Am I just stupid, or are the Interstate Parking Lot Automatic Systems difficult?

I used an Interstate lot in downtown Duluth today thinking it would be a nice solution to not having quarters or cash and also not knowing how long my meeting was going to run. As is often the case in Duluth, I was unable to read my spot number and was also unable to read the spot number for the neighboring spot due to snow and ice. So I paid for 2 hours of parking using my license plate number. About five minutes before my two hours was up I called the 866 number listed on the receipt to extend time.

Problem number one encountered is that the receipt listed two lot numbers. On the top portion of the ticket, it says Lot 2561. On the very bottom of the ticket it says “to extend time at location 3110.” When I called the 866 number I was unsure which number was supposed to be entered.

Problem number two is that when I went to add time to my car, the phone system asked for a parking spot number. I was unable to enter a spot number, so I attempted to enter my license plate number, which the phone system allowed. That process was very difficult when I tried on the phone and also I believe I had entered 2561 since my receipt said I was parked in Lot 2561. At one point I was given the option to talk to an operator if I was having problems. My call rang through and was answered by someone poor guy who appeared to be on a cell phone. I started to say I was calling about parking, and he abruptly said I had the wrong number and hung up.

I then logged into the paybyphone android app to try to increase the time on my spot. I was unable to add time to my car using the phone app because the app only allows for entering a space number, not by license plate number. I ended up just entering a spot number knowing it was wrong in the hopes the attendant (or Duluth parking person??) would figure out what was going on. I returned to my spot before my time expired and my car was there and had not been ticketed.

I tried to call their 1-800 number for feedback and could not explain what admittedly is a confusing story to the customer service rep. He just kept saying “But it says here you parked in spot 21.” I sent an email to customer support. We’ll see if I hear back.

I think the bigger issue (other than me being old and crabby) is that the City of Duluth awarded the parking concession for many, many city lots to Interstate. I like the idea of the pay kiosks, paying by credit/debit card and being able to add time using my cell phone. But there appear to be some issues. Can I forward this information and any response or lack of response I get from Interstate to anyone at the City? Who would that be?



about 9 years ago

You're not stupid. And not because I know you IRL. The system is horrible to use.

We parked at one (depot?) I forget where. Last fall, clear fall day. There was a lady about 70 years old who was almost in tears because she couldn't figure it out.


about 9 years ago

So, just how many different parking schemes are there in Duluth at least nominally run/overseen by the city?

Matthew Kennedy

about 9 years ago

krlars2, thank you for the valuable comments.  I am the City of Duluth parking manager and am very sorry for the inconvenience that you have experienced today.  It appears that your phone and e-mail inquiries went to PayByPhone.  Both Interstate Parking and I want to make right your service experience.  You may feel free to send your preferred contact information to me at mkennedy (at) so that we may contact you to assist.  If you prefer to reach out to Interstate Parking, its local e-mail address is  duluth (at) and its 24/7 local parking line is 218-727-PARK.


about 9 years ago

Thanks Matthew, I sent you an email.

super eyore

about 9 years ago

I had a different problem with one of those machines but the Interstate guy took care of it. The machines suck but the people are cool,

[email protected]

about 9 years ago

I believe everything you say...

but I park in these lots/structures at least once a week, and I have never had any trouble.

Doesn't make your perspective wrong, just part of a range.


about 9 years ago

A bit of follow up.  I talked with Matthew Kennedy at the City who determined the lot was a privately owned lot managed by Interstate.  But he wanted to make sure any issues were taken care of that might effect city lots.  So he referred me to the local Interstate manager- Jeff Aanenson.  Jeff confirmed there is a glitch with the pay by phone system- the system only allows remote recharge of time by one method- stall number or license plate number.  But the kiosk in the lot allows both.  I entered my license plate number when I did the original time using the license plate number. The system is setup to recharge time by stall number.  They are working on a fix.  He also said that the 866 number was a national number.  I would have gotten much better service by calling the local number- 727-PARK.  They are also working to fix the 866 number routing calls to the wrong number.  Everyone local was most helpful.  I would not hesitate to use an Interstate lot again.

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