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March 26, 2014

City of Chicago's BACP Reaches $45,000 Settlement After Investigating Deceptive Parking Ticket Scheme

Funds to be Used for New ‘People Plaza,’ Consumers to Receive Restitution in Parking Coupons for Receiving Unfair Fines

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 26, 2014

CONTACT: Mika Stambaugh
Mika.Stambaugh@CityofChicago.org
(O) 312.744.5365
(C) 312.805.9385

 

The Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) has reached a settlement with ABM Parking Services after investigating deceptive business practices at the company’s surface parking lots throughout the City. ABM will pay $45,000 that will fund the initial capital investment for a “People Plaza” located within the City, and consumers who paid fines to ABM will receive parking vouchers from the company.

“The City of Chicago makes consumer protection a priority, and we will not tolerate unfair or deceptive business practices,” said BACP Commissioner Maria Guerra Lapacek.  “We strongly encourage consumers to call 3-1-1 if they have been treated unfairly by a business so we can continue to crack down and eliminate bad business practices.”
After complaints were made regarding parking “violations” issued by the parking facility, the City investigated the matter. The investigation was conducted by BACP’s consumer investigations unit which regularly investigates consumer protection issues throughout the City.

The investigation revealed that patrons were subject to tickets placed on their windshields asking them to pay a fine for violating various parking guidelines that were not clear to customers, and some customers refusing to pay the fine were turned over for collection. The investigation also found that ABM had issued more than 11,000 tickets to consumers.
As part of the settlement, customers who received and paid for ABM parking tickets, notices, violations or collection notices between January 15, 2012 and January 15, 2014 will receive two free parking vouchers for each ticket they paid and a letter explaining that the non-payment of these tickets will not impact their credit record.
ABM will discontinue the practice of unfair ticketing and now has 90 days to alter their sales receipts to include a breakout of the taxes charged and to post new signage at all parking locations indicating any additional fees and/or charges.

ABM fully cooperated with City attorneys and agreed to a settlement to provide restitution to the affected consumers and to provide the capital investment for a “People Plaza” in an underserved neighborhood. People Plazas activate existing Department of Transportation malls, plazas, and triangles with the introduction of new programming and retail opportunities with public and private partners. These opportunities will be made available through a bidding process that will ensure local partner involvement, and increased levels of maintenance and programming to these public spaces.
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