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At One Chicago Strip Mall, Parking Lot Operators Give Motorists The Lightning-Quick Boot

(CBS) -- A warning for parkers at a local strip mall: You could get the boot and be forced to pay big on the spot.

CBS 2's Mike Parker reports it's happening in the Garfield Ridge neighborhood at Archer and Central avenues. Some customers claim it's excessive, that they're getting booted seconds after getting out of their cars.

You thought only the city can boot your car? Think again.

"I was only gone for 10, 15 seconds, not even that," Vladimir Soveshkevych says. "I'm really angry right now, really angry -- $140 to get the boot off."

CBS 2 observed five vehicles booted by a private firm Thursday night in the strip mall parking lot -- despite half a dozen signs posted on the property warning drivers they will be booted if they leave their cars to patronize businesses not in the mall.

A tobacco shop next door draws a lot of business, and many customers of the shop get booted.

Alexis Vasquez had her car booted and says the attendant who did it was overeager. She says she pulled into the lot and had taken just a few steps from her car.

"By the time I turned around my car was already booted," Vasquez says. "I never set foot on the sidewalk or anything."

Her father, Roberto Vasquez, says: "They said point-blank, 'We knew where she was going. She was going to leave the premises, anyway, so we booted her.'"

Chicago's Better Business Bureau has given an "F" rating to Global Parking Management, the lot operators, because of what the bureau calls unanswered consumer complaints.

"A lot of the complaints are that they were immediately booted within 30 seconds to minutes before they even got off the property," says Steve Bernas of the BBB.

The owner of the management company, Joe Grillo, says the F rating is a mistake.

"We have never not responded to a complaint," he says.

Grillo says he runs his company by the book, in line with city ordinances. As for his alleged overeager employees, he says he personally sees to it that they are doing what they're supposed to.

The owner of Global Parking Management conceded that Alexis' Vasquez car was in fact booted, but pointed out that it was removed after she and her father protested. Vasquez was not fined.

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