Folks looking for a parking spot near Lincoln Road's Regal South Beach movie theater need to stop using the private lot on 17th Street at Lenox Avenue. Because it's becoming increasingly clear that's the only surefire way to avoid getting your car hitched by Tremont Towing and having to pay a couple hundred bucks to retrieve it. Over the past month, Banana Republican has reported two incidents involving drivers whose vehicles were towed even though they paid a meter to station their cars in the lot, which looks like the ones operated by the City of Miami Beach in order to fool motorists.
In one case, freelance journalist Kris Conesa mistakenly paid the city meter instead of the lot's private meter. In the other, family man Eduardo A. Pagan Torres forgot to place his receipt on the dashboard. Both men had to fork over $241 each to get their rides back.
Now, Hanni Von Metzger, a Miami Beach resident since 1963, says she came close to becoming another Tremont victim April 27 when she went to the movies.
As she walked to the meter located inside the lot, two men ran ahead of her to use the machine first, Von Metzger relays. "They punched in the keys like they were going to pay," she says. "But then they just walked away. I didn't think anything of it."
Von Metzger says she pressed one of the keys to input her information. The meter asked her to swipe her credit card, so she did. She paid $10 for two hours. However, when she looked at the receipt, she noticed it had a tag number that didn't belong to her car. "I was going to put it on my dash anyway," Von Metzger says. "But a man who was parked next to me told me not to do it because I would get towed."
He informed her that people working for Tremont run up to the meter, punch in a tag number, and then walk away. The next person in line doesn't know to clear the screen and start over, so the receipt prints out the wrong tag number. Because it doesn't match the tag on the car, Tremont can use that as a reason to tow the vehicle, the good Samaritan allegedly told Von Metzger.
She then saw the two dudes who ran up to the meter. They were leaning against a car with a license plate that matched the numbers on her receipt. "I asked them if they wanted to give me the ten bucks since the receipt had their tag number," Von Metzger relays. "They just laughed at me."
An incensed Von Metzger says she just paid the meter again and threw away the receipt with the wrong license plate. She then called the Miami Beach Police Department to complain. Her call was transferred to the city's parking department.
"After being placed on hold for ten to 15 minutes, I spoke to a customer service representative, who was not helpful at all," Von Metzger says. "She's like, 'Haven't you read the newspaper? That's a private parking lot.' She said there is nothing the city can do about it. That lot is giving Miami Beach a really bad image."
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(Neither Tremont nor the lot's owners have returned multiple calls from Riptide to respond to the various allegations from drivers.)
So there you have it, folks. Don't want your car towed? Don't park in the lot on 17th Street at Lenox Avenue.
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