Impacts of airport satellite lot closure felt by employees, travelers

While the website boasts of a parking facility that is "gated, secure and close to the port," customers of Premier Parking are finding gravel lots that are open and left abandoned.

In the past week, customers of two Premier Parking lots have come back from their vacations to find that no one was working at the lots where their cars were being stored.

"You expect a certain service, you pay for a service, and they're not providing it for you," said Cathy Beaumont, one of several customers who waited hours for a shuttle to pick them up from the port after returning from a Norwegian Star cruise.

"We had to wait, seeing all the shuttles coming in picking other people up, and then our shuttle not picking us up and waiting over an hour. It's ridiculous," said Beaumont.

Only one shuttle driver was working on Sunday at the company's Port of Tampa parking lot, 491 North Brush Street. Customers could not get ahold of anyone on the company's service line. Several other employees were at the parking lot picketing the company as customers arrived.

They claim they have not been paid for their work since December 25, and they received a text message on January 6, informing them the company is closing.

"It's pretty crazy, because one day you're at work, and the next day you show up, and there's no check, nothing is going on," said James Martin, a former valet driver at the Premier Parking Tampa Airport Lot, 610 West Chelsea Street.

"I was the last person to work there. [Customer's] keys would just be sitting in there, no one is watching the cars, they can be vandalized at any time," said Martin.

Last week, several customers complained of having to catch a taxi to get back to the 24-hour business that was closed. When they arrived, the office was locked and there was no way for them to retrieve their keys. One person broke a window to the office to go inside and get his keys.

"They've got a great website, but they don't provide very good service here," said Don Goulding, a frustrated customer.

On PremeirParkingUSA.com, the company has 25 parking locations listed at airports and cruise terminals across the country, including Tampa, Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale and Miami.

Records show the owners of the business listed as Tejas Patel and William "Billy" Williams III.

The corporate headquarters is listed as 602 Channelside Drive, the same location as the "Williams & Trayner Attorneys" office.

A secretary for Attorney William Williams Jr. said Billy Williams is the attorney's son, however, the law office has no affiliation with Premier Parking.

No one from the company responded to calls for comment.

According to employees protesting on Sunday, about 30 employees have banned together to file a lawsuit in small claims court to retrieve back wages. They said they have hired Attorney Brandon Hill with Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A. in Tampa.

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