A few weeks ago, Tatiana Arcia parked her car in what she thought was a public lot near McFarlane Road and South Bayshore Drive in Coconut Grove. When she returned less than ten minutes later, boots were locked on three of her wheels. A Premier Booting Services employee was about to affix a bright-orange sticker to her window. "Warning: Your vehicle has been immobilized!" it read.
"I begged him to take it off," says the 35-year-old Arcia, who had stopped to grab a smoothie from Choices Cafe. "He was like, 'It's too late.'"
That's probably a familiar tale of woe to anyone who has risked leaving their car for a few minutes without paying, overstayed a parking pass, or even had the misfortune of their receipt sliding off their dashboard. Though it's not as costly as being towed, getting a boot off doesn't come cheap — and it's likely about to get pricier. Miami-Dade County commissioners last month gave initial approval to hike the maximum rate to remove boots.
Under the ordinance, which is set for a public hearing before the Government Operations Hearing Committee this Tuesday, the rate would jump from $32 to $46 if the booting device operator is still on the scene and from $65 to $92 if the operator has already left.
The county explains that the rate has not been changed since 1999 and that industry costs have "increased substantially." Tow rates were increased last year as well.
Oddly, Premier Booting Services already charges $89. That's the rate Arcia says she ended up forking over after her pleas fell on deaf ears — and even though the operator was still on the scene.
"I know I messed up. I know I should have paid the dollar for the eight minutes," she says. "But the punishment went from a dollar to $89."
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That's also the rate the company charged three years ago when it booted the vehicles of people who were raising money for charity and had parked in a lot to which Miami Police had directed them. (After New Times wrote about that episode, everyone received refunds and the company pledged to donate to the cause.)
Premier didn't immediately respond to New Times' request for comment about why it already charge a higher rate.
In Arcia's case, she ended up getting her money back after she complained to the city about the Premier employee refusing to give her his name or show identification. She says the owner of the company called and then refunded her.
Not everyone is so lucky. So a word to the wise: Be careful where you park.