I ran into a weird situation a few days ago. I parked in a parking garage and when I later went to leave the pay machines were marked "cash only" because their credit card processing system was broken. It turned out to be moot because the clerk at the desk agreed to process my card, but the clerk was threatening to not process any more cards and there was a long line behind me.

When I went out of the garage there was a sign right at the entrance saying that they accept credit cards complete with credit card logos. There was no "cash only" sign at the driveway entrance at all.

So, if the staff refuses to accept credit cards and somebody has no cash, and they kidnap the person's car what is the legal remedy? Is that criminal conversion? Can you sue them? If so, who do you sue, the clerk, or the owner of the garage, or both?

  • 2
    You can't kidnap property.
    – user4657
    May 23, 2018 at 3:47
  • 4
    In this situation, when an advertised automatic payment system breaks down and the backup system (the clerk processing the cards) also breaks down, the sensible thing to do is to provide the service for free until the system at their end is working again. I understand that for some reason, this option was not chosen in this case (so this is a comment, not an answer). May 23, 2018 at 9:02

1 Answer 1


You can't kidnap property and the person was not detained, only the property. This is a case where property was detained contrary to the agreement of the parties, which is actionable, but is not kidnapping.

It is probably not a crime, as there was not an intent to deprive and detain people's property and the "system" was screwed up by a third party.

It is probably a trespass to chattel or a breach of a bailment contract or license agreement with the parking lot owner. Potential defendants would be the counter-party to the bailment contract or license agreement (possibly the owner, possibly the company acting as operator), and possibly anyone whose personally negligent conduct detained your car.

Indeed, it wouldn't be unusual to have a contractual term expressly relieving the parking lot owner and people affiliated with the owner from liability in that situation.

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