Read description before using an hourly parking lot. If you use without reading it, you may be charged an unexpected hefty fee.
Local consumer affairs centers across Japan and the Consumer Trouble Mailbox on NCAC's website received an increasing number of inquiries and complaints about hourly parking lots (e.g. "According to the advertisement, the maximum price per day should be XX yen, but I was charged far more than expected.", "The difference between a weekday fee and a holiday fee is confusing."). In October 2013, NCAC put out a press release on this issue.
After the press release, the annual number of inquiries stayed about the same around 300 for a few years, but increased in FY2017 (See Diagram). Still there have been many complaints that the price charged was far more expensive than the price advertised. More recently, there have been some complaints that the price charged was different from the price shown on a smartphone app.
Therefore, NCAC decided to sort out the problems again and provide updated information to help prevent the occurrence and spread of similar troubles.
Diagram: Number of inquiries per year received through PIO-NET1
(data received through October 31, 2018)
Note: *1 The pink area of the bar shows 187 inquiries received from April 1, 2017 through October 31, 2017, for comparison with the same period in FY2018.
Note: *2 The data in FY2018 shows inquiries from April 1, 2018 through October 31, 2018.
The number of inquiries was 305 in FY2013, 294 in FY2014, 296 in FY2015, 299 in FY2016, 363 in FY2017, 174 in FY2018 through October 31, 2018 (The number in the same period in FY2017 was 187).
- 1PIO-NET is a database that collects information on inquiries concerning consumer affairs by linking NCAC with local consumer affairs centers and similar organizations across Japan via an online network.
Sampling of inquiries and complaints
- It was not easy to understand that the cap price per day was applied only within the first 24 hours.
- I didn't notice when entering the parking lot that I had to pay a premium price for year-end and New Year holidays.
- I didn't know that the cap price was applied only for certain spaces.
- I didn't know that the cap price was applied only when entering within certain hours.
- The price charged was different from the price shown on a smartphone app.
- I was charged an expensive fee for loss of a parking ticket.
- I put money in a payment machine, but no change was given.
Problems highlighted from sampling of inquiries and complaints - not easy to understand or see description
1. Description about parking rates
- It's not easy to understand terms and conditions shown on the signboard.
- It's not easy to understand description about a premium price for holidays.
- It's not easy to see terms and conditions including price.
- The fee structure is too complicated.
2. Online description about parking rates (website or smartphone app)
There have been some complaints that the price charged was different from the price shown on a website or smartphone app. This type of complaints had not been received when the prior press release was announced in FY2013.
3. Description related to loss of a parking ticket
Still it has been reported that some consumers were charged an expensive fee for loss of a parking ticket.
4. Description about payment
Still it has been reported that some consumers noticed after payment that no change would be given, although the number of the inquiries are on the decrease.
Advice for consumers
- Before using an hourly parking lot, read terms and conditions in small letters in addition to advertisement like "within XX yen for one day" in big letters.
- Be careful not to lose a parking ticket.
- When you get in trouble, consult your local consumer affairs center.
- When you think that description is problematic, report the issue to your local consumer affairs center.
Request to business association
- Further ensure that your member companies know and follow the guidelines for description and operation of hourly parking lots.
- Reduce complexity as much as possible. Make the fee structure simpler so that users can easily understand it.