Wednesday, March 09, 2011

San Francisco Isn't Tourist Friendly

This is the most unbelievable story, but I played a small part in it, so I know it is true. I would like to write this in an editorial to a San Francisco newspaper! Or maybe even a television news station!

My sister in law came to San Francisco to get a same day passport. She made an appointment, and showed up a few minutes early. She parked in a gray curb area, and used her credit card to pay the money for the meter in front of her car. She got her passport application in, then came back out to her car, only to find it was gone! Some bystanders told her it had been towed for being incorrectly parked! She asked where to go to get it, and found it was far away at a parking garage.

She walked a long way, and kind of got lost in the process. She turned down one side street and a drunk man came forward and grabbed at her purse and kind of fell in to her. She screamed, grabbed her purse, and ran back the opposite direction. Finally she found her way to the tow garage, albeit a little shaken up.

The garage told her that she had been parked in a yellow commercial parking zone, and had fed the meter for that parking area. They told her the fine would be $485! She gave them her credit card to swipe, but her bank had locked it up. They have a fraud protection system that locks up the card if it is used in a neighboring state for a small purchase. Evidently, that is how thieves operate. They make a small purchase first, then if it works they try it on a bigger purchase. Now she had no money to pay for the towing. The rates would begin to rise in just a few hours.....

She asked them if she could get something out of her car, and they said yes. Her main concern was to charge her cell phone so that she could call her husband. She turned the power on, but didn't turn over the engine, then plugged in her car charger, and her cell phone. At this point, the attendant got very irate and yelled for her to get out of the car and give him the key! She said, "I need to charge my phone so that I can call my husband. It will just take a minute." He said, "Charge it in the office!" She said, "I can't because I only have my car charger." He was a black man. After she explained again that she was not moving until she charged her cell phone, he became agressive.she heard him talking to his supervisor over the phone.He grabbed at her arm, and she said, "You need to stop touching me. You are scaring me!" He threatened to call the police. She said, "Please do! I think I need a policeman about now!". So the man went aside and called his boss. She could hear him tell his boss that he didn't dare go near her because she might have him arrested. His boss agreed that he should call the police. Then she heard him say, "I think she is racist." After he got off the phone, she said, "It's not about the color of your skin, it's about your aggressive attitude!"

When the policeman came, and she explained her story, he quietly said to her, "I feel so bad. If it were me, I would never have done this to you." He would have seen the out of State plates and given her a break. He called her husband, and gave him the number of the garage so that her husband could pay the fine by phone. But when he called, he found out that if you pay by phone, there is an additional $145 fee!! In addition, when he called them, and they found out he was the husband of that crazy woman sitting in her car, they hung up on him!

My sister in law sat in her car on the phone with her bank, trying to get her credit card unlocked. She sat there for about 2 hours. She said that she felt safer there than walking out on the streets of San Francisco! But then two more policemen showed up and told her the tow people wanted to have her arrested for trespassing! She explained to them that she had almost been mugged, and that she felt safer sitting in her car until she could sort things out with the bank. She laughingly said, "At this point, jail doesn't sound so bad because at least I would be safe!" Luckily they laughed with her. lol

They then insisted that she come back in to the office with them, so she did. They tried again swiping her card, but it wouldn't work. They waited 5 more minutes and tried again, but to no avail. They waited 5 more minutes, and this time it worked! She asked where she could go to appeal the ticket, and they gave her an address. At this point she called me and asked me to google directions to the government building.

Once she got there, the woman hearing her case said, "I must first thank you for not swearing during this ordeal. I hate swearing, and I won't even listen to cases of people who curse at the police." One point awarded for virtue! She felt really bad about the situation, and told my sister in law she would do all she could for her, and that they would investigate, but unfortunately, in the city of San Francisco, they have very strict parking laws.

So I ask you all to be the judge. Do you think San Francisco is a city that encourages tourism?


Inklings said...

Your poor sister-in-law! That was a nightmare and San Francisco should be ashamed.

Amber said...

wow, if i was her, i'd really hesitate to go back ever again - what a horribly bad day i feel so bad for her!!

Looney said...

Amazing. Glad she made it through.

I have never had anything comparable happen, including my trips to deal with the passport issues. Still, it looks like things could get quite scary given the homeless and all else. But then again, I am always part of a group.

Ramana Rajgopaul said...

No. I can come up with other stories of similar nature in the Gulf where the Arabs officials treat all non
Arabs like criminals and inferior beings.

Nene said...

Incredible! Shame on San Francisco! Double shame on that parking garage that towed her car.