City Investigating Parking Tickets At Private Parking Lots

These parking tickets come in a bright yellow envelope.

And unlike their bright orange cousins the City of Chicago issues, these parking tickets were stuck to vehicles parked at downtown parking lots.

Based on a Chicago Sun-Times investigation, many drivers who normally use a parking lot at 550 W. Kinzie, came back to find the yellow envelopes on their cars. The tickets were “issued” due to lack of payment.

The truth was, some drivers admitted to the Sun-Times they didn’t pay for parking. However, the payment kiosk that day was not working. Without an actual human being on the premises to accept payment, regular drivers parked anyways.

Many frustrated drivers ended up going to the online payment website and paying their fine. But now, these motorists may get a refund.

Now the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection is investigating and are conducting investigations of all 52 lots managed by ABM Industries. In addition, the city has issued a subpoena for more records from ABM, which could lead to a deceptive practices charge against the company and possible compensation to the ticketed drivers.

The problem is not as simple as the private lot owner cannot issue parking tickets in their own lot. It seems they can.

However, proper signage must be posted warning drivers parking in these lots of what can occur if they do not follow the rules. At this particular lot, it seems proper notice was not given.

Here’s the Sun-Times full story, “Drivers hit with private-parking lot tickets may be due refund.”

GEEK TIP: We don’t advise paying any of these parking ticket issued at or in a private parking lot or garage.

Mainly because there’s no way to really enforce these. These tickets are meant to confuse the driver into paying. Not only is there not a way to adjudicate this alleged violation like you can do with the city, but there’s no real way to enforce payment.

If the vehicle was trespassing, it could have been towed.

But if a “ticket” was issued, how can the company collect if the driver refused to pay? They can’t boot the car. There is the possibility of sending it to collection, but that’s probably a longshot as well.

The best advice would be to contact parking lot management and resolve the issue with them. In the case of unpaid parking due to a malfunctioning paybox, it would seem reasonable that the lot would just want to be compensated for the normal daily charge. It would be shocking that the fine was not waived.

But in general, don’t pay these fines.

9 Responses to City Investigating Parking Tickets At Private Parking Lots

  1. Joe says:

    Thank you for the explanation, I was wondering what enforcement mechanism there was. I guess the operator just issues the ticket knowing X% will not be paid and that some money is better then nothing.

  2. Pete says:

    It doesn’t surprise me that some people are stupid enough to pay a “parking ticket” issued by a private lot operator, as if anything could possibly be done to compel payment.

  3. Drew says:


    A few of us at (one of 2 Revenue Sites) were discussing this today.

    And the point was made that Business and Consumer Affiars should be checking to find out if these Lots that are managed by ABM Industries are actually leased City Lots, the city should revoke the Lease and take over management on a day to day basis.

    Department of Finance is more than happy to staff them with Cops on Disability or Light Duty City Employees 24 hours a day.

  4. Mike says:

    I got one of those tickets in the Edgewater neighborhood. I was parked in a LAZ parking lot and my pass had fallen from the rear view mirror. I got a $50 or $60 ticket, fought it, and they negotiated it down to $10. I shrugged my shoulders, paid the ten bucks, and months later got a notice from a debt collection agency. Yes, I was pissed. The website for payments is the same one as listed in the article.

    I emailed LAZ parking and called the debt collectors. I hope the matter is resolved, but I won’t hold my breath. I looked up the debt collector on the Better Business Bureau website and that company does have a lot of complaints.

    I’ll keep everyone posted!

  5. Pete says:

    If hounded by a debt collector for some bogus parking ticket, you can always send them a “put up or shut up letter” (I’m too lazy to google for the legal name of it). Basically it means they either have to sue you or quit contacting you. They’ll quit contacting you, as a lawsuit would require them to go to court and prove their case which they could not possibly do.

    This advice probably does not apply to Chicago city tickets, as they own the courts and thus don’t have to prove shit. But never pay a private parking ticket, as there is nothing they can or will do to force payment.

  6. David says:

    Pete wrote:
    This advice probably does not apply to Chicago city tickets, as they own the courts and thus don’t have to prove shit. But never pay a private parking ticket, as there is nothing they can or will do to force payment.

    My Comment:
    This is one of the biggest problems with the deal with Laz. The City is acting as the enforcer for Laz. Laz should be forced to do what every other person that is owed unpaid money is entitled to do. Go to Court and seek to collect. If, for example, I sell something to someone for future payment and they do not pay I cannot go to the Police and make them pay nor can I simply take the item back (for if I do, its theft). I must avail myself of the legal system. And that’s what the parking ticket enforcement should be — Private companies protecting private rights through the Court system.

  7. DoR Employee says:

    Mike…screw calling LAZ about that shit.

    Contact the Cities Office of Business and Consumer Affairs.

    Remember…LAZ has the city paybox and lot concession. They must follow the Rules better than all others..or else risk a cancellation of the Lease for CAUSE.


    LAZ is the repair arm of CPM. CPM has their own Ticket writers and then there is of course Ser Co.

    This of course brings up the point that No Private Company should be legally entitled to Issue Municipal Citations whatsoever. But the Revenue PEA’s Union is to blame for Ser Co getting the Contract to work Nights and Weekends instead of them. Union demanded a high shift premium for a over-night shift.

  8. Mike says:

    DOR, I thought about calling the city after seeing this article, but it’s only $10. Not sure if its worth the effort. However, if they don’t straighten their books out, I may have no other recourse than contacting the city. Thanks though.

  9. A. Castro says:

    This story reminds me of a day in 2011 where I parked at a private lot near 91st/Buffalo so I can use the Metra. I knew I was going to be parked for 5 hours, but I only paid for 2 hours since all I had was $2.50 in change. As a result, I kept the receipt in the car but had it well-hidden. When I finally returned to my car, I found that I got a ticket at 10:00 AM. My receipt didn’t expire until 12:00PM, so instead of paying the ticket, I sent in the receipt and the ticket and that was it… I could’ve paid the $10 but why pay when the proof is on your side?

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