Thursday, January 03, 2013

Airport Parking Attitude Surprise

 This is a slightly edited version of an email I sent to the Anchorage Airport Manager a couple of weeks ago after I got charged $15 for losing my parking ticket.  (People in Chicago might think that is cheap, but the issue wasn't the money.  It was the attitude.)

Dear Airport Manager:

Yesterday I picked my wife up at the airport. I got my parking ticket at about 8:20 pm.  On the way out, when I got to the parking payment kiosk, I couldn't find my ticket. I went back to where I had waited and looked to see if I could find it.  Maybe it had fallen out when  I'd pulled some notes out of my shirt pocket that had the ticket.

But it was not to be found. I understand the policy that says $15 - the max for 24 hours - for a lost ticket. Everyone who loses a ticket would claim they were there for just a short time. But in my case, I had been to Costco before picking up my wife. (I'd gone home and dropped things off and waited at home because the plane was delayed.) I had the receipt in my pocket.  I'd used my credit card, so it had my identity on it and the check out  time: 7:05pm. This clearly showed that I couldn't have been at the airport for more than two hours. (It took at least 15 minutes to go through the transaction at the airport exit and it was 9pm when someone finally came and opened the arm.)

 I understood that the woman in the ticket booth didn't have the authority to waive any part of the fee. But she kindly gave me a receipt after I requested one and she signed  my Costco receipt to show that she had seen it at that time. The next morning I called the Anchorage Airport Parking. I understand that verifying things like this is difficult and may lead to endless requests. But I also know that any organization can make exceptions to their rules.

The woman I first talked to said it couldn't be changed, there could be no refund without a ticket.  I understood she didn't have discretion to change it either. But her supervisor, who I talked to next, repeated this in a condescending way. "It's your responsibility to keep possession of your card," in a tone of voice you use with a naughty child who has repeatedly done something wrong. I can afford the $9 difference between the two hours I would have been charged if the two hours had been accepted as the most I could have been there. My real complaint was the attitude that I got. "We charge $15 if you lose your ticket and if you are irresponsible enough to lose your ticket, that's tough. Even if you can prove you couldn't have been there more than two hours, we don't care. Cause that's our rule and we don't have to be nice to you."

I assumed this was a company with a private contract with the Airport. This is a business that I would not return to if it didn't have a monopoly on a public service I have to use because I live in Anchorage. But I don't have any choice. Any good business that wants to keep customers, treats them with respect and doesn't ignore their polite and reasonable requests. At the very least he could have asked me to send in all the evidence I had. A responsible business with customers that have a choice on where to do business would do that or they would lose their customers.

 The issue here is not the money - I probably would have gotten free parking if I had had my ticket at the kiosk.  The issue is the attitude I got from the supervisor on the phone. All companies can waive the rules if they wish. It would be interesting to know how many lost card payments the airport parking gets in a day and if the company keeps all the revenue from them or shares it with the Airport.

I'd hope that you talk to them about customer service and about reasonable requests for waivers of the policy if someone has readily available evidence of the maximum time they could have been parked. The point of the policy is that anyone can say they were only there a short time. I accept that. And if I didn't happen to have that receipt, I wouldn't be writing this email. I just think this was unreasonable and their response was inappropriate for a company that has a monopoly on a public service.  I know you have much more serious issues to deal with, but I wanted you to know what's going on.



OK, I got it out of my system. 

But today I got a call from Republic Parking saying that had $15 for me.  I'd forgotten about it and I almost hung up on them.   And then I remembered.  Whoa!  Are you kidding me? 

Since I'd paid cash - that was the night my credit card was canceled because they didn't have my wife's social security number (that's another story) and the first time it was rejected was at the ticket booth - they were refunding the money in cash which I had to pick up.  My wife was out running errands and called.  I told her about the $15 and she went to pick it up.  When she got home, she said they were incredibly polite. 

My thanks to the Airport Manager for following up on this. 

I do still wonder who gets the penalty money and if that encourages them to be so hard-nosed about lost tickets.  But it's better to keep your ticket safe.  I look at this as totally found money that is waiting to passed on to someone who needs it more than I. 


  1. There were two spam comments on this post today, both from the time zone that includes Pakistan. Both spam links related to airport parking. Normally, I'd just delete them, but these two - within ten minutes of each other - actually made an attempt to follow my guidelines by commenting about the post.

    I don't mind someone finding a post related to something they're doing who leaves a link. But this is clearly people (a person probably) being paid to put in links. I decided to repost the comments, leaving the comment and the company, but without the links. Mostly so readers can see the kind of stuff I regularly delete as fast as I can. I may have to refine my guidelines.

    Bella Martin Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 3:36:00 AM AKDT

    yeah most of the people don't really care of the ticket and when they lost they have to pay penalty but then for the next time they keep their ticket safe so its a good way to keep ticket safe.
    Gatwick airport

    Ria adam Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 3:43:00 AM AKDT

    oh man i am still wondering the airport parking companies earn a very handsome amount of money for the lost of ticket case....
    Gold parking

  2. Exactly all companies can waive the rules if they wish and this is how gatwick meet & greet has maintained its reputation.


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