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An Expensive Lesson – Pay before You Leave


I learned an expensive lesson this trip. When you park at a Premium Parking lot in New Orleans, you must pay before you walk away from your car. You can probably guess that I did not do that…

And after a couple of hours of walking around and enjoying the sights, we came back to continue on our roadtrip to Texas to a boot on our rental car AND a sticker notifying me of a $90 fee to get the boot removed! Ugh!

At first, I thought it was an error. I thought maybe someone who had this rental car before us had not paid something and we were getting held accountable for it. It was very frustrating, especially since we had over 7 more hours to drive that day.

As I read the notice, and realized that we were booted because we had not pre-paid, I began to look around for signs that indicated that prepay was required. This was all I could see from the car…No pre-pay notice.

Needless to say, I had to call the number, pay the $90 and wait for them to come release us. All in all in took over 1 and 1/2 hours from the time we arrived back at the car until we were on the road again. Precious time when you are on a roadtrip, not to mention the money, I had not budgeted for. Again, ugh!

We did finally see a pre-pay notice…on our exit from the lot at the back of the lot!!!

Needless to say, I am going to dispute the charge and file a complaint and praying I can get that $90 back. But no guarantees.

As often as I have flown by the seat of my pants when it comes to finances, this was another lesson on why it is important to have a cushion and plan as much as you can for the unexpected. I was very grateful to have some extra built into my travel budget so this fee did not cause a hardship on the rest of our trip. And in the past, it very well could have!

We all experience car wrecks and car issues, medical emergencies and household challenges that can strain our finances. Have you ever been surprised by something like this that you truly don’t believe you should have to be responsible for?




  • Reply JP |

    I am not sure how you could dispute it. Of course you have to prepay in parking lots without guards and gates. IF there is no guard there why would you pay after? Plus you signed for the charges. Just a lesson learned.

  • Reply Denise |

    Ouch! But it is a good reminder to have an emergency fund and a little cushion in your finances! Good luck disputing it – some places will show kindness if you are not from the area, though I wouldn’t hold your breath. Thanks for being humble and sharing your story – it will no doubt help others!

  • Reply OneFamily |

    Yes, unless it’s got a manned ticket booth with a gate to get out of, you must pay before you leave, just like at sidewalk parking meters. Ouch $90 hard lesson.

  • Reply angie |

    That stinks. I bet you learned your lesson!

    I once got up to go to work one morning and my car was missing. I thought it was stolen but instead my apartment complex had my car towed. They “couldn’t see” my sticker. I absolutely fought that one!

  • Reply Laura |

    I doubt you will be successful disputing this. That was all you could see from the car but you also said there were signs elsewhere in the lot.

    • Reply Hope |

      We were! We did very well in fact. By cutting one night in a hotel out on the way down, and not having to pay for any food at all during our stay in Texas…my budget was perfect and gave me some wiggle room for some fun spending.

  • Reply Meg |

    We got a speeding ticket in the mail after we had returned from a trip. We had rented a van and the ticket was routed to us through the car rental agency. I paid the over $100 ticket and then tried to figure out how it happened. We used valet parking at our hotel and unbeknownst to us they drove the vehicle to a parking area a couple blocks away and the driver got a ticket from a red light camera. Hotel and parking company each claimed it was the others problem and I eventually gave up trying to get reimbursed. We paid the hotel for the parking so it really was their problem, but the person I was emailing at the hotel quit, blah blah blah. I should have persisted longer. This also happened in New Orleans!

  • Reply Christiane Wohlhaupter |

    If I am not handed a ticket when entering (either by a machine or a human), I generally assume that I need to pay upfront.

    Like others have said: I’m also sceptical that you’ll get your money back. Think, Ignorantia juris non excusat

    Don’t let it discourage you though . That’s something you’ll remember next time for sure.

So, what do you think ?