Empire Parking Services / Fraudulent Vehicle Booting
My car was booted on 12/4/2011 at the EPS parking lot at 880 Peachtree St. NW even though I had paid the $5 parking fee. Had to pay $75 to remove.
On December 3, 2011 at 9:30 p.m. I parked by 2001 Honda Civic, NC license ZSB 7664 in space 14 of the EPS lot at 880 Peachtree St. NW in Atlanta. I didn't have a $5 bill to place in the payment box, so I went into the bar of the Renaissance Hotel and made change. I came back out, folded up the $5 bill, and inserted it into the slot. The next morning when I came outside, my car was booted. I called the number EPS gave, and employee 102, Kevin Sawyer, came to the lot. He was extremely unhelpful and rude and accused me of placing the $5 in the slot that morning, after he booted the car, to make it look like I'd paid already. (My $5 bill was still clearly visible in the slot.) He refused to show a video of my supposed non-payment. The lot had no surveillance camera to prove I paid the night before.
I called the police. The officer told me he sees fraud like this from parking companies all the time and that he was confident I was telling the truth, but that there was nothing he could do. Kevin returned and was suddenly able to produce a video when the officer demanded it. The video does indeed show the receptacle for slot 14 inside the payment box empty - however, that's because I paid with a $5 bill, not coins. It does not show the slot itself empty. Coins would have dropped into the receptacle for my space, but a bill remains lodged in the slot above. Kevin said that's true, but that's why the payment box has a lever he can pull that will dislodge the money from the slot and make it fall down into the individual payment box for each space. The officer asked him to demonstrate. So Kevin opened the payment box and pulled the lever... and nothing happened. My $5 bill did not drop into the box below. And that's why the video does not show my payment - because the lever that's supposed to make the money drop into the box that he filmed does not work. Even in light of this evidence, Kevin refused to remove the boot until I paid $75.
I called EPS twice on Monday, December 5 and left messages for Chris Aughtman, who Kevin had indicated was his supervisor. He did not return my call. I called again Tuesday morning. No response. I was only able to get hold of Chris on Tuesday afternoon by calling his cell phone (I found the number on a website where he had given it after another complaint.) He insisted he'd look into it that afternoon and call me back, although he told me it was doubtful he'd offer a refund. After that, I did not get a call back, as I expected.
In the end, EPS has no way of proving that I did not pay. The video is useless, since it only shows the box that coins would have dropped into, and not the slot where my money was lodged all along. Nor did the video show my car (that I saw), so I have no way of knowing if it's even a video of the right lot. At the same time, I have no way of proving that I did pay (unless I called as a witness the concierge in the hotel bar who changed the $20 for me, and even that would only prove that I got change the night before, not that I paid.) In the end, EPS has quite the racket going. They have a lot with no camera, no machine to generate a receipt. It is possible for them to boot anyone they want and claim they did not pay. And it appears from looking at complaints online that they routinely do this. The people who place the boots on cars get paid by commission. They lure people to their lots with a cheap rate, boot out of state vehicles (because they know those people won't drive back to Atlanta to sue them), and rake in the cash. Well, I'm not going to give up. I will do whatever it takes, within the limits of the law, to get my $75. I don't care how long it takes or how much I have to spend, because it is fundamentally wrong that I should pay the parking charge and still get charged $75.
I'm thinking seriously about paying their office a visit next time I'm in Atlanta. I'm also thinking of starting a website (epssucks.com or something). I may also hang out on a sidewalk next to one of their places, tell people my story, and discourage them from parking there. If they're going to rip me off, then I have no problem making them lose some money too. I am also considering getting in touch with the media in Atlanta. And last, but not least, I am looking into hiring an attorney. I will not allow these crooks to rip me off.
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