping area while we enjoyed them. Upon our return, we found our car booted by Empire Parking Services. (A quick Google search will return numerous complaints of ethical violations by this company on several consumer advocacy websites.)
The EPS worker, who was waiting inside his truck in the parking lot, and watching as people leaved so he could boot cars and collect money, told us it would be $50 to have the boot removed. We informed that him we were paying customers of this Starbuck's and he responded that it didn't matter. As soon as customers leave the parking lot, they are subject to being booted. Without, any evidence other than the booter's word, mind you. When asked how we were supposed to know about this, he pointed to one, small, roughly 8 1/2 by 11 sign posted well below eye level, which is not even visible when entering the parking lot. How is this legal? This is obviously a scam with no pretense of policing parking. The only motivation is collecting fees.
He informed us that his company was hired, or given permission to prey there, by the property owner. I know that Starbucks did not hire this company, but I feel that the corporation has some responsibility to protect it's customers from fraud. Fraud for which it is being used as the bait. I will no longer spend my money at this location, and will advise everyone I can to do likewise. Furthermore, if Starbucks remains complicit with such predatory con artists, I will, regretfully, refrain from patronizing the chain as a whole. It's worth noting that the cars on either side of us were booted as well. I'd venture to say that this location will be loosing a lot of customers because of this.
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