Parking Garage Math: Where Two Minutes Equals One Hour

Where do two minutes equal an hour? A parking garage, of course. Everyone knows this, but what about when another customer delays you and pushes you past the one-hour mark? Nathan tells Consumerist that while the customer ahead of him in line argued with the garage attendant, his own time in the garage passed one hour, and the attendant insisted that Nathan pay for the full two hours.

He wrote the following letter to the owner of the garage (who has now promised a refund):

I recently had an issue at a parking garage where, while waiting in line to pay, another patron in front of me was arguing with the attendant for well over 5 minutes, causing me to go over the one hour mark by about a minute or 2, resulting in me having to pay twice the one hour rate. I argued with the attendant for a while but he was pretty firm and even suggested that I was in line for much less time than I knew I was, effectively calling me a liar. Also, strangely, a police officer came over and ordered me to pay the attendant (which seems a little funny, but maybe he was just trying to keep the peace).

Anyway, here’s the letter I wrote:

I recently had a small issue at one of your parking garages in San Francisco involving the time that I was leaving the garage. From the receipt scan that I attached, you can see that I entered the garage at exactly 3:33 PM and left at 4:39 PM. While this would put me in the $6 bracket, I was in line to pay for my parking time at 4:30 and expected to pay $3 for one hour of parking. Although I was second in line to pay at 4:30 PM, the person in front of me had lost his ticket and was arguing with the parking attendant for well over 5 minutes, at which point, I had to back up, allow this other customer to back up out of the way, and then move forward to pay for my parking. By this time, I was told I had to pay $6 for 2 hours of parking. Add another few minutes during which I was arguing with the attendant and at the end, I left the lot at 4:39 PM, which actually means I was probably only in the lot until 4:34 or 4:35, a mere 1 or 2 minutes past the 1 hour mark.

I understand that waiting in line to pay can be considered time spent in the garage and is chargeable. However, I was forced to wait an unusually long amount of time to pay for my parking and as a result, ended up having to pay twice what I should have because another patron had lost his ticket. I believe this is unfair for me to have to suffer for another person’s mistake. Furthermore, the attendant attempted to lie to me by saying I had gotten in line only 2 minutes ago, which is impossible considering that I was already in line when they were arguing AND I had to back up to allow this other patron to move out of the way.

To remedy this, I would respectfully request $3 be mailed to my address or if you have vouchers available for parking, I would also accept a $3 voucher to park in lots owned by your company. I realize this is a very small amount of money to argue over, but to me the principle of the matter is what’s important especially since the attendant basically called me a liar and was completely unreasonable over just 1 or 2 minutes of extra time, time which would not have been lost had the person in front of me not lost his ticket and decided to argue about it for over 5 minutes.

Thanks for reading and I hope we can come to some kind of resolution over this small matter.


Edit Your Comment

  1. dosdelon says:

    Sounds like an episode of Frasier I once saw…

  2. tweeder82o says:


  3. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    In before the “Pay the damn ticket” people.

    Just cuz.

    • Griking says:

      Just pay th….

      Aw damn… :(

    • FreeShaggy says:

      It’s a bit much though isn’t it? It’s a kind of situation where he is absolutely right in arguing his point and writing a letter, but is it worth your time? 3 dollars?

      Heck we as the loyal Consumerist commentators could spot you the $3. Everyone send him a nickel that you find behind the couch (nickels from the coin purse/jar do not count) and we’ll make this right again.

      • MMD says:

        Except that because the OP took the time to do this, not only did he get satisfaction (which is worth more than $3 in my book), but the attendant was quite possibly instructed to be more flexible in his/her interpretation. Maybe the next time a similar situation happens, the attendant doesn’t charge for the extra hour.

        Next time a cashier/parking attendant/etc. hooks you up in a similar manner, it may be because someone before you took the time to do what the OP did.

        • Leksi Wit says:

          +1 Exactly.

        • kujospam says:

          or maybe he gave the parking attendant 3 extra dollars also, and said keep up the good work. Try to argue with people more so other people have to pay. Most probably won’t write letters and ask for money back.

      • JollyJumjuck says:

        Since you’re so free with everyone else’s money, how about sending me some as well?

      • DariusC says:

        Postage is more than a nickel… and 50 cents gets me a soda or candy bar at the business lounge, lol…

      • craptastico says:

        the way i read it, even without the hold up he estimated that he would have been 1 or 2 minutes past the hour mark. so he’s late anyway. pay up

  4. MaxPower says:

    I live in San Francisco too and I’ve noticed that some parking garages have booths where you can pay before going back to your car and the ticket is valid for exit as long as you leave within 5-10 minutes of paying. I know you might not have had a huge choice of parking garages depending on where you were but if you’re parking near Union Square, the one directly under the square and the one on Mission & 5th are like this. Also, there are some in Berkeley and Emeryville.

    • PatrickPortland says:

      The one at Stockton/Powell, too. I used to use that one several times a week, and those machines were priceless.

      • MaxPower says:

        Isn’t that the one under Union Square that I was referring to? Or is it the other corner… either way, I found that the one under Union Square was also the cheapest which is ironic because it seems to be the most central and ideal place to park.

        • PatrickPortland says:

          I was thinking about the just outside the tunnel. I consider of the Union Sq garage as being the one under the “park.” Regardless, their prices and ticket machines are similar.

    • keepntabs says:

      I live in the Bay Area also, and pre-paying before getting to your car is just about the only way to pay at most downtown and shopping mall parking lots. The only places with big parking lots that I know where you pay as you leave are near the airports.

      Maybe the patron in front of you was arguing about the same thing; having to pay for an extra hour, because of waiting in line to pay took too long.

      • giantspbpk says:

        Embarcadero Center is still pay as you exit. But it’s $3.00 every 15 min, so I’m guessing this isn’t the garage he was in. ;-)

      • Extractor says:

        As OP written “lost his ticket”. Wasn’t arguing over a few minutes. Gotta read OP’s explanation before posting.

    • hypochondriac says:

      I’ve noticed that in the Airport in London. I was surprised, since I used to paying after getting into the car.

    • kabamm says:

      These are common in LA.

    • Woofer says:

      In malls just north of NYC, I’m starting to see meters where you pay for the spot at a machine and can add time at any machine within the mall. No booth, gates, window tickets, or quarter feeding. Very easy system.

  5. Hoss says:

    In a largely cash business, it’s not smart to give the guy in the booth lots of latitude in what to charge. He or she puts a ticket through and properly ensures the amount is recovered.

  6. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    OP gets points for the well written, reasonable letter.

  7. Skellbasher says:

    The attendant is a toolbox, but the owner did him right by giving a refund.

    Nothing to see here, move along.

    • sven.kirk says:

      I agree the attendant is a tool. But that is all he is there to do. Collect money, that is it. Not to haggle. If he is short cash, more than likely, they would get in troble.

      Glad the owner did the right thing.

    • Gulliver says:

      The attendant was doing what he SHOULD do. In fact, imagine an employee allowed to make unilateral decisions and charge you for two hours, then put in one hour and pocket the second. Now do that 100 times a day with say $3 per hour and you have quite a business there on the side.

      If you read the OP’s letter he ADMITS to being there over an hour, “I entered the garage at exactly 3:33 …I was probably only in the lot until 4:34 or 4:35, a mere 1 or 2 minutes past the 1 hour mark”

      A “mere” one to two minutes? I bet if you looked at the sign it says somethign liek one hour is $6 and ANY PORTION OF each additional hour is $3. So you want to let the 1-2 minutes slide (based on your own words which have nothing to do with the argument or car in front of you)

      OP is 100% wrong

      • Greely says:

        He was there a minute or two over the one hour limit because the addendant wasn’t doing his job correctly.

        Jesus Christ.

      • rooben says:

        you’re reading it wrong. He states he was in line at 4:30, 3 minutes before the 1 hour time was up. The part you are quoting is where he is arguing how he must have reached the attendant at 4:34 or 4:35, after waiting for the person in front to complete their argument, and backed up to let them out.

      • Griking says:

        I think that as much as it sucks I agree that the attendant did as he should have. Unless the attendant was also the owner then he’s most likely not in a position to negotiate pricing.

        I don’t even see how this is Consumerist worthy seeing how the OP got his refund.

      • tmitch says:

        Did you even comprehend what you read? He was ready to leave the garage before the one hour mark was up. Only because of the attendant was he not able to. He did not stay there over an hour because he WANTED to.

        The attendant was 100% wrong.

        • Gulliver says:

          Do you even understand that you pay for the time you are IN, the lot. Not the time you wish or want to leave. I guess when you couldn’t make it to work at 9 am because of traffic or some other thing, you feel SOMEBODY should still pay you for that time? HE made the decision to cut it that close. It is not when he WANTS to leave, it is when he ACTUALLY leaves. The attendant is 100 % correct.
          I also doubt the lies the OP has told already. The checkout time would be presented AFTER the ticket was punched (4:39). So how long were you in line Mr OP? NINE minutes? I doubt it. Do you understand how long 9 minutes is? Here’s a simple solution in the future. Take your whiney ass and park elsewhere next time. It was legal, it was just, and it was correct.

          • tmitch says:

            Nope, you are wrong. People pay to PARK, not to wait in line. Sorry, but you are flat out wrong. Utterly and hopelessly wrong.

            • midniteslayr says:


              @Gullver: Look at it this way. When the OP was in line, the space is ostensibly open for another person to park. So, while the OP is being charged for two hours, the parking spot (if parked in with another vehicle) is now generating twice the revenue, from two different vehicles. Granted, this would require another vehicle to come in and park, however, because it is based on the hour, and not the minute, the parking garage has several chances to fill that spot, even during the 5-10 mins the OP was waiting/arguing.

              Seriously, this wouldn’t be a HUGE issue if the garage, while having an hourly rate, actually charged by the minute. For example, if an hour is only $3, then a minute should be 3/60 (rounded down to 1/20), which is 5 cents a minute. If the OP is willing to be charged for the time spent in the lot, then he should have been charged $3.30 ($3 for the hour and 30 cents for the 6 mins extra). I think this would have been a better practice for the parking garage, as they are still making money, and without alienating all the people parking there.

          • CreekDog says:

            That happened to us at a lot near Pier 39 (San Francisco). When we went to leave the lot, there was a line of cars backed up onto the 2nd or 3rd floor of the lot. Took us almost half hour to get from our space to the exit and then the attendant went to charge us something like another $10 extra for the amount of time we *waited*.

            Just so everybody can see whether you are completely off-base or not, should we have had to pay for the additional time when line itself caused a half hour delay?

      • lostinyonkuz says:

        Gulliver you got it wrong bud. The service a parking garages render is allowing to park your car NOT being inside the parking garage waiting to complete payment. Not to mention that when this happens they are holding up the customer. Charging them only adds insult to injury. If the time you are in the garage is not a result of your own choice then you should not pay. The fact that the owner agrees to reimburse is a testament to that.

      • lostinyonkuz says:

        Wrong wrong wrong. You pay for the privilege to park not for just being INSIDE the garage driving around looking for a spot or for waiting in line to pay. The owner reimbursing the costumer is recognition of this. Making the costumer pay for wait time only adds insult to injury not to mention that he is indeed holding up the customer who probably has better things to do.

      • regis-s says:

        Don’t you get some sort of receipt back with how much you’ve paid? It seems to me an employee would be playing with fire if he charged someone $6 and gave them a receipt that said they paid $3.

        It seems to me an employee would have some sort of discretion just for situations like this.

  8. youbastid says:

    I had this problem once before too. There was a 15 minute line to get out of the garage, which pushed me over the limit. I refused to pay extra because they didn’t have enough staff. I had to pull off to the side and deal with a manager. Sure I could’ve just given them the dollar, but they shouldn’t get to profit off their shortcomings.

  9. RandomHookup says:

    Didn’t you do a story a while back about the clocks cheating in favor of the garage?

  10. alisonann says:

    Ha, I dream of parking that costs $3 an hour.

    • steve6534 says:

      +1 ! I wonder where in the world there’s a $3 an hour parking garage in SF.

      • Me - now with more humidity says:

        I worked in the Bay Area in 2001 and had co-workers who would park on the sidewalk in SF overnight because the fine was cheaper than parking in a garage. SF raised that fine in a hurry, though 8-(

    • Sure I could agree with you, but then we'd BOTH be wrong. says:


      In Los Angeles, it’s more like $3.00 every 15 minutes.

    • Hi_Hello says:

      hahahahh I was thinking the same thing.

    • tbax929 says:

      One of the benefits of living in a small-ish city is I’ve never paid for parking here. Never. And if I had to ever deal with street parking again, I’d probably sob uncontrollably. I love living in the land of driveways, garages, and plenty of free parking in what passes for our downtown.

    • madtube says:

      Agreed. I routinely have to go to Philly to my neurosurgeon. On average I spend about 2 hours at the doctor. How much is the parking? $26, and that is the discounted rate. Add that to the $12 in tolls to drive 45 minutes. So basically, I have to pay $50 every time I go to my doctor before I even walk in his office.

      • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

        Oh, thats horrible. I have to drive an hour and 1/2 to get to Albany Medical Center for my daughter, and I have to pay I believe about $4.30 in tolls there/back total… but at least they offer free valet parking, and even if you choose to park your own car- your time there is free, because your Dr will validate it.

    • FerretGirl says:

      I know! I was like, it’s only three dollars! Just pay the extra three bucks already!

    • Puddy Tat says:

      All of you under this comment should overthrow these parking lots $26-$30 for two hours parking is ridiculous.


  11. ARP says:

    Where in SF can you park for $3 an hour. In Chicago, its $13+ for the first hour.

    • PatrickPortland says:

      It is (or was until recently) $3 at Sutter/Stockton. Union Sq, 5th/Misssion, and Ellis are/were all $3.50, I believe.

    • Brunette Bookworm says:

      In some places it’s $13 for the first 30 minutes in Chicago. Are other cities like this or is Chicago just crazy-expensive?

      • Geekybiker says:

        $13? I wish. If you’re down in the loop for business maybe. If you’re in a theatre area, etc its more like $20-30 minimum.

  12. CaptCynic says:

    I make my own parking garage at home?

  13. unchainedmuse says:

    I was once parked in a lot at a doctor’s office. I was attempting to exit, but there was an empty ambulance in the way. The way the lot was designed, there was only one way out. I waited for quite awhile and this certainly put me over the one hour mark.

    When the ambulance was finally moved and I pulled up to the parking attendant’s booth, I attempted to explain to him how I should not be held accountable for the second hour because I was unable to leave when I wanted to.

    The attendant was not budging. I ended up paying for the second hour and was not very happy. I called the garage management company and got nowhere. They didn’t care.

    Yeah, it was just a few dollars, but it wasn’t rightfully theirs.

    • dg says:

      I would have refused to pay. I’d have told them to call a cop, then drove around their barriers. If the barrier was down, I’d snap it off and drive out.

      Fuck em.

      • George4478 says:

        Hell yeah! What’s a few criminal charges, followed by trial costs, fines, and a criminal record compared to getting screwed out of $3, dude! Power to the parker!

        • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

          You forgot car repair and/or severe tire damage repair, insurance, etc…

        • shepd says:

          Driving around the barrier wouldn’t cause criminal charges depending on where you are (Some places would consider it theft of service, however, it’s quite different when you simply have a disagreement over the amount, instead of refusing outright). Breaking it would, of course, be illegal.

          Myself, if I couldn’t drive around the barrier (or over their grass to the road), I’d just park my car in their exit just like the ambulance and ask the attendant to find me inside the building when enough people are pissed off behind me that they can’t leave, or when he’s finally called the police to solve the dispute.

          If he calls a tow truck instead, I’d just get in the car. In most places, it’s illegal to tow an occupied vehicle and, lo and behold, the cops get called to solve the problem.

  14. LankanDude says:

    Looks like it’s time to regulate the industry to charge by maybe 5 minute slots.

    • conquestofbread says:

      That is a terrible idea. They will charge more money per allotment and in the long run, it will cost you more money.

      What they should have is a 5 minute grace period, even if not posted, that empowers the attendant to waive an extra hour charge in the event a customer is only a few minutes past.

  15. n0th1ng says:

    Geeze people pick your battles! First the Starbucks thing then this! Just pay the money it isn’t like it happens to you every day. I have a similar issue at the hospital where my aunt goes for therapy. They have a parking lot, and usually I try to drop her right at the entrance because she uses a walker, but you have to enter the parking structure. Now there is one attendant who charges me $1 even if I take 3 minutes, but the other one lets me go for free since he knows I just dropped her off, you can see the time on the ticket. I think it’s a pretty assholish move but whatever.

    So to solve it I drop her off at the rear street entrance, I have to park in the red for a couple of minutes but sofar no problems. I mean it’s just a buck, but when I got charged the dollar I just let it go.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      He did. He just picked a battle you wouldn’t have.

    • tmitch says:

      I’m sure it’s very nice (for you) to have so much money that you can afford to let some parking garage attendant charge you more than you actually owe, but for a lot of people living in the REAL WORLD, every dollar counts.

    • elangomatt says:

      I am actually glad some people do pick this battle. It may not seem like much, but to the business that is running the garage I am sure it adds up to lots of profits.That is like at a grocery store where your can of peas rings up a quarter too high or something, the quarter should be insignificant to each person, but if the company is Walmart and they sell large quantities of an item it can add up to a significant number.

    • giantspbpk says:

      I personally LOVE picking battles like this.

    • jenl1625 says:

      The reason for picking battles like this is to KEEP it from happening every day. If garages can get away with this stuff without people complaining, they’ll keep doing it more and more often.

      To keep it under control, you have to let them know they won’t get away with it without more annoyance and fight (per consumer they mess with) then the couple extra bucks is worth to them.

    • user54 says:

      Thanks for risking my life by parking in a fire lane so you can save a dollar.

  16. Mike says:

    This story reminds me of a wish I have. I wish there was a political candidate who would run for office as the “little things” candidate. She would run for office and her platform would be nothing but simple little laws she would pass to make our lives easier, her platform would include:

    -Making all parking garages charge in 15 minute increments.
    -Making all airports have a large cell phone parking area for people to wait for incoming flights.
    -Making all restaurants that have self-serve drink fountains give free refills
    -Making coffee shops not look are you crazy when you order Small,Medium,Large instead of ritardato, stronzo, idiota, or whatever names they give their sizes.
    -Stopping all those stupid club cards at grocery stores. I am sick and tired of entering my phone number, or having those stupid keychain things fall off.

    I could go on, but I would vote for anyone on that platform alone I swear.

    • XTC46 says:

      Go to cuba..I hear they are great about making little laws that prevent a privately owned business from doing silly things like providing discounts on products to those willing to let their purchases be tracked (its a trade off, which is why there is a card), charging what they want for the service they render (should I only be able to charge a certain hourly rate for my skill also?) and forcing them to GIVE AWAY their money (free soda is not free for the business.

      The free market dictates everything above. If you like free refills, dont go to places that dont offer them. If you want a garage that charges in 15 minute increments, then go to one. I charge in 15 minute increments, but its not uncommon for people in my industry to bill by the hour and charge a minimum of 2 hours if you want me to come to you. I dont necessarily agree with that, so I dont do it, but I dont need a law dictating how I do business.

      • Mike says:

        Uhh….you know I was just joking right?

      • dyzlexiK says:

        Soda is insanely cheap. The amount you pay for could easily cover 10 refills and still make a profit.

        • XTC46 says:

          but not as much profit as chargining for 2 cups of it… There are lots of things in stores that they make huge profits on. Take USB and HDMI cables, a store COULD sell those for about 1/10 of their price and likely turn a profit, but it wouldnt be nearly as good of a profit as the price they charge now…

    • humphrmi says:

      I’m with you Mike.

      But only because my name is also Mike.

      I have no other reason to support your cause, other than my name is Mike.

      That is all. Carry on.

  17. Brunette Bookworm says:

    Wait, you can park somewhere in a major city for less than $20 and hour? Geez…Chicago makes everywhere seem cheap.

  18. Grungo says:

    I took a different approach when something like this happened to me. I acquired approximately three hundred pennies by going to different stores and trading dollar bills for rolls of pennies from their change drawers.

    I returned to the parking booth and dumped my entire fare on the counter. The woman just looked at me, looked at the mountain of change, and said “I don’t need that, here,” and she validated my ticket. In the end, I paid nothing!

  19. Ouze says:

    I’m all about principle, but to be honest I don’t think I’d be willing to spend more then a minute arguing over $3. $30, sure.

    $3, I’d just move on.

    • parliboy says:

      If you’re saying you wouldn’t spend more than a minute arguing over $3, let us do the math.

      $3 x 60 min = $180/hour

      What you’re actually saying is that your time isn’t worth $180 per hour. While it’s nice to know that you have such an incredible income that $180/hr of your time is no big thing, for many of us that means something.

      • Beef Supreme says:

        No, he’s saying he wouldn’t argue over three bucks. Thanks, Captain Extrapolation.

        • MMD says:

          And if no one argued over 3 bucks, everyone would keep rewarding the garage for bad customer service and inefficient processing.

        • BuyerOfGoods3 says:

          If he wants to be robbed blind – that’s fine. Don’t you all read the news? It all starts out in *small increments* — $3 dollars from 300 people per day (minimum, in most parking structures) = $900 PROFIT, pure PROFIT.

          Keep fighting for your change, guys. Especially the physical attendants – they steal (which is why they are replaced with machines now).

          • Big Ant says:

            “Keep fighting for your change, guys. Especially the physical attendants – they steal (which is why they are replaced with machines now).”

            Because the machines are better, in situation like this where someone had trouble with the machine in front of you and it put you over the limit like this story. The machine would in no way care why you were over the limit. However if there was a actually a person they could used judgment, though in some cases like this one it is poor judgment. At least with the person you have a chance with convincing them to not charge you the extra $3 with the machine there would be no negotiations.

        • parliboy says:

          No, he’s saying he wouldn’t spend more than a minute arguing over three bucks.

          Thanks, Captain Omission.

          • XTC46 says:

            actually, assuming he spent the same amount of time arguing as the person ahead of him, he would have spent about 4-5 minutes, which is about 45/hr. My company charges 125/hr for me to be on site for a client, which includes travel time. So yes, it would make more sense to not argue, and just eat the cost.

            Not to mention it is 4 -5 minutes of my time and 4-5 minutes of every person behind me, assuming there are 2 people behind me waiting to leave, and they make their time is worth the same as mine, it would also cost them an additional 4-5 minutes of their time (about 3 dollars!). So I have just broke even on my bill (assuming I win the arguement) but I cost the person behind m $3, unless of course they also roll into the second hour and dont argue, then I cost them 6!

            Even more frightening would be if I was charging in 15 minute blocks of time (which I do, even for travel) and it took me 13 minutes to get to my client, but that extra 4 minutes arguing rolled me into another 15 minute block, now my client is paying an addtional 20+ dollars for me to save 3!

            So is it still worth arguing over 3 dollars?

  20. mcgyver210 says:

    The only part of this that bothers me is the part you said a Police Officer ordered you to pay which isn’t a Lawful order & you didn’t have to follow. Also I would have gotten the LEOs name & filed a formal complaint for his un-lawful order & abuse of power by a Authority figure. The Leo cannot collect funds for a bill period.

    • rdclark says:

      I agree with everything you wrote except your abuse of the rules of capitalization and punctuation.

    • HighontheHill says:

      Exactly, the pork had no business “ordering” you to pay the attendant and I would certainly agree with the notion of reporting him/her for their actions; except for the fact that so many porks are so dirty and you are almost assured of reprisal from this one or others within it’s herd…

    • dg says:

      I’d have told the cop – thanks, but this is a civil matter. I’d like to file a complaint against the attendant and the garage owner. Can you take that or do you need to have your Sargent come down?

      No way I’d be paying a dime over what I owed. Screw them. If the Sarg came and said the same thing – fine, get a Lt. down here. OR how about just calling the State Police telling them that the City Police are attempting to strong arm you into paying that which you don’t owe, and that you want to file a complaint.

      Yeah it’s over the top, but you know what? Traffic would be so screwed up in that garage while it was going on, that NO ONE would be leaving. I guarantee that the news media would be there – this crap would be on the news, and I’d be suing the hell out of everyone involved. The net result? I’d get ALL my costs because a jury of my peers would probably include some people who have parked in garages and been screwed over the years….

  21. sardonumspa says:

    It is nice that you are so forgiving, but the point of a principled action is to stand up for what you believe is right.

    You, I, or even the OP may not deal with this problem very often, but if a business such as this takes advantage of every customer in this way, and each one ignores it, the business is making a profit based on unethical practices. It is up to the customers to demand fair treatment and when this demand is never made, we deserve to be treated unfairly.

    It is a slippery slope, and when we compromise our principles and values for convenience on the little things, how long before we are forced to compromise on the big things by circumstance? How long before the only remaining option is to resort to escalating the situation as a result of having no other recourse but vengeance?

    See, there is a reason to pick even the little battles.

  22. EWU_Student says:

    Just argue the issue. You win, you save $3. You lose, you’re just paying for the time you are spending in the garage arguing anyway. And saving three bucks, say even if you spend 10 minutes arguing, is just the same as getting paid $18/hour to argue.

    • vpsychward1 says:

      with taxes, it actually works out to be like getting paid $27 an hour. If you are paying $3 post-tax money, then it’s $18 post-tax an hour. So that works out to be like wages at $27 an hour pre-tax.

      For some people, that might be more than their normal wages…

  23. smirkette says:

    Was this the North Beach parking garage on Vallejo with the fortune cookie sayings on each parking space? This has happened to me and a bunch of other people too about a month ago, only it was early on a Saturday evening.

  24. Woodside Park Bob says:

    I was once 20 minutes past an hour because of a very long line to exit. The attendant charged me only for the hour without my even asking! Obviously some garages are run better than others!

    • MMD says:

      And for all we know, that happened because someone in your position was charged for the next hour after waiting in line for 20 minutes and complained, resulting in a policy change!

      See what I did there, all of you who’d “just pay the damn ticket”?

  25. sopmodm14 says:

    i agree that the principle trumps price

  26. purebyu says:

    These parking lot scams should really be persecuted. My wife was recently given a appointment at 10am. We arrived at 9am to beet the traffic and had a 4hr drive. Not only did it take 8 hrs to be seen for a “scheduled” appointment, when I inquired about this the front desk told me that the hospital takes people 1st come 1st serve and that they didn’t recognize appointment times set by the doctors. I’m sure the lot is making a pretty penny from this arrangement with the hospital.

  27. energynotsaved says:

    Alas, life sucks, then you die. Sorry.

  28. Sardis says:

    I wish my problems were this small………sigh

  29. dwasifar says:

    I was in that situation once at O’Hare airport. The clock ticked over while I was waiting in line behind other cars. The woman tried to charge me for the extra hour and I told her I was not going to pay for time spent waiting in line, only time spent actually parked. She called her supervisor on the phone, talked for a few minutes, then hung up the phone, turned to me, and said, “He say you gotta pay.”

    I shifted my car into park, folded my arms, and sat there looking her in the eye without saying a word.

    She picked up the phone and dialed again. “He won’t pay.” A few more minutes of phone conversation ensued, and at the end of it the gate lifted and I drove away without paying for the extra hour.


  30. ben says:

    Great, now this guy arguing just caused the guy behind him to have to pay for an extra hour…

  31. Destra says:

    The bargained-for exchange in a parking garage is money for parking time– NOT money for time in parking garage. It’d be like a taxi driver charging you for the time it takes you to find proper change in your wallet after the car’s stopped at your exit.

    It’s also true that the attendant does not have the authority to reduce rates even in situations where the driver is in the right. The OP had two choices: hold out for a manager or someone with the authority to reduce the rate OR pay the fee and later find someone who could reimburse him. The OP acted wisely in the situation, and the garage did the proper thing in promising a refund. People acting rationally– amazing.

    Also, a side note: the fine print on the back of your parking ticket that proclaims that you parking your car in the garage is “not a bailment” is incorrect. Parking your car and leaving it a defined area creates a bailment, and the garage is therefore liable for thefts that occur inside the garage. (some states’ laws do vary on this point).

  32. cutter says:

    The same goes for the airport as well…..the lady in the box was talking and talking to the person leaving and I kept telling her….you better not charge me for another hour….when I drove up to the ticket girl…I told her….you better not charge me for another hour….she laughed..but said she wouldn’t. She didn’t either..:) If she would have..I definatly would have to report her. Just being fair….with my fare.

  33. rookie says:

    I was recently at the airport, and once again was marveling at the efficiency of a digital system to track the amount of time spent within a certain area controlled by the clock. Not “parking” time, but, time spent within the garage. This includes waiting time. These events are required to be factored by the OP.

    The argument preceding the OP’s exit was NOT caused by the attendant. The argument was precipitated by the preceding patron.
    The clock rules all disputes.
    The clock is dispassionate.
    If indeed you receive a refund you are quite fortunate.

    I am unsympathetic.

  34. buzz86us says:

    This is why when I go to big cities NYC I just take megabus then public transport and leavemy car at home. Less traffic/frustration/parking/gas/crazy drivers more getting where I want to go.

  35. kamiikoneko says:

    Three dollars dude. The time it took you write that letter could have been spent doing something worth a lot more than 3 dollars, I’d like to think…

  36. jeepguy57 says:

    Its definitely about the principle, not the $3. I respect that the OP took the time to write the letter. I would have done the same and my wife would be rolling her eyes the whole time. I won’t hold up a line to argue but if I knew I was in the right, I would have followed-up with a letter.

    • giantspbpk says:

      LOL – I think that is one of the (few) virtues I’m currently enjoying as a single 28 year old…I can argue anything I want without “the glare”…

  37. suburbancowboy says:

    I’d be pissed, but not enough to waste time writing a letter over 3 bucks. Time is money, and writing a letter takes time. but if it makes the person feel any better by getting if off of their chest, then fine.

  38. MacBenah says:

    Hey, it’s SAN FRANCISCO. You expect to find anyone honest there?

  39. kromelizard says:

    In what world does this seem a reasonable effort to recover three dollars?

  40. acad1228 says:

    Wait, wait… You people pay money to park your car??? The only place around here that I can think of where you pay is the Tulsa County court house. And those are just parking meters. I’ve never paid an attendant for parking.

  41. BuyerOfGoods3 says:

    I worked with a parking structure management firm, and this is quite common. They will easily send her a refund.

    All you have to do is ask.

    They’re making obscene profits from Parking Garages — So just ask, and you will (99.9% of the time) get your money back.

  42. almightytora says:

    And this is why you leave about 15-20 minutes BEFORE the mark, so you don’t have to deal with this.

  43. Bagumpity says:

    I had a worse experience in Boston. The LED sign outside the lot said “120 Spaces Free,” but when I went in there were ZERO spaces free. I drove through every floor twice, but no free spots. When I exited, the attendant wanted me to pay the 4hr minimum (about $20). I told him nuh-uh; he said Uh huh, I said NUH-UH; he said UH-HUH! and then I said if I was going to pay for four hours, I’d damn well get four hours, and I’ll just park it right here and take a nap while all your other customers are stuck behind me and can’t get out.

    He let me go. Actually, he threatened to call the police, but I said “go ahead,” and then he sighed and said “asshole,” and lifted the gate.

    • bluevideo says:

      Had an eerily similar experience in Brooklyn. Telling a low-level attendant that one doesn’t have to pay when there was no service actually provided is an uphill battle (to put it kindly). His boss came down, “threateningly” wrote my license plate number and what not (after he asked for my license… nope), said he would call the cops and finally let me go.

      I’m guessing that if he acted on his call-the-cops threat, NYPD laughed at him…

    • Sparkstalker says:

      kinda like this, huh:

  44. Extractor says:

    Parking lots should be set up in a manner similar to most time clocks. They use decimal time where 45 minutes is .75 hour. Take the hourly rate and multiply the difference between leaving and entering. Guess they cant do that because its just to simple and sensible.

  45. Tiandli says:

    Businesses love customers that don’t care about being charged an extra $3.

    • Monoplex says:

      Stuff happens and it’s not as if the company did anything to keep him from checking out. To take action over $3 is a colossal waste of everyone’s time.

  46. Winteridge2 says:

    Reminds me of parking on visitor-friendly Marshall Street near the Syracuse University campus: put a quarter in the meter and you might get 15 minutes parking time…or you might get none. And there is a full-time police officer on hand to ticket you the very second your meter clicks on VIOLATION! No excuses. I will never return.

  47. eagle5166 says:

    In 2003 I was picking someone up from Syracuse Airport and I pulled into the wrong garage (I pulled into long-term when I wanted short term). I didn’t park at all, just went straight from the entrance to the exit. However there was only one exit booth open and a line of cars, so by the time I got up to the exit I had passed the 4 minute grace period. I told the attendant I hadn’t parked, and he let me leave without having to pay, but not before telling me he was doing me a favor. Didn’t seem like much of a favor, not making me pay for something I didn’t buy.

  48. common_sense84 says:

    File a complain about the officer. An issue with a garage is a civil matter. That officer only had the power to tell the garage to let you go. Since the garage cannot legally hold you.

    It is pretty sad that police officers seem to know less about law than the average law and order fan.

    The garage on the other hand would have been free to log your license plate and ban you from ever parking there again.

  49. B says:

    I assume the person in front of him was arguing about being charged the full hour while waiting two minutes for the person in front of him to stop arguing. Ad Infinitum.

  50. shadowboxer524 says:

    At Pearson Airport in Toronto, you pay for your parking in the garage at an automated machine before you walk back to your car. After you pay, it gives you back your ticket, and you have 20 minutes to exit the garage. To exit, you go through one of the dedicated “Paid Ticket” lines, insert your ticket into the machine, and the gate opens. It makes leaving a breeze! Since everyone’s already paid, the line goes very quickly.

  51. Dallas_shopper says:

    It’s not the $3; it’s the principle. I’m glad he is standing up for himself and taking the time to point out that being charged for 2 hours was complete bullshit. That kind of stuff adds up.

  52. Puddy Tat says:

    I would have paid then had a sudden breakdown leaving the gate and stalled right as soon as I started pulling out, I would have my receipt of paying for my parking therefore they would not be able to charge me further and then told the attendant I will be back going to go find help at the local restaurant.

    Then he could deal with not one but a whole lot os pissed off customers.