Can this trip be saved? A full parking lot and a partial refund

Gene Fayvusovich has a little parking problem, and he wants to know if he got ripped off.

Earlier this summer, he prepaid for 12 days of parking at Newark International Airport through a company called Premier Parking.

Total parking fee paid more than three weeks before his departure: $64.

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“When I arrived, I was not allowed to park my car at their location, because lot was full,” he says. “I was advised by the parking lot attendant to park nearby on the other parking lot.”

But the price to park in that lot wasn’t the same. It charged him more than twice the rate he’d paid Premier — $130.

So now Fayvusovich has paid two parking lots for the same service. And here’s where it gets interesting.

He sent an email to Premier, asking for a refund. It took a while, but he finally received the following reply:

I am so sorry that you were turned away and that no one has responded to you. I have credited back to your account the amount $64 onto your card.

Also I am giving you two free days of parking with a reservation of five or more days. When you want to use those days please e-mail me directly. I will be happy to make that reservation for you.

Again, I apologize for the delay.

But wait! Fayvusovich didn’t want the $64 refunded — he wanted the company to credit him for the $130 he had to spend on the other parking lot.

“Needless to say, it was not even close to what I expected from the Premier Parking, and what was requested in my e-mail,” he says. “The denied admission to the parking lot at the day of my travel left me absolutely unprepared. Being constrained in time, I didn’t have any chance to investigate further and ended paying the outrageous fee.”

He adds, “Could you please help me if I’m right — or tell me that I’m wrong?”

The issue of oversales is never directly adressed in Premier’s terms. But it mentions substitutions, which kind of applies:

Very seldom a service a lot was providing may be change without notice. Say from valet to self or covered to uncovered. If a change results in an upgrade to your previous service there will be no extra charge.

If a change results in a downgrade to your previous service we will credit you the difference in price it would have cost you.

Applied to this situation, it would mean Fayvusovich should get a refund of the difference between the Premier lot and the substitute lot.

I can’t find a policy that specifically addresses oversales. But if this were a rental car or a hotel, the industry standard would be to offer him the product he paid for from a competitor at the same cost — in other words, to refund his $130.

I can understand why Premier would want to refund just the $64 and give him a voucher. It’s far less expensive. Also, neither its terms, nor any of its employees specifically promised they’d cover the cost of the second lot. He was simply told to use another parking facility.

I’m conflicted about this case. I know if I were in the same position as Fayvusovich, I’d be upset. I should have received a parking spot for $64. End of story. But technically, Premier made no promises of an available spot when it took his money, and it never said it would cover the cost of the second parking lot.

Should I step in and ask Premier to help this customer — and if so, what do you think he’s entitled to?

83 thoughts on “Can this trip be saved? A full parking lot and a partial refund

  1. This sounds like a contract was created, and that Mr. Fayvusovich fulfilled his side of the bargain. Premier Parking became obligated to provide parking as agreed. Since it did not, Mr. Fayvusovich suffered consequences in having to pay out $130 to someone else. Those are classic contract damages. Mere restitution of the amount paid is not sufficient. If the company will not respond properly, the simple act of filing in small claims court might encourage the company to pay up.

    (There’s an interesting section in their terms in which the company attempts to limit its liability to the amount paid for a parking reservation, but that limitation is qualified as “claims arising from the use of this web site.” This claim appears to arise not from the use of the company’s web site but rather from the company’s failure to provide parking.)

  2. It’s a little annoying to come to read about consumer advocacy and see the advocate with this contrived question about not being sure of what the customer is entitled to. This is a silly question and contrived question to vote on. Please, I enjoy your columns most of the time, don’t insult us by implying that because the parking lot didn’t SAY what they would do you don’t know what reasonable recompense applies, isn’t that your job?

    1. Every Monday I take a borderline case and ask readers to vote on it. I’ve been doing it on this site for the last two years. Truth is, this one was a borderline case, in that the contract didn’t have a provision for oversales.

      1. This is not a borderline case. Its a first year law student contracts question. Without getting into the technical details (LFHO did a good analysis) the OP may elect either to rescind the contract and get the $64 back or he may demand performance and obtain $130 back. Obviously the latter is better or the OP.

        1. Yep. This is basic. The lack of a contract provision simply means that basic common law (common sense) applies. They owe him $130. End of story.

      2. I’m conflicted about this case. I know if I were in the same position as Fayvusovich, I’d be upset. I should have received a parking spot for $64. End of story. But technically, Premier made no promises of an available spot when it took his money, and it never said it would cover the cost of the second parking lot.”

        They “technically” made no promises? Are you kidding me? They took his money in exchange for a parking space for 12 days. How is that not a “technical” promise? And how can you even call this borderline?

        1. You cannot take someone’s money and not provide something. It’s not akin to a no refundable airline ticket. Imagine buying a nonref airline ticket and the airline tells you sorry, we’re full, go away. Ok then, point made. This one is so clear it almost crosses the line to fraud.

      3. Chris I agree with madchickenlittle. I too like your columns but really don’t appreciate voting on your questions. Often they are contrived or biased in their wording. Keep up the good work and if you are looking for a count on readers perhaps there is another way to do it

      4. Maybe I am unreasonably upset because 99.9% of the time I really enjoy your problems and solutions and this one struck me as both obvious and not unduly onerous to figure out. Guy paid, guy was sent elsewhere where he paid again, guy suffered harm because his last minute cost was more than 2x his original payment. I guess I just don’t see it as borderline, but then, I’m not an advocate.

      5. It looks like the company has a SUBSTITUTION clause in their contract which addresses oversales. The questions is whether they actually provided a SUBSTITUTE to the OP. From the looks of it, the OP used another lot that had nothing to do with the original lot since he could not use the prepayment (he made on the website). Was the company or its employees simply negligent? Did the OP go to the wrong substitute lot? Or did the company never planned to offer a substitute lot so there was misrepresentation?

        If you mediate and get the difference of $194 and the $64 already refunded to the OP all you are doing is making the OP whole and keeping quiet about the lot’s shitty service. The real solution is getting the OP back his money and the lot FIXING its OPERATIONAL PROBLEMS so others do not get scammed.

  3. I don’t even know what the issue is here. He paid for a lot and was directed to park elsewhere since it was full. Premier owes him the $130 he paid to do what they told him to do.

    1. Technically, Premier just owes him the difference between what he prepaid and the cost of the new lot not a full reimbursement

      1. No, Premier owes him the $130, since he’s already paid Premier the $64 and he’s out of pocket the $130 to get what he had already paid Premier for.

        1. Actually if you RTFA you will see they already refunded the $64 so all he deserves now is the difference between 64 and 130. If they refund the whole 130 he basically got to park for free which isn’t right either.

      2. OP paid $64 to Premier 3 weeks in advance. OP then had to pay another $130 on the day of departure making a total of $194 the OP paid for parking. Premier needs to make him whole so his total out of pocket cost is $64 so that means they owe him $130.

          1. And if you RTFR (replies), that is what everyone is saying. OP deserves the $130. Premier has already paid $64 of it. They still owe the OP $66.

          2. I clearly state that in fact the OP is owed $130. The story clearly states he got $64 of that back. I didn’t present the math to show what the balance was because I thought people who can read would be able to figure out the difference between what was owed (130) and what was due (66). Maybe that was expecting too much from some people.

      3. Did Chris edit the article to make things clearer? Because as it reads now, Dutchess is 100% correct. He got his $64 back via refund, so now he’s owed the $130 minus the original $64. Yet I see tons of posts saying he’s owed $130, which would result in him parking for free.

  4. Yes, he deserves his full $130 back.

    But that said – Wow! 12 days of parking for $64?!? That’s only like $5.35 a day!

    Rates in Seattle run closer to $12-15 per day at an off-airport lot, and $25 per day at the airport itself. Is ~$5 per day normal for other airports, or was this a great deal?

    1. I realize Omaha Eppley and Kansas City International are nowhere near the size of Newark, Sea-Tac or JFK, but ~$5/day with a coupon or prepayment option is standard for the two airports I frequent. The farther away you park, the cheaper the rate, so I tend to park far away and take the shuttle provided. There’s one motel I stay at in KC that charges $5/day and provides free shuttle service if you stay at the motel either before or after your flight.
      I did have one time where I had to park much closer to the airport than I had budgeted, because the cheap parking lot was out of spaces. (I was using a coupon, not a reserved spot.) Then the rate was something like $9.50/day.
      No mountains, no oceans, but we DO have cheap parking. 🙂

      1. I remember flying out of Sacramento for reasons I won’t get into here. I was researching parking options, and it was only $9 a day for the airport long-term economy lot and maybe $7 a day for the other options, including hotels in the area. The hotels had shuttles, but they were somewhat limited. I used the airport lot and saw shuttles just coming what seemed like every five minutes as I was digging for something in my car.

        A lot of this really location, location, location. Closer to home the airports charge anywhere from $15-22 a day for economy or daily parking. I see the specials at the off-aiport lots are anywhere from $8 to $12 a day.

    2. At the Tucson and Phoenix airports, there is heavy competition and, on the right days, the rates can go as low as $3 a day for parking outside the airport parking lots.

      Were I of an entrepreneurial mind to do so (and if I lived in Seattle), I’d be looking at opening a parking lot (a HUGE one) and charge about $7 a day and make a killing. Rates are determined by the people who use them. If you’re willing the pay $12 a day, the parking lot owners and the airport are more than happy to let you do that.

    3. for the greater NYC area, i’d say this was an INSANE deal!
      (by contrast, LGA charges $33/day for their close-in lots. there aren’t too many outside parking companies to create much competition.)

  5. I say mediate. Premier’s terms seem to suggest that if a service is changed, no extra money needs to be paid. While I can see their reason for NOT paying (ie. You bought a prospective parking place. Our lot was sold out. This was out of our control. There was nothing to sell to you. We’ll give your money back.), I’m sure this kind of thing happens often enough that they could just cover it with a clause that says: In the event our lot is full, you will receive a full refund within xx days.

    If they’re too lazy to add that line to their terms, they should pay up until they do. It’s not like this is a one-time incident.

    1. (ie. You bought a prospective parking place.”

      Actually, it is not a “prospective” parking place. The OP paid them to hold a space open for them. Premier failed in their responsibility. It is not out of their control. They could, if they chose to, block out the number of “reserved” spaces in the lot so the people with reservations would have a parking space. They choose not to do so, so they need to make the OP whole.

  6. Wow that’s cheap parking. I pay $18 a day at JFK. If it is too good to be true then maybe it is? I say just move on and forget parking there, ever.

    1. What is it with some of you people. This is not a comparison of rates between airports parking lots. You want to make it a comparison of rates? Okay. Let’s change the working around. OP prepaid $216 three weeks in advance to park at JFK. On the day he was to travel, the attendant did not allow him to use park even through he has already paid. The attendant’s only option to OP was to park in the other lot and the OP would have to pay an additional $282 on the spot.

      Okay. Given this situation at JFK, do you still think hey should just move on?

      1. Sure, I still say move on because I question the business model of this company. Any outfit that requires PRE-PAYMENT but does not allocate reserved space or a decent alternative, IMO, is a scam. That said what is the point of mediating further with a scam. To perpetuate it?

        1. So you don’t think you should do anything to recover you money from a scam? Well, I have bridge in NY I’m looking to sell…..

          1. I read that he did. Didn’t you read the part that they credited his card back for the amount he was orginally charged?
            BTW I live in the burbs of NYC and co-own a business in the city. I am so used to being scammed that I simply say NO to almost all prepaid deals unless it is some goverment entity behind it (like Ezpass). PAYGO is the way to go for me.

          2. I saw he was credited the original payment. However, he should have been credited the amount he paid to the other lot, not the amount he paid to the first one.

          3. The way I read the SUBSTITUTION clause, it gave the company the right to substitute lots and YOU will pay the difference if it was more or you will be credited if their substitute was cheaper. The key was THEY made the decision which lots to use. If you want to make your own decision if the main lot is full, then I don’t see how you can bind the company to return more than what you paid.

          4. Typical, “screw the customer” clause. Set all the rules and conditions to favor the business so you don’t have any liability. “Oh, we decided not to do what was agreed upon and paid for so here is your money back. But if you don’t hold up your end and fail to show up, don’t expect your money back.”

            Seeing that you co-own a business, I can see why you think the way you do. BTW, what’s the name of your business so I can be sure to avoid it.

          5. It’s called benefit of the bargain. It’s the basis of US contract law. See LRHO’s analysis. At the end of the day the op should have one spot for $64. If the parking company made a good deal it buys a spot for less and makes a profit. If they make a bad deal they lose money. Effectively they bought a spot for 194 and sold it for $64.

          6. I understand your point but who (which party) decides where to EXTEND the parking. If the main parking lot was closed (because it was full), then the company should have a possibility to “right it” by substituting another lot. But if the OP simply left when he saw it full and parked wherever he liked, then that is another story.

            Nevertheless, I agree with your point that prepaid parking is tantamount to reserve parking. I had monthly parking in NYC for many years. Even if the lot had a “lot full” sign I got in. That’s their problem since I prepaid each month. I dropped my SUV in front of the office and it was their problem to park it wherever there was space. I suppose the same applies to anyone who prepays parking. That’s why I mentioned in my earlier post that it is a SCAM to accept prepayment if the company will not reserve space.

        2. Except, Tony, this is a pretty common thing to see at privately owned lots off of airport property. You pay in advance, they give you a discount off the normal rate. I also think it’s a little premature to declare this a scam. Sounds more like a screw-up where they overbooked and got caught with their pants down.

          1. That is why I don’t use them. My mailbox regularly gets stuffed with flyers and coupons from these NYC lots. So I did call one Park and Fly one in JFK and they said they had no space. If I simply booked on the website, I could be screwed.

  7. He paid 12 DAYS IN ADVANCE for the original lot. If during that time their lot was full – 2 options refund his money, OR Park in second lot @ same cost – NO DISCUSSION.

  8. Please mediate.
    From Premier Parking’s own website concerning Subsitutions:
    “Very seldom a service a lot was providing may be change without notice. Say from valet to self or covered to uncovered. If a change results in an upgrade to your previous service there will be no extra charge. If a change results in a downgrade to your previous service we will credit you the difference in price it would have cost you.”

  9. I voted against mediation simply because of the small amount involved, and because standard practice at most facilities I have seen here in the central US standard practice is to refund any amounts paid, and send the customer to find alternate accommodations. With that said though, usual practice is for that to be refunded on site. Oversells happen because parking services do not typically inventory their spaces, and sell just that many. There is a near constant flow of people in and out of the lots daily, and the websites never actually know how many vehicles are going to be in the lot at a given time, nor how many spaces are full versus empty.

    1. “There is a near constant flow of people in and out of the lots daily, and the websites never actually know how many vehicles are going to be in the lot at a given time, nor how many spaces are full versus empty.”

      That does not relieve the parking company of their obligation to fulfill their end of the contract. Do you think they would give the OP back their money if they called the day of the reservation and said they wouldn’t be needing it? I doubt it. So why should the operator be allowed to do the same thing?

      And it is because of attitudes like, “because of the small amount involved”, businesses are embolden to do this crap. “Oh, go ahead and break our agreement. What is he going to do? It’s such a small amount it isn’t worth it for them to take it to court or do anything.” If more people stood up to these businesses, we wouldn’t be having these types of discussions.

      1. Under contract laws of most ststes the liability is limited to la refund of amounts paid. Binder that interpretation of the laws, the OP is limited to recovering the amount paid for the services which were not performed. Even for hotels this holds true. Most hotels will walk a customer to another property, but they are under no contractual obligation to do so. They could simply give you a refund and put you on the street.

      2. The standard proceedure for parking lots is not to enter and pay if the lot is full. Deviating from this standard unless one has reserved parking slot or a monthly is dumb.
        I used to pay hundreds of dollars a month for my NYC parking slot. Not anymore. So today if I drive in to the same lot and the sign says full even if there is such a thing like prepaid, then I am SOL. I will need to find another parking lot.

        1. I used to work in a “downtown” area and got a monthly parking pass paid by my employer, with entry using a proximity card. The sign the put out used to say “LOT FULL (monthly parkers excepted). I could just enter even when hourly customers were turned away. Typically when it was “FULL” there would be a few spaces, but sometimes I went around looking and couldn’t find a space until someone left. I don’t think they had anyone actually tallying the number of cars in the garage, but would eyeball it.

          That was great too. There were special event rates, and my monthly parking was valid even when others were paying $20 prepaid to get in.

          1. The real issue here is associating PREPAY to RESERVED space status. Rightly [or wrongly] people think that just because they prepaid they are entitled to sure parking space at that specific lot. In the case of the OP, I think he thought he was entitled to park anywhere else he wanted and expected the lot to pay for the difference.

            It’s like prepaying for a hotel room and when you check in the hotel is oversold. Common sense tells me that you expect to be WALKED to another hotel of their choice. You cannot simply go to any other hotel of your choice and expect the hotel to refund you the difference.

            That said, I don’t like prepaying for airport parking.

          2. “In the case of the OP, I think he thought he was entitled to park anywhere else he wanted and expected the lot to pay for the difference.”

            The story states…

            “I was advised by the parking lot attendant to park nearby on the other parking lot.”

            So it was the parking company’s employee that sent him to the more expensive lot. It wasn’t the OP’s choice.

          3. If you believe that, then this sounds like a scam (my original opinion). This is not WALKING the customer to another lot. It’s like telling the customer to get lost (while keeping his money).

          4. Reading Edward’s response to your post, you stated that you though the OP was entitled to park anywhere he wanted. Edward was just pointing out that it was the attendant who directed the OP to the other lot.

            Also, this is not a scam. Premier is not a fly-by-night operation. This sounds more like a case of a poorly trained attendant not knowing what to do in this case. It could very well be that there was a space for the OP but the attendant only thought full meant no spaces period.

          5. Going through the process on the web page, you are presented with “Reservation Info” during the process. So this is not a case of Prepaying but actually making a reservation.

    1. This is not a question of if the rate was a deal or not. It is a question of if the parking company has liability to the OP to fulfill a contract entered into by the two parties.

      1. BillW wasn’t claiming that the company didn’t have any liability. sheeeesh. he was just making an observation (and as one who actually worked at LAX, a completely valid one, at that) about the OP getting a good deal on the original lot. my goodness.

        1. Keep your “my goodness” to yourself. BillW only commented on the price the OP paid. His comment doesn’t support your claim of his comment about liability. There was no comment about the actual subject of the situation.

          1. MY GOODNESS! It was a comment that added nothing to the discussion other than to imply the guy should have been happy paying as little as he did. Oh, and as one who PARKS at LAX, I can get parking for around that price too so it was not a valid observation.

  10. I have not heard of paying in advance for a parking place, but this person apparently has apparently because of running into no room available when he arrived. By paying in advance he insured a spot at the $64. A reservation means that you have a spot waiting for you. I think he should sue the company for breach of contract and include aggravation damages.

  11. I recently had a similar situation with excellent resolution from The lot was full when I arrived. They directed me to another lot next door that honored my reservation. No hassle, no problem.

      1. I just checked – it was slightly (70 cents a day) more expensive. Not much, but still some. Btw, airportparkingreservations actually has multiple lots they do business with. I noticed that Premier Parking is in their Newark list. It has mediocre reviews at best. There are a couple of doozey stories in there that are pretty bad – one guy had to hire a cab to get him back to the lot becuse Premiers shuttle was broken.

    1. Your example is exactly how I would hope it would have been handled. I’m rather amazed Premier didn’t have some sort of deal in place to cover this sort of situation. It can’t be unheard of.

  12. It seems pretty cut and dried. They should have either have a spot available or pay for the other lot. If mediation does not help perhaps small claims court.

    As Seinfeld said ” You see, you know how to TAKE the reservation, you just don’t know how to HOLD the reservation. And that’s really the most important part of
    the reservation: the holding. Anybody can just take them.”

  13. This doesn’t seem to be that much different than when someone books a hotel room, it’s no longer available for assorted reasons, and a hotel employee “walks” the customer to a nearby hotel where they make arrangements to pay. I came close to that situation once when I arrived a little bit late and the hotel said sorry – we gave out the last room. But they made it up for my by giving me a suite.

  14. This one kind of throws me a bit. If the parking lot takes pre-payment and reservations for their parking lot, why are they not holding a spot for said reservations? I thought selling something you didn’t have was illegal?

    Yes, mediate this one. The OP deserves his $130 back.

    1. This strikes me as plain vanilla overbooking. It isn’t illegal. It sucks, but it also happens all the time. I don’t see this as being any different than booking a rental car, then showing up at the counter and finding out there isn’t one available for whatever reason. Or showing up at a hotel and they don’t have a room for you at the price level you booked. You get the picture. The difference in these cases is, the service provider either upgrades you to the next class of service at no charge, or comps you a night, whatever.

      1. The difference here is the OP paid in advance. In your situation, it would be like sending the rental car agency money for a discount deal on a rental car, then showing up and finding that they don’t have one, THEN being told to take your business to the next rental car agency down the counter and getting reimbursed for just the discount amount, even though the rate you actually pay is way more.

  15. Mr anti-OP here saying, for about the third time in a week, the OP was “done wrong” (wanted to say something else but this is a family blog).
    It’s not like Premier didn’t know they’d be paid, they already had been so a no-show would mean extra money. If you are going to presell a service, you should have a system in place to make sure that you can provide that service. Premier didn’t do this. They owe the OP for what he actually had to pay for the service they were going to provide not simply refund his money.
    Go get’em Chris.

  16. Unless the Premier site says something to the effect that advance payment does not guarantee a spot in their lot and the customer is only entitled to a refund of the amount paid in advance if the lot is full, they’re stuck for the $130.

  17. If he prepaid for the parking, he should have received the spot. If they screwed up, they should pay for the screw up. Having a full lot is a good situation for a parking company revenue wise. Since they oversold, they should make good on it.

  18. That is why you make a reservation. If he had not shown up, premier would have been more than happy to keep his money. This has happened to me twice at park ‘n goin Atlanta. Both times, the attendant took my keys and, presumably, parked my car when a space became available. I checked my mileage to make sure they weren’t going to just drive my car around and they didn’t. When we got back, the attendant had my keys and they took me to my car. Guess where I park now? Simple customer service got a customer as long as I have to fly out of Atlanta.

  19. Ditto..this is typical of the poor service that is getting rampant ” out there”. A paid reservation is an expectation of service. He should get $130 back and a free voucher an an apology.

  20. What was the point of paying $64 in advance if the parking company couldn’t honor the rate? Parking companies are just all-around shady, no matter where you are or how you look at it.

  21. “Premier made no promises of an available spot when it took his money”… that confuses me. isn’t their entire business to give you a parking spot in exchange for money?

  22. Arriving at a parking lot with a prepaid space and being turned away would be very disconcerting before you leave on a trip. If they took his money online, they should have had a space for him for the amount he paid. So Premier needs to clean up its act.
    But the OP is paying so little for 12 days of parking … even $130 is a good deal (unless parking at EWR is that cheap??) so I would have just walked away. OP is doing people a service by highlighting this potential scam action on the part of Premier.

    1. The amount the OP is paying is irrelevant to the discussion. The fact is the parking company took his money for a reservation (not prepaid – the online process specifically states it as a reservation) and failed to deliver on the contract. It doesn’t matter if they paid 1 cent or $100 a day for parking. Hey did not get what was paid for.

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