By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
“Baby, you can drive my car,” the old Beatles song goes. You just can’t park it in my garage! That’s what the owner of Brooklyn-based car sharing company said he was told by a garage owner in Downtown Brooklyn.
Gil Cygler, founder of Carpingo, a car sharing company, said that his firm had entered into a month-to-month lease agreement with the owner of a parking garage at 215 Jay St. in September to park a couple of his company’s cars at that location. But in mid-December, the garage owner suddenly informed Carpingo that the agreement was not being renewed. Only a vague explanation was given, Cygler said. “We were told that we didn’t fit into their business model, whatever that means,” Cygler told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
The garage is owned by Car Park Systems of New York, a Manhattan-based company that operates parking garages all over the city.
Cygler said that up to that point, there hadn’t been any sign of trouble and that Carpingo was happy with the service it received from the garage. “Even as far as they were concerned, nothing was wrong. We paid on time. We paid at the beginning of the month,” he said.
The Greenpoint Gazatte reported that Carpingo paid $250 a month to rent space at 215 Jay St.
Adding insult to injury, Cygler said, the garage owners apparently wanted Carpingo out in a hurry. “They told us that if we were willing to leave early, they would give us a refund. It’s obvious they wanted us out of there,” he said.
Gladstone McFarlane, business development manager for Carpingo, said the boot from the garage came as a shock to the company and its customers. “It was a real disruption of our business. We had contracted with customers who signed up with us because we had cars parked in that garage,” he said.
Carpingo has a fleet of 50 cars, only three of which were parked at 215 Jay St. The company rents space in other garages in downtown Brooklyn for its other vehicles. “We like to park in places that are convenient to our members,” Cygler said.
Carpingo works on a membership basis. Customers become members and are able to use the company’s cars by paying a membership fee. Rather than require members to go to one central location to pick up a car, Carpingo parks vehicles in several different locations so that members can find an auto at a place that’s convenient to them, Cygler said. A membership card is used as the key to start the car’s ignition. The costs of gasoline, insurance, and parking are included in the membership fee. Carpingo began operating in August of 2012.
Cygler said he can’t think of why the garage owner at 215 Jay St. would not want his business, especially since the garages accommodates other car rental companies. “They currently deal with Zipcar,” he said, referring to the larger, better know car share company. “Zipcar rents 100 spots there. We had three cars. I don’t understand why we were asked to leave. I think there’s room at the table for everyone,” he said.
Being unceremoniously asked to leave the garage has hurt Carpino’s business, according to Cygler. “It is not only affecting our business, it is affecting the consumer. The consumer has less of a choice when a company isn’t welcome in certain places,” he said.
“Sadly, this isn’t an isolated incident,” McFarlane said. “We approached other garages and were told that they were not interested in our business,” he said, adding that many of these same garages were already doing business with large car-rental chains.
“It hurts because we’re a Brooklyn company. This is our borough. We’re not coming here from elsewhere like a national chain,” McFarlane said.
Carpingo’s plight has come to the attention of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce of which the company is a member. Chamber President Carlo Scissura sent members a memo about the situation.
There is something of a happy ending to this story. McFarlane said Carpingo didn’t take the situation lying down. “Like David fighting Goliath, we didn’t give up. We called other garages. We kept knocking on doors and we found that we were welcomed,” he said.
There has been no problem in the garages that Caringo currently deals with, McFarlane said.
Car Park Systems of New York did not return phone calls.