The car2go car that wouldn’t go is gone.
Three weeks to the day after Dan Smith built a fence around a Mercedes-Benz that had been improperly parked on the Queen Anne property he manages — a frequent problem in parking-challenged Seattle — the dispute was resolved and the car towed.
He and Share Now, the company which operates car2go in Seattle, worked out a “settlement agreement” that acknowledged his grievance and covered his expenses, Smith said.
“In the end it went very well and in the end both parties are happy,” he said on Friday. “The big problem was that the person who took the first call was new and didn’t route it to the right manager. My opinion of car2go is much better now.”
On May 17, a member of Share Now parked the Mercedes in a spot usually used by one of Smith’s tenants. It’s not uncommon for people to park on the property and he’d had enough, Smith said.
He called the company, but they didn’t call back for hours. When they did call and he offered to move the car himself, he was told he could not because he is not a member of the car-sharing service.
He called the police and they told him to call a tow company, he said. But the tow companies told him to call police.
Frustrated, the 57-year-old mental-health counselor came up with his own solution. He installed metal fence posts and strung wire up around the car, preventing anyone from using it.
“I had to go to bed and couldn’t keep eye on it and I didn’t want a drunk driver coming to use it and crashing into cars and things. That’s why I put the fence up.”
In a statement issued Friday, Share Now said, “Over the past several days, SHARE NOW has worked in good faith with Mr. Smith to release our vehicle and we are pleased to report that we have accomplished that task together.
“SHARE NOW would like to remind our members that we have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to the unauthorized parking of our vehicles, and we will continue to hold members who are found doing so accountable. Further, if anyone finds a SHARE NOW vehicle in an unauthorized parking spot, such as your private residential driveway, we encourage you to contact us immediately to ensure a quick resolution.”
Smith would not disclose the financial redress he will get from the company but said it covers his out-of-pocket expenses and not much more. He had asked Share Now for $300 for fence supplies, $65 a day in impound fees and $30 every 15 days for late fees. He had also sought a “$500 renter harassment fee,” he said.
After learning that the member who parked improperly on the property is responsible for all the costs incurred, he agreed to waive the $65-a-day impound fee, he said.
He was also told the company is most likely working with the member because of the unusual circumstances.
Share Now operates more than 20,000 cars worldwide in 30 cities and 13 countries, according to the company’s website, and car users are given clear warning about parking on private property.
Guidelines of “where to park” and “how to park” can be found here: https://www.car2go.com/US/en/seattle/where/
City of Seattle regulations state that free-floating car-sharing vehicles may park in most places on city streets; they make no mention of private property.
Smith said that despite his initial frustration, the experience ended up being positive. Though he got some negative reactions from a few people who told him something along the lines of, “Get a life,” most people have been supportive.
One person from Cambridge, Mass., told Smith he was their hero, others said they were glad he’d stood up to a company, and a few people even sent their pictures.
He’s planning to put up some “private property” signs and signs warning that parking violators will be towed —to help prevent a next time.
“It’s a timely lesson,” he said. “Part of this is just another boundary dispute in a world of people trying to work together.”
Reporter Ryan Blethen and news producer Jeff Albertson contributed to this report.