SpotHero is an app that lets you reserve parking in advance. It seemed like a cool idea, so I installed it and gave it a try when I had a business lunch on Tuesday. I entered the name of the restaurant in Hollywood and SpotHero showed me a map of parking spots near the restaurant. I found one on the corner of Argyle and Sunset for $6.
When I arrived at the parking lot, I found that the entrance was barricaded. A worker standing by the entrance told me that the entire lot had been rented for the day. I showed her my SpotHero reservation, and she called for the lot attendant who came over told me the same thing. He said I could go to another lot at the corner of Hollywood and Vine and that I "might be able to work something out with them." He described the lot, but when I drove there I couldn't find the lot he was talking about, and I had my doubts that they would let me park there anyway.
At this point, I was already late for my meeting. Fortunately, I found a metered spot in the street, which is rare for this area, and paid $8 for 2 hours. So I ended up being late and paying $14 for parking.
After my meeting, I contacted SpotHero through Twitter to let them know about the problem with the lot. I received a reply on Wednesday morning:
This is Emily from SpotHero, our Social Media Monitor passed your information along to me. I'm so sorry that this location was not accepting SpotHero reservations when you arrived! Can you please let me know what time you arrived? Unfortunately, this location had not confirmed with us that they would be renting out their lot, and I am incredibly sorry for the trouble. We'll be following up with the location to see why they were closed during your reservation to ensure that this does not become a recurring issue.
Can you tell me a little more about what happened? Were you able to find parking somewhere else? Did you have to pay a fee to park in that other spot? If so, please send me the receipt from where you ended up parking, or your bank or credit card statement showing the charge, and I will make sure to refund you right away! I will also make sure to credit your SpotHero account the difference if the new spot was more expensive.
I wrote back to Emily later that day and explained what happened. I added:
Your offer for a credit is a nice gesture, but I think the following is more fair:
– A refund of $14 ($6 for my SpotHero charge [receipt attached] and $8 for the parking meter [receipt attached]).
– A $20 SpotHero credit as a token to compensate me for the hassle of looking for another parking spot, the stress and embarrassment of being late for a business meeting, and the time it has taken for me to work with SpotHero to correct the problem.
On Thursday, someone named Dori contacted me. She wrote:
Thanks so much for reaching out, and I'm so sorry that this location was closed when you arrived! Unfortunately, this location did not confirm with us that they will be closed, and I am incredibly sorry for the trouble. We'll be following up with the location to see why they were closed during your reservation to ensure that this does not become a recurring issue.
After reviewing the documentation you sent us, i went ahead and refunded your SpotHero reservation back to your card, i also credited your account with $5 to cover the difference in price and for the inconveniences.
Please remember in the future, if there an issue at the entrance, you can always give us a call directly at (312) xxx-xxxx, and we will help you find a new spot. Looking forward to getting this resolved!
My reply included the following:
Did you read the email I sent? I spent $8 at a parking meter. The $5 credit doesn't cover that, not to mention the time and hassle incurred as a result of using SpotHero. I'm disappointed you didn't compensate me fairly for this inconvenience.
I will not require the $5 credit as I won't be using SpotHero again.
That was 23 hours ago, and I haven't heard back. My verdict: use SpotHero at your peril.
[Update – SpotHero replied to my email less than an hour after I posted this review:
Thank you for reaching and I'm so sorry the location was fully rented out to another party. We're dedicated to empowering our drivers to get where they need to go with confidence, and your experience definitely did not meet our ideals.
I've escalated this along to one of my managers who will be in touch shortly. Once again, I am truly sorry for the inconvenience you had at this location. Know that the heroes are always here to help, no matter the issue. Please don't hesitate to reach out if there's anything I can do in the meantime!
Beware of @SpotHero bait & switch! The company will "auto extend" and will charge you more. I paid $20 for 4 hours of parking. It would have been $9.60 if I paid on site – what a rip off!! I asked for a $10 refund which would have been fair but their service team said no! #ripoff
— DrThea Rachel Zunick (@thearachel) December 12, 2019
Today I received an email from SpotHero:
I lead the Customer Care team at SpotHero. One of my teammates forwarded your email and I wanted to respond directly to close the loop.
First, I'm sorry to learn that you had a bad experience with SpotHero. Any time a parking reservation doesn't go smoothly is a huge miss for us. The spot you reserved on our app should have been available when you arrived, and it wasn't. We've already followed up with the facility's management team to identify the issue and make sure it doesn't happen again. Since SpotHero doesn't operate the parking facilities listed on our platform, sometimes miscommunications do happen, as was the case here. On this front, we failed.
In the event that a reserved space isn't available upon arrival, our phone support team can instantly relocate your reservation and route you to another nearby facility. If a driver makes alternative arrangements, our approach is to a) Refund the original payment and b) Credit the difference between your payment to SpotHero and payment at your alternative parking. In your case, we refunded you and also gave $5 credit, which covers the $2 delta plus an additional $3.
I understand that this resolution didn't seem proportionate to the issue you experienced. I will keep this in mind as we reevaluate our policies for the future. Feedback like yours is vital as we continue to grow, and I do appreciate it.
While I can fully understand that you may choose to keep parking the traditional way, if at some point you'd like to give parking with SpotHero another try we'd love to have a second shot, and we've added some credit to your account so that the next park is on us.
Thanks for your time, and sincere apologies for the inconvenience.
I appreciate hearing from you. Thanks for explaining your policy and rationale for the compensation I received. I don't think it is sufficient for the hassle I experienced, but your customer service team was polite and I am grateful for that.
I won't be using your service ever again, and have deleted the app, so you make take off the $5 credit.
I wish you and SpotHero well.
By the way, TrustPilot gives SpotHero 1.5 out of 5 stars.