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.

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