BOSTON (CBS) — After a vacation to Orlando in the midst of Hurricane Matthew, the Kingston, Mass. family assumed the craziness was in the rear-view mirror when they landed at Logan Airport.
But then they tried to retrieve their vehicle from Thrifty’s airport parking facility along Route 1A.
Upon arrival, Corinne Lesieur-Garland learned there was a “problem with the wheels” of her brand-new Honda Accord. When she asked to see the car, employees informed her it was parked three miles away.
“What do you mean you moved my car?” Lesieur-Garland asked. “Nowhere does it say that you guys move my car. I parked the car here. Why is it not in this lot?!”
Lesieur-Garland was shocked when she saw where the car had actually been left during her family’s vacation: The abandoned Wonderland dog racing track in Revere.
That location is vastly different than Thrifty’s guarded, fenced and well-lit facility. There is little to stop someone from entering the Wonderland parking lot, a blighted space filled with potholes and standing water.
“I was absolutely furious,” Lesieur-Garland told the I-Team.
And adding to the fury, her new car was resting on cinder blocks. Thieves had stolen all four of the wheels. Nearby, two other vehicles also sat on cinder blocks with missing wheels.
The family said the experience was blatant false advertising, pointing to a promise of safety on the company’s web site.
“We guarantee your vehicle will be constantly monitored in our fenced, well-lit parking facility,” the site reads. “Know that when you park with Thrifty, you’re parking in a safe and secured area for your entire stay.”
For several days, the I-Team watched employees constantly shuffle cars in and out of the Wonderland parking lot. The vehicles had Thrifty parking tickets clearly visible on their dashboards.
With a birds-eye-view at a parking garage across the street, the I-Team saw cars lined up according to pick-up time, and then whisked back to the Thrifty location without customers ever knowing.
In a September 29 police report the I-Team obtained, a Revere police officer spoke with manager Ghaleb Rihani about three vandalized cars.
“Mr. Rihani stated that the parking lot lights had been out the past two nights, leaving the lot in complete darkness,” the report stated, adding that employees left the cars unattended for a 12-hour period overnight.
In the October 9 report involving the Garland’s vehicle, an officer wrote, “This is an ongoing problem at that location.”
The I-Team spoke with two different Thrifty customers who were unaware their vehicles’ tires had been stolen.
Jeff Jacocks also said he had no idea his new Hyundai Tucson might be moved from the Thrifty lot to the Wonderland lot three miles away.
“I drove by that on the way to dropping off my car and was glad my car would be parked somewhere else,” he told the I-Team.
When Jacocks picked up his car, it had all four wheels intact. Nobody mentioned the theft or the repair work. The I-Team showed him a photo of his car on cinder blocks.
“I feel like I was lied to,” he said. “It’s dishonest of them not to tell me that anything happened to my vehicle. It makes me wonder what else happened to it.”
Rihani did not respond to questions about why customers were not getting the full story. And when the I-Team paid him a visit at the business, the manager repeatedly referred inquiries to the corporate office.
Thrifty is already taking action. Company spokeswoman Lauren Luster told the I-Team 24-hour security is being added to the overflow lot as a result of the recent incidents of theft and vandalism.
Thrifty is also adding the following the following statement to its parking web sites: “Customer vehicles may be moved to an overflow lot that has 24-hour security.” Luster said signs will be placed at the Thrifty location and employees will also verbally notify customers.
Luster said Thrifty apologized to Jacocks about repairing his vehicle without his knowledge or permission. His parking charges were also refunded and the company offered to pay for a vehicle inspection at a dealership. The manager’s actions are “currently under review,” she added.
The Garland family received a rental car during repair work and did not have to pay the parking tab for their vacation, but Andrew Garland still shakes his head at the experience.
“If we had known our car had been parked there, we absolutely would’ve never gone there,” he said. “We wouldn’t park our old car there. We wouldn’t park there for free. I wouldn’t park my worst enemy’s car there.”