CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - Marty McKeever paid to park his car in a private lot. He ended up getting a $150 bill and a boot on his car.
"It feels like I've been stolen from," said McKeever. "It feels like they extorted me. They held my car hostage."
McKeever paid $5, according to a printed receipt, to park for half a day at space number 12 at a lot located at Sixth and Smith in uptown. The lot is now under construction but wasn't at the time.
"The ticket machine....takes my credit card, I enter my space number," said McKeever, pointing to where teh ticket machine had been before it was removed. "It says verifying space, space verified."
Despite signs advertising "Monthly Daily/Event Parking Available," McKeever returned from work to find a boot on his car and a bill on his windshield. E-Z Parking, which owns the lot, says he was "parking illegally" because the "parking lot is closed."
There was nothing to indicate that, McKeever said.
"It feels like theft," he said. "I didn't do anything wrong."
E-Z Parking gave him a $25 ticket. Wheel Blockers, which booted his car, charged him $125 to remove the device.
"It seems willy-nilly," he said. "The lot wasn't closed. The lot was open. There were plenty of cars parked here."
Each car had a ticket and a boot, he said. Wheel Blockers, which has more than two dozen complaints with the Better Business Bureau, says they were instructed to boot the cars by E-Z Parking.
E-Z Parking ignored multiple requests for comment, over several weeks, including by phone, email and in person.
"They said there's nothing they can do the lot is closed," McKeever said he was told when he called them to dispute the charges.
So he turned to FOX 46 to get results.
FOX 46 asked CMPD if this is something they would investigate. Police said this is a civil matter and privately owned lots are "not something that CMPD would investigate."
"The booting of a vehicle on a privately owned lot is not a crime and it is a civil matter," said Lt. Brad Koch with CMPD. "This is why we refer all individuals who have a complaint to civil court if they have an issue. Our only job at those scenes is to keep the peace."
Signs must clearly state when a lot is open and when it is closed, according to attorney Brad Smith, who says one remedy is to take the lot owners, or the towing company, to court.
"If you pay somebody money that you believe wasn't justified," said Smith, "you can see them in court."
But McKeever won't have to go to court any time soon. After FOX 46 started asking E-Z Parking questions they immediately sent McKeever an email apologizing for "any inconvenience" with an offer for a full refund.
"I'd like to thank Matt Grant and FOX 46 for bringing this story to a successful resolution," said McKeever, who got his money back. "You've been really helpful. I appreciate it. You're an asset to the community."