I blasted through a headline over at Parknews concerning parking at Trader Joe’s. It was, I thought, a ‘dog bites man’ story. After all, we all know that Trader Joe’s is a small store with a large clientele, and a correspondingly small parking footprint so you know if you drive to Trader Joe’s, you have a parking issue. My first response was ‘meh’.
Suddenly I was bombarded by a dozen emails from people horrified about the article. I figured I had better go back and actually read it. Boy was I surprised.
Seems an automotive reporter for the LA Times did a deep dive into Hollywood Trader Joe’s parking issues and did something few of us ever do, he actually read the 4000 word terms of service attached to the parking app that is required if you wish to park at this particular venue. (Note: Trader Joe’s had nothing to do with the parking, they are simply a tenant in the building.)
Basically the terms of service gives the app creator the right to collect tons of information about you and then to provide (read that sell) that information to whomever they like. This came as a surprise to those of us who download parking apps all the time.
If you want to read the whole article log on to parknews.biz and search for ‘privacy’.
Let’s face it. We know that Amazon et al collect our data on a daily basis. How many times have you bought a plane ticket to Florida then been faced with weeks of ads for Disney world and Orlando Hotels. We know that happens and acknowledge it. But information about our parking? Is that a step too far?
I was even more surprised to learn that I use the app to park at my doctor’s office. She is a specialist, and it would take very little research to understand what her specialty is and then to learn just what I am doing there every few months. I wonder just how that conflicts with HIPPA rules. My health is my business, and certainly no one else’s.
Just what does this mean to our industry? Sure an app that enables me to enter and leave a garage seamlessly and to pay automatically is great. And I laud it. But one that allows someone, anyone, to collect data about me and then provide it to a third party is problematic at best. I wonder if the landlord at the Hollywood Trader Joe’s knows that data can be collected and (shudder) sold. Is that building owner getting a piece of the action? Is the operator?
This is going to take more research and a swim in some murky waters. Stay tuned. I have some pretty powerful folks on the case.