When Kate Gunnell’s daughter was touring the University of Washington campus, her family focused on fees for tuition, room and board, books, and the various activities that she could participate in as an incoming freshman — but not car rental “processing fees.” One year later, Gunnell is wondering why Budget is trying to charge her $30 for a ticket she doesn’t even remember receiving. Continue reading…
Even though parking is included in Todd Brown’s hotel rate, he’s charged again through his car rental company. Should he have to pay his bill twice?
Need a place to park? So does everyone else.
Finding a spot is a problem that’s as old as the automobile. And for almost that long, the solution has remained frustratingly constant: Get there early, look carefully, and hope for the best. As the busy driving season rolls around, chances are you’ll be hearing that recycled advice more than a few times.
It’s like a scene from the 80s classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Minus the Ferrari, maybe. And the Star Wars soundtrack.
Even though Linda Troop pays for parking while she’s a guest at an Econo Lodge, she receives a parking ticket from the city of Aurora, Colo. Who has to pay?
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.
Instead of paying $18 a day to park at San Francisco International Airport last month, Daniel Denegre tried something new. He handed the keys to his Hyundai Accent to a start-up company called FlightCar, which offered “free” parking at an off-airport lot in Burlingame, Calif., and an opportunity to earn up to $20 a day by renting his vehicle to someone else.
“If I can find a way to reduce the burden of leaving my car at the airport and make it profitable, I’m game,” says Denegre, an independent film producer from San Francisco. Even though no one rented his car, he didn’t pay a dime to park. “To me, the convenience is amazing.”
But city officials have another word for it: illegal. In a lawsuit filed earlier this year, the San Francisco city attorney’s office said that FlightCar is running an “unlawful and unfair operation.” It says that the company, which is part rental-car company, part parking-lot catering operation, lacks the necessary permits to do business at the airport.
I don’t know what to do about Clare Goyette’s case with the Philadelphia Parking Authority. I’m about to move her case into the “unsolved” file, but thought I would ask you before I did. Maybe I’ve overlooked something.
Goyette rented a car from Dollar on a recent visit to Philadelphia and parked the car along the 1900 block of Sansom Street.
“A city parking official assisted me with the parking kiosk and walked to my car with me and remarked that the receipt is to be displayed on the curb side of the car,” she says.
Question: I recently reserved a hotel room through ParkSleepFly.com, which offers hotel and parking packages near airports. Or so I thought. When I tried to check in at the Ramada Limited in Santa Clara, Calif., I discovered they had no reservation in my name.
I left my car at the long-term parking lot at the San Jose airport and phoned Ramada to see if I could get this sorted out, but they had no record of my reservation and couldn’t help me.
That proved to be a costly mistake. I paid $180 for parking, and ParkSleepFly charged a $13 deposit and $5 transaction fee for a hotel I never got to stay in.
I called ParkSleepFly.com to find out what happened, and a representative refunded $18 and promised to contact Ramada for me. That was more than two months ago. I think ParkSleepFly.com owes me the difference between the potential cost of the motel and the cost of parking. Don’t you? – Sandra Ferguson, Santa Cruz, Calif.
Answer: Maybe. If ParkSleepFly.com sent your reservation to Ramada and received a confirmation from the hotel, then it would have done all it could. But if it never reserved your room, then yes, a simple refund of your reservation fee wouldn’t cut it.
This is one of the most common – and easily preventable – hotel snafus. With all due respect to ParkSleepFly.com and other online travel agencies, your hotel confirmation isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. Reservations get lost between a Web site and a hotel, for a variety of reasons.
Phoning the Ramada Limited a day before your arrival would have given ParkSleepFly.com a chance to fix this before you had to pay a $180 bill. But it also makes sense to double-check everything before you leave. I mean, you call your airline to confirm your flight. Why not dial the hotel, just to be safe?
Once you arrived at the hotel and learned you had no reservation, you might have considered hanging out for a while and politely asking for a manager. I realize you were about to catch a flight, and were probably worried about finding a Plan B for parking, but if you had a printout of your confirmation from ParkSleepFly.com, and could have spoken with a supervisor, it’s possible that this could have been straightened out quickly.
I contacted ParkSleepFly.com on your behalf to find out what went wrong. You received a personal apology from the company’s president, Tom Lombardi, who admitted that the ParkSleepFly.com “dropped the ball” on your reservation. “We have no explanation as to why the reservation did not make it to the Ramada,” he said. “All the other ones since we have been working with them were received and honored.”
ParkSleepFly.com offered to pay for your next stay at the Ramada in Santa Clara, or any other hotel it features at the San Jose airport.