My wife and I and our 6-month-old baby were recent visitors to your fair city, to see my wife’s parents. We have been to Asheville before and know parking during daylight hours can be difficult, at best.
On a Friday evening, I parked my car next to Zambra’s restaurant to go in and pick up my in-laws after dinner, and ended up having coffee with them while they finished their dessert. I wasn’t [gone] more than 15 minutes, and when we went to leave, I couldn’t find my car. It had been towed. … At first, I panicked, as I didn’t see any signs until I looked up at the wall. I had not spotted the No Parking sign, nor was there any warning on my way out of the parking lot.
I called the number etched in small letters and was told my car was available for pick up for $150 cash, even though the fee was $125 for towing and $25 a “day.” They’d had my car less than an hour. I called my wife to tell her what had happened, and put her parents in a cab to go home to North Asheville while I called another cab and went to retrieve my car—which was in a deserted … part of town. … I saw [three] other car owners paying $150 in cash while I waited. [The attendent] pulled in $450 cash in less than half an hour. I imagine his take for the night is tax-free thousands of dollars. [This] speaks poorly of your city and the people who run it or allow [such companies] to operate with impunity.
I offered a credit card or check, and was told they took neither. All reputable businesses take these, and I felt my car was being held ransom for cash, like I was in a foreign country. I had borrowed some cash from my father-in-law, and with my taxi fare, that cup of coffee in your fair city cost me over $160. [This] ruins the friendly welcome your city portrays so well. Something should be done about it.
— Robert Mesner