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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Reason 3,126 Nashville will never be a world-class city

I know I haven't told you the other 3,125 reasons. If I live here long enough, I am sure I will get to them.

Tonight, I was supposed to go downtown to watch my friend Kathy's big gig at the Hard Rock Cafe. That's a big deal, and I was super excited about it.

I rushed home from working late, changed my clothes and hopped on the interstate. I should've known when I didn't have to wait in line at Kroger to get gas and ran into no traffic that everything that was going to go wrong was going to be once I got downtown.

And it was.

First, I couldn't get down the road in front of the Hard Rock, nor could I get in their parking lot to valet, which had been my plan when I was running late.

So, I went to the next-closest garage (took me about 10 minutes to go a block to do it). The girl said they had parking and it was only $2 more than the valet, so it was all good.

Except it wasn't.

There was no parking in the garage. And by the time I drove around for 10 minutes to find this out, I was going to miss most, if not all, of Kathy's show. So, I figured I'd just go downstairs, tell them they're out of parking and go home.

There's an attendant when I get up front (although I noticed they've replaced the pay booth with a credit card machine), so I tell him, "Hey, you're out of parking, so I am going to just go home. Here's my ticket; let me out."

He says, no problem, and sticks my card in his automated machine.

And it tells me to pay $12. For 10 minutes of parking, which was not really parking, it was driving from floor-to-floor looking for non-existent parking spots and giving up.

I have no problem with paying for services that I receive. I was more than willing to pay $12 to park there for a half-hour to watch my friend sing a few songs. But I didn't park. There were no spots in the lot. Therefore, I do not need to pay; I did not receive the promise service.

He called someone who was some sort of supervisor who says it's a $12 flat rate and I have to pay. (I have been in plenty of garages downtown that just let me out for free when there were no spots, so I am not sure why today was special.) I tell him I am not paying if we have to sit there all night.

Finally he let me leave the garage after taking all of my personal information and telling me not to ever pull into one of their garages again if I didn't intend to pay. I told him that if that's their policy they should put their "Full" sign up if they have no fucking parking spots.

I was pissed. I just went home, and I'm still seething. I'm mad because I'm sick of getting fucked over by Central Parking. Usually what happens with them is that I park in their lots, pay their little credit card machine and get a surprise when they charge my credit card two or three times the posted rate. They usually call it special-event parking, although most of the time I have no idea that anything's going on besides me grabbing a bite to eat with friends.

When Garth Brooks was in town, lots that normally charge $5 were charging $30. There really should be laws against that.

And, in most major cities there are. In most cities, there is a parking commission that regulates the parking garages and lots.
In Detroit, you have to post your rates at the beginning of the year and you can't change them, no matter what. So if Garth Brooks is coming to town, your lot better charge $30 all year long. In fact, that's what they did the last year Tiger Stadium was open. Yeah, we bitched, but I'd rather know that I'm going to get robbed than get a little surprise when I log on to my online banking. On the plus side, I've always had enough money in my account to cover it, so that's good.

The costs to park downtown are outrageous anyhow. Hell, I've parked on fucking South Beach for cheaper. South Beach. Nothing about South Beach is cheap. It doesn't help that there's one company that owns 75 percent of the lots, and they are apparently shady as fuck. Surely even without government regulation, it's got to be illegal to say a parking lot costs $6 and then charge a credit card for $10.


So, today I stood up for myself. No one should have to pay to not be able to park, especially not more than $1 per minute. It was obvious I wasn't "stealing" parking from them. I was in the garage 10 minutes. I didn't like being treated like a thief. Especially not by a company who has overcharged my credit card for parking probably a dozen times.

You might ask me, why do you park in Central Parking's lots if they are such assholes? Believe me, I have asked myself that several times tonight. The problem is, they own almost all the lots downtown. It's really hard to not park in their lots, but if I have a choice, I don't park in their lots.

I think aside from getting ripped off, I am just pissed because our city is better than this. I'm sure they think it's OK for a private company to buy up all the land downtown and screw people over for parking. But the problem is, when people come to a city, they expect to be treated fairly, and they aren't treated fairly when they come to Nashville to visit and park downtown. And that hurts us if those people don't return. It hurts the city if people like me, who used to go downtown all the time say "Fuck Central Parking, I am just not going downtown and getting screwed anymore." So, that hurts the restaurants and bars where I like to spend money.

We want to be a world class city. We want to attract tourism. But who wants to go to a city where you get a little extra surprise on your credit card bill when you get home?

What I think is most interesting is that people who don't believe in regulating private industry say that we can trust businesses to do the right thing.

Do you really think charging someone for a service they didn't receive is the right thing? Not to mention topping it off by lecturing them about stealing parking that didn't exist.

Businesses are out to make the most money possible. They don't give a fuck about people. That's why people need government to make rules that protect us.

Fuck Central Parking.

1 comment(s):

totally agree — good customer service produces more customers in the long run

also, your RSS feed button doesn't seem to be working :/

By Blogger Adam Desautel, at 7/29/2011 12:24 AM  

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