Photo/IllutrationA signboard at a coin-operated parking lot in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward. It says “Maximum daily rate of 1,500 yen (24-hour period)” with in much smaller print “one-time use only.” (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

  • Photo/Illustraion

A man in his 30s got the shock of his life when he got a surprise bill of 150,000 yen ($1,320) for parking his car in a south Kanto region lot for about a week.

He expected to pay the regular 800-yen daily rate but instead was charged at a special rate of 500 yen for every half an hour.

In Japan, motorists during the year-end and New Year holidays are being advised to read the signs carefully before they park at coin-operated parking lots to avoid hefty fees, as some facilities charge a premium during the holidays.

In Kyoto, a woman in her 40s who parked at a coin-operated parking lot on New Year’s Eve last year was surprised to see the overnight parking cost her about 10,000 yen when she returned to the lot at night on New Year’s Day. The lot normally charges about 1,000 yen for 24 hours.

She didn’t see the special holiday rate signage posted under the payment kiosk because it was behind a banner flag.

The National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan (NCAC) is calling attention to consumer troubles related to the pricing system at coin-operated parking lots. The NCAC received 363 complaints in fiscal 2017 over signs indicating fees at coin-operated parking spaces, a jump from fiscal 2013-2016 when the center dealt with 300 claims or so per year.

“More people drive during the year-end and New Year holidays as many go to shrines and temples to make wishes and some parking facilities set up special rates. Make sure not only to read the rates written on signage at the lot carefully but also do some research on various conditions beforehand,” an official at the center warned.