Getting the boot: a “lot” of confusion in Fort Lauderdale

WSVN — Drivers parking near Fort Lauderdale’s courthouse are finding their cars immobilized by boots, even if they have paid to park. Investigative Reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.

Machines have replaced people at some Downtown Fort Lauderdale parking lots. The lots come with instructions and trouble if those instructions are not followed exactly.

Edward Fowler: “I was outraged. I was kinda confused. I paid my money. Why am I booted?”

Edward Fowler parked near the courthouse in late April. He says he followed instructions on the machine when he paid to park.

Edward Fowler: “There was an option that required … asked for entering the tag number. I saw option skip it, I skipped it and just went ahead with my business.”

When he returned, in addition to the $10 he paid to park, he had to pay $65 to have boots removed. And he had this sticker on his window saying his “ticket does not match license plate.”

Edward Fowler: “That was annoying and very frustrating because I’m paying $75 to park for less than an hour and a half.”

Premier Booting Services has the contract for the lots. The owner says at one point entering license plate numbers into the parking machines was not required, but now it is.

Andrew Beachler: “That changed about two weeks ago out here.”

But when I asked why Fowler’s car was booted four weeks ago, Andrew Beachler then said he was not sure of the exact date.

Andrew Beachler: “It’s been a few weeks. I’m not the parking operator, but they changed the system to pay by plate maybe four or five weeks ago.”

Today, the very first thing a driver has to do is enter a license plate number at the pay kiosks. But rain or shine, entering your plate number is no guarantee you won’t get the boot. Drivers are instructed to place the receipt on their dash. These women were booted after being accused of not doing that. Their attorney witnessed it.

Jay Arjoonsingh: “And when I saw it myself, first hand, it looked like the parking pass was sort of off to the side.”

He tried to convince the employee of Premier Booting Services that the receipt was there and even called the company. It didn’t work.

Marlon Onias: “You know, personally I felt like I was getting shaked down. So it was a horrible feeling.”

Marlon Onias is another attorney who failed to make a case with the booting company.

Marlon Onias: “I paid for two hours. I come back, it’s about 45 minutes to an hour and there are two boots on my car and I’m like hold on a second. I just paid for my ticket.”

Onias forgot to leave his receipt on the dash.

Marlon Onias: “So it seems like it was a penalty, you know, they slapped me with a penalty for failing to put the daggone ticket on the dashboard.”

But that’s also changed recently according to Andrew Beachler.

Andrew Beachler: “So now if somebody puts their plate and they just didn’t display it and they can show that the ticket matches that plate, we remove the immobilization device for free.”

We watched the lot for days and never once saw employees remove the boot for free. None came off unless the $65 fee was paid.

Carmel Cafiero: “So unless you’ve got money to burn, make sure you read and follow instructions, all of them. And not just in these Fort. Lauderdale lots but throughout South Florida.”

Carmel Cafiero, 7News.


Miami-Dade: 305-627-CLUE
Broward: 954-921-CLUE
You can also send a tweet to @carmelonthecase.