If you have been in the Fort Sanders area of Knoxville, you know parking can be a challenge. There is a parking garage at the medical center, but out on the street, most spaces are metered. There are also private parking lots.
A parking meter violation in Downtown Knoxville is $11. Violations are managed by the city via meter readers.
On the other hand, there are many private parking lots throughout the city and East Tennessee. Kim Pierce says she was not prepared for “ticket shock” when she received a summons after parking in a private lot.
Pierce says she parked in a private lot next to Fort Sanders Medical Center on August 7 in spot 41, but she misread it as spot 47.
“I got to the machine, I accidentally hit 4-7. At the time, I thought this was a seven when I looked at it. That was a mistake on my part. And I paid for number 47,” said Pierce.
Pierce had driven to Knoxville to visit a doctor and parked in the private lot owned by Premier Parking. Though there is no parking attendant, there are clear and prominent signs on the lot with payment notices and other requirements. There are also several signs at the pay booth.
The lot is patrolled by by an attendant who works for a collection company called Parking Revenue Recovery Services. If you have never parked at the lot before, you have to read the instructions carefully before inserting your stall number and making your payment with either a card or exact cash.
Then, you’re required to place your receipt on the dashboard of your vehicle. That final bit of information is displayed at the bottom of the pay booth.
“I came up to the machine, scanned my debit card. It brings up the information on the machine, which is really hard to see,” said Pierce.
The copy of her receipt for stall 47 indicates she paid $5 for eight hours.
“I went in for my appointment, didn’t think anything of it. I did take the receipt with me,” she said.
A $60 fee greeted Pierce after visiting her doctor.
“When I came out and saw the $60 ticket on my dash, I thought I was going to have a heart attack,” she said.
Pierce believed she was fined because she had parked in stall 41, but inserted number 47 when she paid. She said that in August, there had been no one to talk to at the lot. The reason given in the notice from Parking Revenue Recovery was “no payment in the machine.” However, there is a receipt showing she paid to park.
Remember the patrol attendant? Seeing us in the lot, he asked Pierce if she had left the receipt on the dash of her truck. It took her a moment or two to think back.
“No, I did not,” she said.
That was the issue, he said. In August, she had not put her receipt on the dashboard of her vehicle, so the attendant didn’t know if she had paid her fee.
Pierce filed an appeal. In its response, Parking Revenue Recover Services said, she had “not followed the posted instructions in the parking lot.”
Though her appeal was denied, they agreed to settle the fine for $40 as a courtesy.
Since WATE 6 On Your Side spoke with Pierce, Premier Parking voided the $40 fine. Pierce is pleased about that.
Parking Revenue Recovery says it did nothing wrong and that customers must read the signs and follow the directions. They also said its $60 fine is an industry-wide violation for private lots.
Pierce thinks the fine is excessive.
“I’m actually fighting for other people than I am myself. I can’t imagine my grandparents getting charged $60 for a $5 parking spot,” she said.
The representative for Parking Revenue Recovery Services in Denver defended the company saying it serves a public service to the community and that if someone is given a $60 fine, there is a “fair appeals process” and the appeal is responded to as quickly as possible.