Etiquette at Private Charging Sites

Etiquette at Private Charging Sites

If there is a sign at a charging location that says not for public use, please don’t use.

Longer Version:
My company has two chargers installed at my office. They’ve been kind to do this and allow me to charge my car there. This is on private property with signs clearly indicating that the chargers are for company use only.

This morning, I find a brand new P85 in one of the spots. No problem, maybe an emergency charge was needed, maybe they didn’t see the signs, maybe… I leave a nice note on the windshield letting them know this site is only for company use; contact me if you have any questions. The reply I get back about floors me…

“I am entitled to charge here!” is the summary.
“I have been charging here overnight and plan to continue to do so”.
“My car is done charging by 4am so it doesn’t affect the charging of your car”.
“Your site is listed on the web so I can use”. (The site is listed on “recargo” and “plugshare”; some well intended folks noted the location and I clearly updated the description with notes indicating is it NOT for public use).

After another few email exchanges, this person flat tells me “I am going to continue to charge here every night and you can’t stop me”. I leave this conversation to be continued by our building security folks now. Understand that this is private property, we have posted that trespassing is forbidden, cars can be towed, etc. This is getting ugly.

Now, our company president is involved and thinks we shouldn’t install chargers for our company employees.

I am appalled that one of our group has taken this attitude; this makes EV drivers look ridiculous.

PLEASE, respect signage. Do NOT use chargers on private property unless allowed. Please be courteous.

jgraessley | 26/03/2013

For what it's worth, at Apple we have Chargepoint charges. Chargepoint has a system set up where an account can be "connected" to an organization in such a way that only those "connected" to the organization can use their chargers. The charging is free for employees and no one outside of the company can use them.

The other common (cheaper?) solution is a circuit breaker switch that's only accessible behind locked doors. Leave the circuit off when not in use. When an employee wants to use the charger, flip the circuit on.

frmercado | 26/03/2013

That is indeed ridiculous. I can't believe a Tesla owner would behave like that. He clearly has no education. Call him out personally, here and at TMC!! And if he still insists that it is "his right" to charge at your company's station, call the COPS and slap a restraining order on this guy. He might even be commiting a felony, he is definitely commiting a misdemeanor. He is clearly nuts and, like you said, giving EV drivers a bad reputation.

olanmills | 26/03/2013

I think you should hire a tow company to put a boot on that guy's car. Or simply call the police. It's trespassing. Of course, the problem with either course of action is you'll have to stay up one night and catch him.

Grinner | 26/03/2013

You are a saint.
There giving the benefit of the doubt and there is bending over. This guy is so out of line.
Do not hesitate to tow him.

Captain_Zap | 26/03/2013

Sounds like theft. How is it different from siphoning gas from someone else's gas tank overnight?

cmlaff | 26/03/2013

Are you sure this isn't Elon calling out George B. charging at Space X?

Darmok | 26/03/2013

So if I put my home charging station on Recargo and Plug Share, which I have done, this guy can come to the house, get into my garage and plug in every night without my permission? What a tool.

info | 26/03/2013

I hate to encourage childish behavior, but I'm pretty good at it. As I've grown older I have fought all efforts to make me a mature man. I'm told I'm winning the fight. Obviously, this is not always good, but here's what I do in a similar situation.

At my office I have three parking spaces for my employees and me. Sometimes, in spite of a sign in front of the parking spot and two security gates, someone gets in and parks in my spot. I get the two people on either side of the car to either back in or head in depending upon side and then park them 2 inches from the offender's door. There is no way for him to get in. I then put a note on his windshield asking him to come to my office.

When he gets there, depending upon his contrition, I either move one of the cars, or tell him that the person who parked there isn't here right now and if he gives me his cellphone number, I'll call him when the person returns.

Now, this might not work on a Model S because he might be able to get in through the hatch, but parking a car right behind him might do the same thing.

If you decide to do this, please take a video to post on YouTube. It would be great to see two older guys get into it. It would renew my faith in human nature. Unfortunately sometimes a jerk responds to nothing but return jerkism.

rmbod | 26/03/2013


Just out of curiosity...what city are you in?

noel.smyth | 26/03/2013

its stealing, Would put up an enforceable sign and tow the car next time. its a shame that folks dont respect others property.
Maybe you can put a lockbox on the outlet with a combination that only the employees have... the chargepoint solution above is slick though.
I hope your ower does not punish all by removing the outlet due to this thief.
good luck and would like to hear how this plays out.

homebreww | 26/03/2013

Enforceable sign exists upon entry to the parking lot. Our security guys tell me we can in fact have him towed.

@info , @cmlaugh

Short term solution to the problem is to turn off the breaker every evening. This means when I get to work, I need to go inside and turn on the breakers; pain in the a$$, but can't complain too much for juice at work.

Longer term solution is to install key enabled chargers; the cost for that will come out of the budget for additional chargers. I would have preferred to keep the chargers "open" and even had preliminary buy-in from management for others to use for an emergency charge; that option is now off the table.

Our building has security cameras so we can monitor situation. I understand we already have video of the driver parking there previous evenings.

Lots of legal things can be done and it is fun to imagine doing them, but I'm just hoping things cool off.

Thanks for allowing me to vent!

cschock | 26/03/2013

Props to you @Homebreww for being as patient as you have been. Stay cool and if the loser won't back off, know that you are in the right to smack his @ss into next week legally and morally. Heck, I would have towed his car the first day so you are already way more tolerant than I am :)

olanmills | 26/03/2013

You should have to pay to "fix" something because of this jerk. I wanna see him get towed!

jat | 26/03/2013

Just wire it up so it delivers 480V instead :)

mwojcie | 26/03/2013

Just amazing - can't believe this guy. Four flat tires would suck in the morning when he is late for work!!

Brian H | 26/03/2013

Well, proof positive that some jerks can afford the MS! Sad but true.

negarholger | 26/03/2013

Brian - parents paid for it. That is the only explanation.

Homebreww - I admire your patience.

torst1 | 27/03/2013

@Brian H
Your logic dictate that most jerks are poor - what a stupid thing to say.

Brian H | 27/03/2013

More the reverse, that buying an MS does not prove you are not a jerk.

RNB | 27/03/2013

So this car was in one of two spots?
You are an employee, not an owner?
You could still charge your car?
You complained and now they might get rid of the chargers?

Nobody is entitled to free electric, work or not.
It should be metered, controlled access, payed access.
Your company was shortsighted.

And as to the signage being obeyed, do you drive the speed limit?

petero | 27/03/2013

Homebreww. Another possible solution, request your boss consider having the charging stations but on a timer and not being able to charge overnight- only during working hours.

In my youth, when faced with an inconsiderate parker, I would let the air out of a tire or four. Eventually, they get the message.

David M. | 27/03/2013

Assuming you have the proper signage "Private Parking, Employees Only - Towing Enforced, etc." Then go ahead and tow.

Unfortunately, not all Model S owners are law abiding (apparently). In my experience, there are far more owners of gas powered cars who break the law by parking in spaces designated "EV Charging only". Maybe they don't think it's a law (like handicapped parking).

I'm not sure that gas powered car owners would like it very much if a caravan of EV drivers arrived at a 7-Eleven gas station and parked next to all of the pumps (blocking their use), while the drivers go inside to purchase Slurpees and lottery tickets.

gasnomo | 27/03/2013

I'm confused. These charging sites are in a company parking lot, on corporate property? So the owner of the offending MS drives his car, presumably some distance from his home, parks it at night in the spot, walks home, then comes back the next morning, either by foot or by carpool, to pick the car back up?

LMB | 27/03/2013

@RNB You might be going a bit far. If homeb.'s company chooses to provide free charging as a perk for employees, of course he/she is entitled to use it.

And far from being shortsighted, a company which provides that perk creates some powerful employee loyalty.

Sudre_ | 27/03/2013

Before my Model S arrived I reviewed all the chargers in St. Louis and posted updates on Recargo's app. There are several chargers at Ameren's downtown office that are never used. The APP said they were public and they were in the visitors parking. While I was there looking at the chargers to figure out the amperage 3 security vehicles pulled up and threaten to arrest me for being on private property. They made it very clear the chargers were private. I left a note on the Recargo APP and they changed the listing for the chargers to private.

While this guy sounds like a complete A-hole, I can understand his confusion if the locations were originally listed as public however his responses to you are completely off the wall.

akikiki | 27/03/2013

@Homebreww, once upon a time, you could scare the bajivies outa someone by telling them, 60 Minutes' Mike Wallace is out front and wants to talk to you. RIP - Mike

Instead these days, call a local TV station and tell them you have an interesting story for them. Give them footage from your security cam.

This is really interesting, please keep us informed.

Ohms.Law | 27/03/2013

@Sudre: I thought I was being somewhat obsessive by my preparations before the red ride arrives, but, your pre-delivery efforts make me sound like a couch potato.

prash.saka | 27/03/2013

@homebreww, this is completely wrong. That guy has no whatsoever right to park, let alone charge, in this parking spot. As others have mentioned, you have every right to tow the car.

By the way, do the cars that are parked in the area have a parking sticker indicating that they are allowed to park here? If so, then it is easy for the towing company to tow it. Else, it might be difficult. Are you sure this guy is not entitled to park and charge there?

The other option is to call Chargepoint and tell them that is a private and NOT a public charger.

Finally, you should out this guy.

Keep us updated.

~ Prash.

olanmills | 27/03/2013

lol yeah, what's his VIN?

Sudre_ | 27/03/2013

OH! MY! yes. post the VIN!

@Ohms.Law - I was going nuts. I even drove to Chicago and stopped by all the chargers on the way their too!

portia | 27/03/2013

@homebreww, you are too nice. It will be a shame if your company takes away the chargers. Keep us posted of future development.
Jerks comes in all colors and stripes, nothing says you are disqualified to buy a Tesla, sad.

bsimoes | 27/03/2013

I think the posts that suggest damage to the car are not helpful. Don't stoop. I do think that you have more than enough evidence to take him to small claims court to pay for the electricity used. This could go toward making the electricity metered in the future. He may even want to work out a deal that he pays a monthly fee to park there...I'm assuming he may rent in the area and can't get electricity to his home. I don't know if that would work for your employers, but I'm just trying to imagine the scenario that would cause someone to have to have such an inconvenient solution to charging.

olanmills | 27/03/2013

Seriously homebreww, post his VIN and the email thread. We can shame him/her! That is a bit vindictive though. At least get the car towed.

@bsimoes, the problem is that, assuming that homebreww has not embellished the story, this mystery Model S owner's behavior is disgusting. Supposing it was me that did this, and then I received the note from homebreww. I would either apologize, and not park there again, or else I would apologize and ask if it's possible to work out something as you suggest, like a rental fee, or even just ask nicely like, "Hey, I'm really in a bind. There's no electrician available to install a charger at home for two months, and I basically can't drive anywhere for two months unless I could use your charger, which is the only one around within walking distance. Would it be okay if I just used it for the next two months? I would really appreciate your permission to use it. I'll have donust delivered to your office every Wednesday!"

What I wouldn't do is act like I own the world.

Please tow this guy's car AND complain to the police. You've already done your due dilligence by attempting to contact the person and handle it on your own. The person responded by being an unreasonable %$#*!$$.

jbunn | 27/03/2013

Tow. But my fantasy option would be to put a bycycle cable lock through one spoke on his rear driverside wheel with the cable going through the charge cord it so he sees it. And a note telling him how much you look forward to his appology.

Better to tow though...

turbofroggy | 27/03/2013

What type/brand of charging stations is this? If it a Chargepoint, it was mentioned earlier about restricting only to the organization, this will certainly work.
If it is a generic station like a Clipper Creek, Leviton etc, they should have a timer/demand provision inside the unit in the form of a connection inside the unit. How they normally work is that a time grounds that timer wire which inhibits charging, when it is open the unit works just like it normally should. A simple alarm style keyed switch could easily close that circuit. Just make copies of the key and give it to the people who should be using it as well as an extra one at the reception desk. Then you just put the key in, turn it to the open position, the EVSE goes to ready then you plug in. When your done, unplug, key in, off position, remove key and go. Problem solved all for about $10 in parts.

Brian H | 27/03/2013

what if they don't like donusts?

hsadler | 27/03/2013

Everybody likes donusts !!!!

Schlermie | 27/03/2013

Home Depot sells a few EV chargers that have RFID access. For a company, I think ChargePoint is the way to go though.

mikhaila | 27/03/2013

Well it's you company property - park car right in front of him not leaving any space and go on vacation. See what happens.

homebreww | 28/03/2013

I completely follow your "let's work something out" concept; that was the intent of my note and reply to his email. I'm confident that with some constructive discussion, we could have figured it out.

We now turn off the chargers at night so I don't expect a return. If he does return, he will not be greeted kindly.

New chargers are being ordered, with RFID.

I found out our company office manager called the trespasser and was rudely treated.

The emails I exchanged with the trespasser were sent from the his work address; the office manager followed up by contacting his company, asking why their representative was behaving this way. This was a foolish way to represent his company when you view the email thread between he and myself.

Vawlkus | 28/03/2013

Good to hear your office manager is informing that jerk's bosses about his asinine behavoir. It's also good to hear that your companies chargers aren't being yanked, just upgraded.

I would just like to say that you might want to drop a word of warning in your security guys ears; if that jerk feels aggrevied he might come back to cause some mischief. Wouldn't hurt for you and your security guys to be a little more vigalent for a month or so, just in case.

village33 | 29/03/2013

I guess I'm confused both here and from personal experience. Re: here, obviously the mystery charger has some issues, but why would anyone post a private charger on a public website (with or without comments) unless you are looking to deceive the public and cause harm? If you want your employees to know, send a memo. Re: my personal experience, I drove to Boston last month (320mi RT) on a well planned trip using Chargepoint app. When I got to the garage with two unused chargers (with no comments other than being available) I was told it was a private lot and I could not enter. I don't know if a vote is needed here and a call by every Model S owner to every charger website, but my vote is to never, ever post a charger on a publicly available website (with or without comments) if it is not a publicly available charger (or on a member website if not available to members), and if you do you are liable for any resulting damage to or towing for the EV you have invited and turned away.

Docrob | 29/03/2013

I think Homebreww was unambiguous in his comments, neither he nor his company listed their chargers on any website as public access. Some other helpful soul listed the charging site and Homebreww has made a note on the entry of their non public status as that is all he is able to do, although I'm sure he could email the sites moderator and request the station be delisted.

olanmills | 29/03/2013

@village33, anyone can add an entry to, and once a site has been added, I don't think it can be removed.

No one "invited" this person to park there.

It doesn't really matter what's on The point is someone is violating someone else's property. Some independent website doesn't give anyone the right to do that.

Captain_Zap | 29/03/2013

Recargo needs to fix that. Now pranksters can claim that there is a charger anywhere and send people on wild goose chases.

I think that EV's have arrived and it can't be treated like a small community/club anymore.

Dennis | 29/03/2013

specific to chargepoint chargers they are listed on their website regardless of availability. it's left up to the users to rate each charger. when i first got my car i drove around and checked out all the local chargepoint chargers and rated them. one of the chargers was in a locked and gated DOT parking lot, not available to the public.

village33 | 29/03/2013

@olanmills, I take your point that the post is ambiguous as to whether the well intentioned folks who posted the charger to the recargo site were employees or were not employees of the charger owner. Given my conversation with Chargepoint (which may be different than recargo), I assumed the former as Chargepoint claimed only the charger owner can post to the website and further, unbelievably, Chargepoint can see internally which chargers are private but that that note field is not available to users. I don't defend the mystery charger here. This is a bigger problem we all need to fix or understand if we're going to get locked out of seemingly public charging stations.

jat | 29/03/2013

@Captain_Zap - I don't know how you crowdsource reporting available chargers and verifying they are supposed to be public, other than crowdsourcing that verification as well -- which is what Plugshare does and I presume Recargo (I haven't used it other than initially, and deciding I liked Plugshare better).