While some vehicle-sharing programs pose substantial benefits like cutting down on traffic in congested areas and reducing the public's dependence on car ownership, they also have their (admittedly well-documented) downsides. As an example, a Seattle man recently gained national attention after a mysterious Mercedes-Benz CLA belonging to the car-sharing program Car2go ended up parked illegally outside a duplex he manages on May 17.
The user who last drove the car supposedly parked it in a spot designated for property owned by local man Dan Smith who, frustrated by the random CLA, built a makeshift barricade around it to prevent other Car2go customers from using it. The car has remained blocked in since then.
But more so, Smith also demanded that Car2go pay a storage fee of $65 per day, $300 to reimburse what it cost him to build the fence, and $500 for “harassment fees,” all for the inconvenience and legal issues imposed on him and his tenants.
The purpose of the whole scene, according to Smith, is to make a point about respecting private property and to change the system to prevent this ordeal from happening to someone else. Smith also believes that it’s a major liability issue, particularly if a Car2go customer arrived to use the car and somehow got injured while on his property.
Smith explained to news outlets that he tried to have the car towed, but three different companies denied his request. One supposedly said that it couldn’t comply because Smith didn’t have any signs posted that indicated his parking spots were private and any illegal users could have their vehicles towed.
Car2go’s parent company, Share Now, accused Smith of extortion when a spokesperson gave the following statement to the Associated Press.
“We will not allow anyone acting with ulterior motives, including anyone attempting to extort our business by holding our property illegally, to prevent us from providing transportation to the citizens of Seattle. We would like to avoid taking legal action and hope for a quick resolution.”
But apparently, Smith still wasn’t having it as he believes that the company failed to propose an agreeable term to remove the car from his property in a timely manner and without compensation.
Share Now’s Communications Manager Tim Krebs then issued a second statement to local Washington news affiliate, WIBW:
“We have made multiple attempts to retrieve our vehicle from this location. Despite professing his wish to have the vehicle removed, a person claiming to be the property owner is obstructing its removal and demanding payment. We do not tolerate our vehicles being held ransom. This is now a legal matter.”
Smith also said that he’ll allow Share Now to remove the vehicle if police approach him to say that he’s done something illegal. Until then, he maintains that he reserves the right to protect his private property. Share Now still has yet to make any final arrangements to remove the Mercedes-Benz CLA.