Another Reason they Hate us!


Another Reason they Hate us!

Everyone involved is asking just how the parking operator got the phone number of the owner of the car to send the text. Channel 2 news in Chicago launched an investigation into this issue, and they found that it took the investigatory powers of Sherlock Holmes and the genius of Nero Wolfe to come up with the answer, but even then, they didn’t.

The path wound its way through the parking operator, the supplier of the parking equipment, the State of Illinois and the legal morass that basically said that 1. The state didn’t supply (sell) license plate information, 2. The companies involved were not doing anything illegal, and 3. The license plate info was supposed to be used only for law enforcement and insurance company purposes.

Somewhere in the blurry story it was inferred that the phone number was discovered through the use of ‘multiple’ nationwide data bases. It was not determined just what that means. I think I can tell you what it means. It means that whatever privacy you thought you had, you don’t. But that’s another story.

Here’s the official lawyerese put forth by the operator (ABM) the equipment supplier (FLASH), and the database searcher (Parkpliant):

Multiple nationwide data providers are used by our service partners in compliance with federal, state, and local laws to facilitate the process of contacting those in violation of the posted signage terms and conditions for the facility. While newer to some communities, the technology used to support gateless parking is becoming more common across the parking industry. While we recognize some may prefer a more traditional approach without such connectivity, this offering has proven largely popular with drivers for its convenience and speed of entry and exit from parking facilities. We continue to study and welcome feedback through customer surveys to guide the experience we provide.”

There was signage in the garage (‘the kid’ didn’t see it) that said that if they paid (probably using an app and credit card), they would only be charged $10 to park, and if they didn’t they would be charged $80. Fair enough. But are we in the ‘big brother’ business? Do we really want to be known as an industry that can find just about everything possible about a person in efforts to collect fees.

It should be noted here that the folks contacted by Channel 2 were not opposed to paying for parking. It should also be noted that during Covid parking in the facility was free so ‘the kid’ really might not be faulted for thinking it still was — the facility it seems, was using gateless technology.

We have had this conversation before. What else is that information about me that you gleaned from my license number used for? Will I see ads on the internet for the first  Indiana Jones movies because I went to see the Last? I parked at Home Depot. Will I suddenly receive letters and emails from home repair companies? I went to see my doctor. Will I suddenly receive texts and emails for prescriptions for the aged? All because I parked in a certain parking lot.

The kid is off the hook – he was where he was supposed to be. His parents, and others contacted by Channel 2 news in Chicago said simply, “We won’t be going to movies at that theater ever again.”

In our never-ending battle to save personnel and equipment costs are we really benefiting our customers and our industry? Frankly I “prefer a more traditional approach without such connectivity.”  How about you?


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Shelly Brown

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