At some private downtown parking lots marked ‘public,’ patrons keep getting hit with $100 over fees

If you are not careful, you could end up paying over $100 for just a few minutes of parking in downtown Jacksonville.

It’s an issue News4JAX first started reporting in November and more people are coming forward to detail outrageous parking fees.

MORE: Scrutinized private parking company responds to high overage charges, says downtown parking actually pretty cheap

The signs at the lots in question say “Public Parking,” but read closely, it’s actually privately owned and has lots of rules for you to follow if you park in these spots.

The latest instance of someone being hit with a big fee involved a woman and her friend who parked in a lot on Forsyth Street near the Florida Theatre.

Stefanie emailed News4JAX and said the kiosk was broken at the lot and they had to pay by texting her credit card number to Elite Parking. She said she paid for four hours thinking that would be plenty of time. She says the bill was $12.90 plus a convenience fee. The show ran 24 minutes late.

In her complaint, Stefanie wrote: “I later received a bill for $109.00. How could this company charge $109.00 for 24 minutes of extra parking, when the initial rate was about 12.00 for four hours?!!!!…This seems extreme. I am more than happy to pay the fair cost for parking but this is overboard.”

News4JAX has heard similar stories from other people and so have neighboring businesses who have no control over the parking lots, like Freddie Ghobad of the Casa Dora Restaurant across the street from the lot.

“They come in, they have to look for their car. They don’t want to get an $80, $100 ticket. So it’s a problem. And it’s not people’s fault. The city has to fix that,” Ghobad said.

But the lots are private, and the city has no control over what they charge.

News4JAX on Wednesday reached out to the company that oversees these lots, Elite Parking. In the past, the owner said people need to read the signs and know that there is no free parking no matter what, not even on weekends. The company owner emphasized that Jacksonville has some of the cheapest parking in the United States.

In other similar cases, Elite Parking has refunded some of the money. The company that is enforcing the parking for Elite said it is working on a system to help settle disputes.

In her email, Stefanie said she plans to take some type of civil action.

She has already written to the Better Business Bureau, and on Wednesday the BBB said Elite Parking has a “D-” and that’s because they have not responded.

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