Lets Beat up SF again…

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Lets Beat up SF again…

I had decided to give Baghdad by the Bay a few weeks off. After all, they are the focus of most of my ridicule. However I just couldn’t pass this up — It comes from a correspondent in the UK.  I guess all the parking woes aren’t just from the government. The private sector has a bit of the load to carry, too…

Here’s the deal — Its the classic scam. A couple of guys pick up some receipts somewhere and then go to a self park honor surface lot.  This is usually just before a large event.  As the people drive in they say "$5 please."  The people pay.They are given a receipt. There is a minor problem. These two don’t work there. It’s a scam. Read all about it here.

But that’s not the worst of it. There are always going to be cases like this. The problem was the reaction by the operator of the lot. Let’s see – what would be a normal reaction.

"Yes, its a problem. We have doubled our management audits and have more people on the street. We haven’t been able to catch these guys, but we will. We have complained to the police and they are watching, too. We’ll get them and prosecute them…. and of course, all the folks who got citations while parking during this event will have them voided."

What was the actual reaction — taken from a report on San Francisco’s CBS 5:

In fact, because of those problems, his lot now has an attendant at
night. So what about Central Parking’s lot? We showed our surveillance
video to general manager Stanfield and asked her if it meant she needed
to put an attendant at that lot.

“Not necessarily,” was her response.

She says there are economic considerations and that attendants could cost too much.

“We do out lot checks and we do have managers that go through our lots,” she adds.

“It looks like on this lot it’s not working,” we told her.

After a long pause she said: “I think that what you saw was excessive, I don’t think that’s the norm.”

If it is happening "all over the city" as another lot manager reported, then why haven’t they been caught. If you have a surface lot with honor boxes, don’t you have a crew that goes around and checks the lot?  Wouldn’t someone have even noticed that on certain nights there was no money in the box even though there were cars on the lot?  Wouldn’t someone have noticed that EVERY car hadn’t paid? One would have expected that even within 50 miles of the ocean someone would have paid their parking…

But more importantly, are these operators really doing their jobs.  It would seem that the lot supervisors are waiting until well after an event starts and then are surveying the lots. They certainly aren’t going around during the time the lots are filling, because if they were, it would seem that they would have caught the scoundrels in the act. 

Parking Professionalism at its best.

JVH

John Van Horn

John Van Horn

7 Responses

  1. hey john,
    if i email you a picture of the suspect, mr. houston, whom i’ve personally made a half dozen citizen arrests on, will you post it! the problem lies with the DA not the parking operator. (its easy to pick on a Central operation but in this case i blame the city. Mr. Houston even dresses like an Ampco attendant with a name badge and company tie.) the police usually arrest Mr. Houston and charge him with defrauding an innkeeper. Unfortunately, this charge never holds much water in a city of the habitual misdemeanor and trespasser. unless he is high, busted with a crack pipe or illegal substance they let him walk. this is just another “high cost of providing parking” in one of the world’s greatest citys. all the best, az

  2. john,
    i understand your position and i agree. however, what you don’t seen to understand is that we are talking about san francisco. the entire city is in a state of denial!

  3. I”m actually not talking about who is to blame, here. I’m more concerned with the “attitude” of the operator. We need to approach these things with our customer in mind, not from a position of denial.
    JVH

  4. John,
    Yes, this is a classic scam. The classic scam in this case being “gotcha” journalism. You show up in someone’s office with a film crew and try to place the blame on the parking company rather than on the criminals involved.
    I went back and viewed the original story, I feel the written transcript above does not realistically reflect Ms. Stanfield’s reaction or “attitude”. I feel that you can not judge someone’s attitude based on a few seconds of video that is carefully edited together, God knows what was left on the cutting room floor.
    Do you really think a reporter is going to run a 10 minute story that involves such “exciting” parking industry practices as paybox audit reports, employee route time reports, and violation void reports?
    You also know as well as all of us that read this blog that there are certainly may be economic considerations as to why Central has not placed an attendant on the lot. We all know that just because two lots are across the street from each other does not mean they are the same. Are they lease locations or managment contracts? Who pays for labor? Is labor deducted from the gross or the net? What about the payroll and insurance liabilities that are associated with the attendant? This can be a very long list.
    If you are going to cast stones, please do so in the direction they should be launched.. “gotcha” reporting and indifferent law enforcement.

  5. “You are saying that the press just “left out” the part where the operator told them that the tickets would be voided. That the press just “left out” the part about calling the police, being involved in an investigation to catch the perps. The press just “forgot” to include the part about the apology to those scammed.”
    Yes John, that is EXACTLY what I’m saying.
    “My questions are: “How could this happen in a well run operation? Why didn’t anyone seem to take notice of the problem and then set out to solve it? What action did the operator take to make it go away, permanently? etc etc etc”
    I think these are all valid questions as well, and am interested in the answers as much as you. I just feel they should have been asked of the operator prior to jumping to conclusions.

  6. “I think these are all valid questions as well, and am interested in the answers as much as you. I just feel they should have been asked of the operator prior to jumping to conclusions”
    I’ll bet the owner/client is asking them, as well as that managers boss. Has anyone in SF taken a look to see if they have addressed the problem? This scam is one of the oldest ones around, and anybody that is paying any attention should be able to catch it. From the story it sounds like other parking operators did.

  7. Good Grief Craig – You can’t be serious. Practically every other entry in this blog is about the issues of the main stream media and parking. There is no one that understands that better than I. Nuff Said
    However, As an industry we must move from a need jerk defense of parking to coming up with a solution to the problem. Most of the “problem” is very bad PR on our part.
    You are saying that the press just “left out” the part where the operator told them that the tickets would be voided. That the press just “left out” the part about calling the police, being involved in an investigation to catch the perps. The press just “forgot” to include the part about the apology to those scammed.
    Of course many locations can’t afford an attendant. Of course there are economic factors. But adding a temporary attendant, or increasing the number of times an area manager “drops by” one of these lots, particularly when the scam is happening doesn’t seem like too much to ask.
    Of course the operator may be doing all that and just neglected to mention it in the interview, although its difficult for me to believe that this scam is going on all over town (as Aaron points out above) and the operator didn’t notice until the reporter showed up.
    My questions are: “How could this happen in a well run operation? Why didn’t anyone seem to take notice of the problem and then set out to solve it? What action did the operator take to make it go away, permanently? etc etc etc”
    Although I shudder to defend reporters, they certainly do a bad enough job, I will research it and get back to you
    JVH

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