Chicago parking garage added incorrect fines and fees to totals, some customers say

ByJason Knowles and Ann Pistone WLS logo
Saturday, March 11, 2023
Chicago parking garage added incorrect fines and fees to totals, some customers say
Chicago parking can be costly and stressful, and some people say some parking garages are adding incorrect fines and fees to their totals.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Parking in Chicago can be stressful and costly. A suburban woman said after one parking company incorrectly added extra fees and fines, she fought back.

The I-Team found she is one of several people who have been battling what they call unfair fines.

When Hilary Weiss of Northbrook needed to drive into the city, she says she took extra precautions.

"I hesitate to go into the city because I don't like parking garages for this exact reason. So I was very conscious and very aware of where I was parking," she said.

She thought she found a good price at a LAZ Parking garage in Old Town, until she said she "received in the mail a notice that I owed $80 because I had parked in a location in the garage that wasn't for the public, and that it was private parking."

A collection company also sent her dark photos of her car, even though she paid to park.

"I wasn't going to give them a penny. And so I did fight it and send a number of letters and messages and filed my Better Business Bureau complaint," Weiss said.

She eventually got LAZ to reverse those charges. The Chicago BBB said others are still fighting similar types of disputes.

Brianna Byard regularly parks in the downtown Presidential Towers parking garage and uses auto pay for her monthly LAZ Parking bill.

"November, December, and January invoices for my monthly parking or incorrect, and had an additional $50 fee attached to them. That's a lot, that's some groceries, that's a meal," she said.

Byard never paid the extra money, but getting rid of the charge took months of calling and complaining.

LAZ said it implemented a new billing system at this location and "The error was corrected and the customer's account has been credited. We appreciate the customer bringing this to our attention and we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused."

Better Business Bureau President Steve Bernas said LAZ Parking has had an unsatisfactory record with his organization for most of its existence, starting in 2010.

"LAZ parking currently has an F rating with the Better Business Bureau, And the reason they have that rating is they do not at all respond to any customer complaints brought to their attention by the Better Business Bureau," he said.

In the last three years, consumers have filed 29 complaints about LAZ Parking's Chicago location. Many of those complaints are similar to Weiss's dispute.

"One of the areas is that consumers have alleged they've been overcharged by LAZ parking either through their app or in person, or after they get home they get notification that they had violations, which they were unaware of," said Bernas.

A company spokesperson told the I-Team, "LAZ Parking prides itself on excellent customer service and we are currently working with the BBB to streamline inquires and address customer concerns in a more timely manner."

If you need to park in the city, how can you avoid problems?

"Put the garages information into Google and search it and see what comes up. You have to delve a little deeper and check out the company, offer, building, garage, whatever it may be, before doing business with them," Bernas recommended.

Weiss said her story is a reminder to dispute unfair charges.

"I understand why a lot of people don't fight it because it's easier just to pay the money," she said.

You also may want to use your phone to take pictures of your vehicle when you park in a spot. This may help prove that you correctly parked and followed the rules, in case you need to dispute a charge.