Can Budget charge a “processing fee” a year later?

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…

Insider secrets for finding a better parking spot

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.
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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.
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Sharing companies take over a share of the travel industry

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.
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Here’s why you should always take a picture of your car after you get a parking ticket

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.
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Case dismissed: They towed my car and now they’re threatening me

Clare Koebert was looking forward to seeing the sights in Chicago last summer. She’d rented a car with her husband and made the 12-hour drive from the Philadelphia suburbs.

Instead, she got an unwanted lesson in Chicago’s infamous bureaucracy — and, she says, in its unfair judicial system.

While she was in town, her car was towed. The city says she parked in a handicapped spot. She and her husband insist they didn’t.
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Ridiculous or not? Airport parking fees start to multiply

Like many travelers, Hal Frost is accustomed to being hit with fees everywhere he goes, from the airport check-in counter to the hotel front desk. But long-term parking used to always be pretty straightforward: the rate he was quoted was the rate he paid.

Not anymore.

When he parked his car in New York recently through a site called NetParkFly he found several fees added to his bill, including a fuel surcharge fee, a customer service fee and an access fee. There’s no explanation of these extras on the company’s website.

“What are those for?” he wondered.
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No place to park — or sleep

Question: I recently reserved a hotel room through, 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 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 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 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 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 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, and could have spoken with a supervisor, it’s possible that this could have been straightened out quickly.

I contacted 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 “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.” offered to pay for your next stay at the Ramada in Santa Clara, or any other hotel it features at the San Jose airport.