BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — There have been many complaints this year about private companies booting vehicles and then forcing owners to pay large amounts to have the devices removed.
The latest complaints come from two businesswomen who say they had a bank card charged $450 after their vehicle was booted at a Pay2Park lot on Main Street, Buffalo. The women said the problem happened Saturday night / early Sunday morning October 26-27th.
According to the women, the receipt dispensing machine was not working in Pay2Park's Lot 21 - which is not far from the Chippewa Entertainment District.
One of the women said she checked city street parking signs and saw there was no charge at that time of night (after midnight). However, that caused her to wrongly assume parking in the private lot was free.
When she returned around 2 a.m., her car and several others were booted in a driving rainstorm.
Several people were upset, said the women, who added that it took four hours for the boot to be removed. In addition, a crew sent to remove the boot for a $150 charge swiped her bank card multiple times which charged her account $450.
The woman filed a complaint about the extra charges with her bank.
Calls to Pay2Park were not returned.
"The reason I wrote this law was simply because people complained," said Rev. Darius Pridgen, Buffalo Common Council President.
Pridgen said his office has received numerous complaints throughout the year about "predatory booting" practices in Buffalo at places around the Broadway Market and at apartment complexes behind Buffalo City Hall.
The council president helped draft new rules for booting vehicles which will be formally voted on by the full council during a Tuesday October 29th meeting.
"I expect it will pass," added Rev. Pridgen.
Under the new rules:
- Only companies holding a valid license from the city can boot a vehicle.
- Companies that boot must carry their license with them.
- No booting is allowed at private parking lots unless appropriate signage exists warning of booting.
- The charge for booting a vehicle in a private lot, that is not a pay-for-parking lot, cannot exceed $75.
- Boots must be removed within 1 hour after receiving a request to have the boot removed, provided the payment for any booting charge has been made.
- Companies that boot vehicles must provide a staffed phone line 24/7 for boot removal.
- No boot may remain on a vehicle for more than 24 hours.
- Occupied vehicles cannot be booted.
- No more than one booting device can be put on a vehicle.
- Companies that boot must accept cash or credit.
- Vehicle owners will be given a receipt for proof of payment for having a boot removed.
Other options for downtown parking:
The City of Buffalo is reminding anyone coming downtown to utilize city-owned parking. Most areas in the city allow free on-street parking after 5 p.m., with the exception of areas around the Keybank Center and Canalside.
Buffalo also operates several parking ramps which are cheaper than private lots and convenient to downtown areas.
Two of the ramps, Mohawk and Augspurger, are open around the clock and provide access to areas near the Hyatt Hotel, Chippewa Entertainment District and the Theater District by Shea's Performing Arts Center.