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Parking validation is a co-operative effort between businesses and local parking laws that gives customers the ability to waive parking fees. Garages and parking lots will often offer validation to customers of nearby shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues. The goal of this system is to promote business by offering free parking, while the businesses return the favor by paying the city a small premium.
Validation is usually offered at city-owned or operated lots. The organization in charge of managing the lots will set prices for available parking and give local merchants the chance to offer their customers free parking as a reward for shopping with them. Some cities or towns charge merchants by the number of times the validation is used, while others impose a monthly fee for the service. Ideally, the merchant will see increased business for a nominal fee, and the city will still be getting paid for the use of its parking facilities.
In many garages and lots, signs are posted stating that participating merchants should be visited for parking validation. Most garages offer a limited amount of free parking with validation, usually between one and four hours. Not all merchants offer it or advertise that they will validate, so customers should be sure to check with the business they are visiting before leaving.
Some merchants require the purchase of goods or services before agreeing to validate a parking ticket. In movie theaters and other entertainment businesses like arcades or skating rinks, typically the price of admission will serve as expense enough for this benefit. At restaurants, it is usually available after finishing a meal.
In some larger malls or shopping centers, self-validation machines are also available. These machines will be in various locations throughout the mall, and often do not require purchase to be used. Since a shopper must be in the mall to be using the machine, he or she is most likely a customer and therefore receives the benefit of free parking in the shopping center’s lots. Systems like this encourage visitor loyalty, as customers may feel relieved or grateful that they don’t have to pay for parking simply because they couldn’t find anything to purchase.
Drivers should be sure to bring their parking tickets with them to receive parking validation. Most businesses use either an automated machine to give free parking or will stamp the parking ticket as proof. If the local businesses use automated systems, customers can often just insert the ticket into the machine in the garage or lot, and the validation will be verified. Stamped or signed tickets will usually need to be checked by a parking attendant at the exit.