7 On Your Side Investigates complaints about parking websites

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Third party websites promise convenience and discounts for individuals looking for a parking spot in New York City, but 7 On Your Side Investigates found travelers may want to do a little extra homework before booking a spot.

Eyewitness News received multiple complaints from individuals traveling through John F. Kennedy International Airport about bad experiences in various long term parking lots following a previous investigation into one company known as Airlot JFK Longterm Parking.

Most of the travelers had secured reservations through third-party websites that provide booking platforms for parking lots to advertise available spots, but we found several companies advertising parking in New York City with no apparent business license and one company parking vehicles on various neighborhood streets.

"We don't want the cars here," said Gregory Hudson, who lives in the area. "They don't belong here."

Travelers who ended up booking with some of these companies complained about unprofessional service, vehicle damage and even illegal parking tickets.

"I just wanted the nightmare to end," Kathy McFadden said.

McFadden said she initially booked at one lot near JFK ahead of a tropical vacation only to find that lot was full. She said she quickly revisited the booking platform she had used and booked a subsequent backup spot.

But when she returned from her vacation, she spent nearly two hours looking for the keys to her car.

"There were like a hundred other keys in this box," McFadden said. "There was no label put on the keys. There was no tag of any sort."

McFadden had used a website called Way.com.

"I just Googled 'airport parking' and that app repeatedly came up," McFadden said. "So I said, oh, OK, let's try using this app I had never used it before."

Eyewitness News also received complaints about another website called "Spot Hero."

Both companies provide a platform for businesses to advertise parking spots but do not own or operate the parking facilities listed for reservation.

"So you can't trust them to say this is a good place," McFadden said.

In response to inquiries from Eyewitness News, a spokesperson said Spot Hero requires companies to "comply with all local, state and federal laws."

"We appreciate you bringing these licensing matters to our attention," she said. "Spot Hero is investigating the situation and plans to take action accordingly. "

As of the publishing of this article, Spot Hero has already removed at least one company we inquired about from its platform.

Way.com never responded to repeated requests by phone and email for information.

The company's disclaimer warns customers that the website "is not responsible for unlawful or otherwise objectionable products."

The Way.com disclaimer also advises consumers to "use your best judgment and exercise caution."

McFadden says Way.com did credit her account for the initial booking in the sold-out parking lot, but she said the company has yet to address her complaints about the second company she booked with or the quality of the companies on the Way.com platform.

"And that's a problem for me," she said. "I'll never use it again."

The Department of Consumer Affairs and the Department of Buildings are investigating several businesses advertising on these websites for illegal activity in response to inquiries from Eyewitness News.

Booking with an unlicensed company puts consumers at a higher risk and limits the resources they will have should a problem occur.

Before booking a parking spot online, consumers can check for a vehicle's license by visiting the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs website.

----------
DO YOU NEED A STORY INVESTIGATED? Danielle Leigh and the 7 On Your Side Investigates team at Eyewitness News want to hear from you! Call our confidential tip line 1-877-TIP-NEWS (847-6397) or fill out the form BELOW. You can also contact Danielle Leigh directly:

Email your questions, issues, or story ideas to 7OnYourSideDanielle@abc.com

Facebook: DanielleLeighJournalist

Twitter: @DanielleNLeigh

Instagram: @DanielleLeighNews

Copyright © 2019 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.