Dear PoPville – Can a Private Company Issue a Parking Ticket?

Dear PoPville,

If you happen to go CVS on Rhode Island Ave by Home Depot, be aware that if you don’t park INSIDE the Colonial Parking lot you will be ticketed $25 by Colonial Parking.

There are some street parking spaces behind the building and even though it was 9:00 PM, I came back to find a parking ticket issued by Colonial Parking. I went to the DMV website and there’s no record of that ticket.

Is this even legal? it was not issued by the city but by Colonial parking.

45 Comment

  • sounds like an attempt to weasel a few more dollars out of people by using fear

    • By the power of ColonialSkull!!! I declare this ticket valid at all Colonial Garages!! – They might not let you register to park (monthly) in any colonial garage until it’s paid because they keep a record of your license plate, but for the most part it’s bogus.

  • Sounds fishy. The ticket even states that you were parked on a “Public Main Street”. Can’t see how they have jurisdiction here.

  • that’s some shady s#it. i’m pretty sure i, too, can just print off something like that, open a PO box, and start collecting money from unsuspecting people.

  • Call MPD-5d to be sure.

  • i’ve read about people doing this to get $$ from money from motorists … and they’re usually pretty successful. although this sounds sorta legit, might want to check it out. the people responsible usually face enormous punishment … it’s pretty crazy.

  • send them a $50 ticket for harassment.

  • Were you parked illegally?

  • Was it a parking spot that is administered by Colonial? I’ve seen people get similar tickets in public parking lots run by them in Arlington before.

  • seems like a bullshit ticket to me. were exactly were you parked?

  • This sounds fishy. If you are parked outside of the garage why would they care? You are not on their property and if you are parked illegally outside, it is up to the city to issue a ticket not the garage. Sounds like a ploy to get money from you. I would call them and tell you them you are reporting them to the city for harassment.

  • call them 202.295.8100
    I just got one (15 dollars) in a private lot that has 1 hour free parking at Harris Teeter. I went in, bought a sub, ate sub, and returned to my less than 30 mins.

    Went back into HT and suggested that if they like to keep their customers happy they may want to talk to Colonial Parking(They we’re ticking the whole lot)…he said all I had to do was fax over my receipt to colonial….yet when I call Colonial, they have no idea what I’m talking about and say I have to dispute it through the proper channels.

    I’ve already made up my mind I am not paying them. I guess I’ll wait and see if they f’ up my credit over 15 dollars.

    • Is this one of those lots where you push the button on the meter and it gives you an hour? And did you do that? I ask because I sometimes forget to do it in my HT garage, but it doesn’t look like anyone else does either.

      • yep, its in the HT in shirlington. I go maybe twice a week for lunch-I have rarely, if ever press the button…and never have seen or heard about a ticket. Maybe Colonial is having a bad year and figured to step up their fines. Either way I’m not paying.

        • Thanks, I’m glad you shared this story because it will make me better about pushing the button. I’m guessing the lot in Shirlington would have more of a problem with non-HT customers parking there than the garage in the Jenkins Row store I go to so they could just be trying to protect themselves.

          • yep. I agree-if the lot actually had a problem with people parking..and maybe they do after working hours..but its always half empty around lunch time…as it was today…While I’m probably 51.8% in the wrong for not pressing the button..but it doesn’t change the fact that it is essentially a money grab…and to me that’s never right. I’m going dispute the ticket-with Colonial-they will ofcourse rule in their favor-I’m still not going to pay. Credit be damned.

            Credit is a topic for a different day-but the whole system of credit is F’d. I have excellent credit-own a home, car, never missed a payment, no debt on cc, etc…but a 15 dollar fine from a private company will f’ up my credit.-even though I’ve never missed a mortgage payment (I even pay more), credit cards off every month, etc.

            F’ em, I’m not borrowing money for any major purchase for the next 5-10 years anyway. Anyone know how long it takes to repair your credit?

          • ah

            You can always dispute the mark on your credit report. They likely have no easy way to connect your license plate with your credit record-it’s not like they have your social security number, nor can they get it from the DMV.

    • I ignored one of these tickets and then I got a letter from a collecting agency so I think it could affect your credit score. This is in response to the guy that parked at HT, not the OP, who seems to have parked on the street.

    • If you don’t press the button, how is Colonial Parking supposed to know that you were not in Harris Teeter for an hour. You are wrong not to push the buttong – it’s one hour of free parking, and then you have to pay. Regardless of whether you were in Harris Teeter less than hour, there is no way to know unless you press the button to give you a free hour. I’ve gotten that ticket. You can try writing them and explaining, but you should not just ignore it, especially if you park there often. They keep records of license plates and if you rack up too many tickets, they can tow or boot you.

      • Yeah, I know. It’s not that I avoid pressing the button– it’s just not something I’m conditioned to do when I park in a garage and the meters are not obvious so I forget.

        • Meter not obvious? I’ve parked there and as a Harris Teeter customer it annoys me that I can’t park in the spaces designated for me and some shmoe is carrying books to the library. The stickers are very bright and I appreciate HT taking care of their customers.

  • I’m confused as to exactly where you parked. There are no public streets behind the CVS.

  • they cannot ticket you. that would be like me ticketing people for parking on the street bordering my private home property. they have no legal basis for issuing tickets on public streets, and therefore no legal basis to collect $ from you. the only basis they would have is if they owned the land you parked on, it was clearly marked as their property, and they had posted signage about payment. if they did not do these things, i would call or write them and ask for an explanation for the ticket. if they cannot provide one, and i think they will not, just don’t pay it. again they have no legal backing to collect $ on parking tickets. i would probably infom the mayors office as well.

  • No- not a legit ticket. The only ones that can issue parking tickets (notices of infraction) are MPD, DPW, and DDOT. If a private property owner thinks you’re there without permission, they must call 311/911, and an officer will write a ticket at the direction of the property owner. BTW, the fine for parking on private space is $250 first offense, $1000 second offense (or something crazy like that).

  • I’m very curious about this. Where specifically was this person parked? What did any posted signs, if there were any, say on that street?

    This sounds like something the District might want to look into. Outrageous.

    Matt Raymond
    ANC 2F-04

    • There is a street that runs to the metro station that splits the two new apartment buildings. As far as I know this is a public street with multi space DC meters and official signage. I think it is a two hour maximum.

      Regardless there are parking spaces and there are no restrictions noted on any of the signs to my knowledge. Yes the garage says CVS parking, but they can’t force you to park in it if you choose to park in other legal spaces.

  • I guess if you violate the posted rules at a privately owned lot/garage, they can try to collect……if CVS / HTeeter / etc wants to lose your business forever…

    But no way can they ticket on city streets….. unless it is a street-like access roadway, ramp, or “alley” on private property. All those “streets” off Rhode Island Ave NE to Home Despot/Giant, Metro parking, and the other new stores next to Metro, may all be all on private property….

    But maybe a better process than those towing company scum that will tow you off a private lot, and charge outrageous fees.

  • Ignore the fine – I would NOT contact them – that would only give them your contact information. I would then contact your CM and explain the situation. Particularly if they are “fining” you for parking on a public street.

  • How would they legally get your mailing address from your license plate? I would think that only local government has those records.

  • Simple point for the OP – They do not have your name or any other information other than your license plate. Given this, how do you expect them to follow up with collection? DC DMV cannot legally hand over the information affiliated with your license plate without a court-order to do so.

  • OP here….
    Nathaniel 4:08 is correct. I parked on a legal parking space, on the street that leads to the metro station. There’s a meter by those spaces too. I actually don’t mind paying a parking ticket if I was wrong and the city issued me one. But what does Colonial Parking has to do with it????

  • I’ll go take some pics tonite of the street and send to PoP…

  • whats the recourse?

  • You realize the parking companies in DC are as corrupt as the taxi companies, if not more, right? There are persistent rumors about organized crime being affiliated with parking companies.

  • Slap the ticket on a police cruiser

  • Report them to the Better Business Bureau. See if a local TV news show will run something on it. BOGUS!

  • It may not be a legitimate parking ticket, but you will definitely receive a stern letter from a collection agency. I got one of these tickets in Arlington and after getting the collection notice, I decided that it wasn’t worth the time and energy to fight a $25 fine.

    • how did they get your name/address from just your license? Can the DMV just give it away to parking companies? do they have a BAA?

      • If it’s the parking lot outside the Pentagon Row Harris Teeter, I think it may be a quasi-public lot, in that it’s owned or controlled by Arlington County, but managed by Colonial Parking, Inc., so they’d have access to your address via license plate number, I suppose.

  • Colonial controlls the parking in my office building, and they’re trying to get us to switch to auto pay from our bank accounts. However, when you try to enroll, it just doens’t work. Plus, no one is eager to let Colonial have any sort of access to our accounts, given their poor track record.

  • I would at the very least contact the BBB.

  • OP here, (had to change name)

    So Marck Segraves from WTOP read the story here and did the investigating for us. And giving a shout out to PoP:

    I did however send a money order yesterday (Im not sending a personal check, I’m paranoid that way), to whatever was the PO box on the ticket. I know, I know…but I figured that they wont send to credit bureaus today…Living and learning…

    So for those out there parking anywhere: just read ALL signs before you park. I mean ALL.
    EVERYWHERE around you!

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