Locked out of the parking lot at Newark – can I get a refund?

Cynthia Farmer/Shutterstock
Cynthia Farmer/Shutterstock
No one ever complains about airport parking lots because these businesses typically say what they do and do what they say. In other words, it’s a place to park.

So when someone does call me about a parking problem, I pay attention. Which is exactly what I did when I heard from Peter Gildenhuys, who recently parked his vehicle at an off-airport parking lot in Newark.

Getting it to the parking lot wasn’t a problem. Getting it off the lot? Problem.

The issue was a delay by several hours on his return flight. He phoned the parking lot operator, Premier Parking, and advised a representative that he’d be getting in at 1 a.m. The company sent him a new receipt verifying his arrival time.

I’ll let him pick up the story from there:

When we arrived in Newark, I phoned the number on the ticket stub I was given when I left my car, following the procedure I was instructed to follow in order to reclaim my car.

No one answered the phone.

I called repeatedly for twenty minutes but no one picked up. It was impossible even to leave a message, as a recording stated that the voicemail box was full.

Not knowing what to do, and having two young children with me, I opted to take a cab home with my family.

Gildenhuys had to spend a total of $293 to take a cab back home to Pennsylvania, and he thinks Premier Parking should reimburse him for it. After all, it sent him a receipt saying it expected him at 1 a.m., didn’t it?

The next day, he picked up his car without incident. It isn’t immediately clear why he didn’t ask for a refund then. Maybe he was just happy to have his car back, or needed to be somewhere. At any rate, he drove away from the parking lot with the $293 bill unresolved.

He called the Newark Premier Parking operation, but it referred him to a phone number with — you guessed it — a full voice mail box. So he called Premier Parking at the corporate level. This time, he left numerous voice mail messages, none of which were returned.

Finally, he wrote a letter to the chief operating officer of Premier Parking. It was a polite, thorough description of what had happened to him, asking for a refund of the cab fare.

Premier Parking didn’t respond.

Maybe it doesn’t have to. Its terms and conditions are pretty clear about its liability in a situation like this. It has virtually none.

“The aggregate liability for Premier Parking USA and its associates, parking lot owners, and hotel owners to you for any and all claims arising from the use of this web site and information is limited to no greater than the cost of the parking reservation,” it says. (Yeah, I cleaned up the grammar a little.)

I’m not sure if Premier Parking owes Gildenhuys, but I think it does owe him an answer. How can you just ignore multiple phone messages and a polite letter? I think he’s been more than polite, considering this happened in June.

Should I mediate Peter Gildenhuys's case?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at . Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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