We watched The Parking Lot Movie the other day on Netflix. Now, I love my Netflix for these oddball documentaries. (That and bad sci-fi, but that’s not relevant to this post.)
But something has nagged at the back of my mind for a while. One of the employees admitted that he would arbitrarily charge different prices to different customers regardless of how long they parked because of judgements he would make on their personal status in life.
I realize that as a parking lot owner, you’re probably not that concerned about lawsuits, but having an employee admit it, and then say that he gave the company all of the extra profits from these duped customers, that just screams bad news all around. There’s just something about that admission that doesn’t sit well with me, even though I don’t think I’d fall into the categories of people the guy would charge double the actual fees.
I do recognize that there are plenty of circumstances where people pay different prices for the same goods or service even from the same company – airline tickets or anything from Amazon are the first things that come to mind. But when there’s a posted uniform rate agreed upon at the time you park and then an employee makes a snap decision that isn’t based on time, service, or demand, but on personal traits he doesn’t like in customers, that doesn’t really seem kosher. Is it lawsuit worthy? At the very least, it seems like it wouldn’t be worth the hassle to park there since you never know when the parking lot attendent will have his panties in a twist over something you may have done that offends him – like breathe.
Another thing that stands out is that they described the hiring process which is essentially, “I know a guy.” Okay, that’s fine. Except there were no female employees at all. God forbid if a woman ever applied for a job there and was turned away. I guess what bothers me is that the parking lot featured (in Charlottesville, Virginia, btw) really put itself out there to advertise shady business practices and a hiring process that may not be on the up-and-up. This doesn’t seem like something most small business owners would actually want to do.
Maybe I’m wrong. Perhaps the parking lot in the movie has had even more business than ever. I admit to being thoroughly entertained by the documentary, I’m just not sure that I actually trust anyone associated with the business not to rip me off even if I play by all of the agreed-upon rules.