Parking problem for some in Raleigh

June 17, 2011 4:06:57 PM PDT
The downtown Raleigh McLaurin Parking Lot on West Hargett Street is a popular place for visitors to park.

Five dollars gets drivers three hours worth of parking.

However, one Wake County teacher says her car was booted despite trying to pay twice while she was in downtown supporting her students during graduation last Friday.

"I tried to pay for my parking place I had no cash, I swiped my debit card twice there was no prompt that said out of order, but to be fair it did not print a paper receipt, I presumed maybe it was out of paper, the way gas pumps often are," Paula Grady said.

After graduation, Grady returned to her car and found an unwelcomed surprise.

"My car had a boot on it, I had a $50 ticket," she said. "I had to call and have the boot removed. When the attendant arrived, I told him I made two attempts to swipe my card. He told me it didn't take debit cards, but it worked with cash."

However, the machine that takes money for parking doesn't state that, in fact it even has a card reader.

"There was no sign on the machine, no warning that it was out of order," Grady said. "It's a big money maker, it's obviously profitable. I would love to know how many people were attending graduation that paid $50 when they only wanted to pay $5."

Days after Grady got her $50 ticket; ABC11 spotted many visitors to the lot had the same problem - several people attempted to use their credit or debit cards to pay for parking.

"I put in my check card and it won't accept it," driver Krithika Ramesh said.

And no warning from the machine, just no printed receipt.

"It's really inconvenient, especially if you have an appointment and have to go to the court house, I'm not going to sit here and wait for the machine to work, definitely don't want a boot on my car," Ramesh said.

When it comes to cash, driver Peter Whalen tried to put in $10 so he could stay longer than the three hours when you pay $5. While it took his $10, it didn't extend his time even though he paid for it. And the sign states $2 each additional half hour.

"It's basically going to take advantage of me, monetarily," Whalen said.

While several parkers were having trouble, Director of Enforcement, Dennis Morgan from McLaurin Parking showed up. And Grady explained her frustrations to him about being booted.

"They had me, I had no option but to pay," she said. "It's interesting that their attendants' hand held devices can swipe your debit card just fine when it came time for $50."

Morgan tried to help those having trouble using the machine, but he couldn't get it to take credit or debit cards either. Then Morgan's boss showed up, Andy McLaurin, who said he was aware of the problem.

"We have had an issue with this credit card reader, trying to determine if credit card reader or software," he said.

McLaurin says it will work once he restarts the machine, which he did, then went on his way.

But as ABC11 waited, another visitor tried to use their debit card and it still didn't work. Morgan says they will put up a sign letting customers know, it only takes cash.

As for Grady, Morgan says he will take care of her ticket.

"Thank you, there is absolutely no way I could have gotten these results on my own."

Morgan tells ABC11 that if Grady would have reported her problem to the corporate office, they would have worked with her.

Nowhere on the ticket does it say people can appeal it, and Grady says she did report her problem to the parking attendant that she had to pay the $50 to in order to get her boot off, and she says he never mentioned that option.

Meanwhile, Grady says she wonders how many other people got booted and had to pay the $50 ticket.

As of Friday, there is now a sign on the machine that says cash only.

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