TBT Towing Informative - Patrol towing - outrageous fees

Review by KarinD on 2006-06-25
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON -- On Friday June 23rd myself, my boyfriend and two friends attended the Tiger Army show the Premier in Seattle. We parked in a lot near the venue which I believed was shared by Donna's restaurant and by a mini-mart. The mini-mart was closed and Donna's was near closing time, so we assumed that we would not be interfering with their business by parking there.
After midnight when the concert was over we returned to the lot and there was a man from TBT towing currently towing another person's car and our car was no longer there. We asked the man if he had already towed our black BMW and he said yes and that the TBT lot was about a mile from where we were. We proceeded to walk that distance and when we got there we were treated very rudely by the staff. The man in the office refused to speak to anyone but the registered owner of the car (my boyfriend) and would not let me pay the towing fees. When I tried to ask him why, he told me that he was not going to argue company policy and ordered me to get off the porch. The other man that was there just ignored any questions directed at him. My boyfriend just paid the $350.00 in fees because it was now almost 1 am and we needed to take our friends home and drive an hour back to our house.
After we got home I looked at the paperwork to try to find out why the fees were so since it was towed a mile and then was there for under an hour. The receipt that we received stated 250.00 for towing, 40.00 for after hours pick up and 40.00 for storage. I believe that these charges are quite inflated and border on extortion. The only reason we had to pick up after hours was because they towed it after hours. After a little research on the internet I have found numerous accounts of TBT Towing routinely "patrol towing" or "roam towing", basically waiting for the business that they have contracts with to close, so that all the cars in the lot are now unauthorized and then can tow them all and pocket thousands of dollars in fees. I think it is clear from the amount of other people from the concert that were waiting at TBT while we were that this is what they were doing. This practice is currently illegal in Washington and is usually done without the businesses’ knowledge or consent.
Comments:17 Replies - Latest reply on 2006-10-26
Posted by D. on 2006-06-25:
Tow Mater would never treat anyone like that!
Posted by spiderman2 on 2006-06-25:
Let this be your lesson not to park in a business's lot without permission whether they are near closing time or not. It is called trespassing and they have every right to have you towed.
Posted by KarinD on 2006-06-25:
I fully understand they were legally within their rights, but the amount of the fees and the way they conducted business was out of line. Also, it was not Donna's that requested we be towed, TBT takes it upon themseleves to clear the lot after closing to reap in the fees.
Posted by glc on 2006-06-25:
Karin...See if there is a contract, or some kind of agreement between the property owner and the towing company. If there is one, like Spiderman said, tough lesson to be learned. If there is no agreement, the towing company probably had no right to tow anyone from private property.
Posted by spiderman2 on 2006-06-25:
Tow truck companies just don't randomly tow cars. Chalk this up to an expensive lesson. The contract they have with the stores is all the permission they need to tow you. You had no business parking in that lot, even if you think it was harmless. How do you know they don't need their lot after hours for deliveries. Also, there are liability issues involved with stuff like this.
Posted by Doc J on 2006-06-25:
Many, if not most, states require the property owner (commercial) to post a sign (some even specify that it must be lighted an letters at least 3 inches tall) stating that vehicles parked there will be towed at the owner's expense. If one has $350 to pay a towing bill in the wee hours, one has money to pay an attorney $100 to research state and local laws. I think this has been a real money-maker for the towing company and doubt you will find you have much recourse. Still worth finding out. Thanks for the warning!
Posted by Anonymous on 2006-06-25:
Were there signs posted? Signs you could see?
I'd call the Clark Howard Consumer Action Team (http://clarkhoward.com/inside/ask_team_clark.html)and see if this towing company is scamming people in the Seattle area? These towing scams are a big ripoff scheme you know. 2/ Have your boyfriend dispute it the cc charges. Good luck
Posted by tander on 2006-06-26:
Alot of places that have cars parked at their establishments usually don't want them towed here because the establishment has to pay the towing charges also, at least in this state they do.
Posted by Brenda Leah on 2006-06-26:
This is to Mrs. Manischewitz: Do you get paid for every Clark Howard link you post? LOL.

Oh and I saw your post about my cat, I posted a new pic. You can see her bling bling haha.
Posted by Anonymous on 2006-06-26:
This is to Brenda: No, nor am I affiliated with Clark Howard show or team. As a listener of the radio show I have yet to find a better informed group of individuals dedicated to consumer activism. (ducking) I'm going to start referring only the worst offender's OF "ripoffs, and circumstances" the show should take note. This complaint merits a call, as we've had towing companies going to parking lots and doing their unsolicited dirty deeds. BTW Yes I saw your new picture, I adore short haired cats, is it male or female? Name? Give him/her a nice neck scratch and kiss. Gotta love those cats. Mewaaah!
Posted by Anonymous on 2006-06-26:
Karin thanks for the post- It lead me to this story ( http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/161026_privatelot18.html ) - quite an eye opener and applicable to the entire country. Mrs M - Keep those links a coming. I learn more from your comments then anything else on this site.
Posted by spiderman2 on 2006-06-26:
tander -- we don't have to pay to have people towed from our business parking lot. We call the tow company and the police and the car gets towed. The towing company gets their money from the owner, not us.
It is incredibly rude to assume that you can park your car in a business parking lot just because you don't think they are in need of the parking spaces.
Posted by D. on 2006-06-26:
Any business that I've seen with signs up warning that unauthorized cars will be towed, states that it will be at the owners expense.
Posted by Anonymous on 2006-06-26:
And the sign says "No long hair freaky people need not apply"...
So I put my hair under my hat and I went in to ask him why...
He said you look like a fine outstanding young man I think you'll do...
So I took off my hat I said "Imagine that Huh Me working for you"...
Signs Signs Everywhere there's signs...
Blocking up the scenery...Breaking up my mind...
Do this, Don't do that, Can't you read the sign...
And the sign says "Anybody caught trespassing will be shot on sight"...
So I jumped the fence and I yelled at the house...
What gives you the right...To put up a fence... And keep me out...Or to keep Mother Nature in...
If God was here He'd tell it to your face Man You're some kind of sinner...
Oh Say now mister...Can't you read...
You got to have a shirt and tie to get a seat
You can't watch... No You can't eat... You ain't supposed to be here...And the sign says "You got to have a membership card just to get inside" Huh...And the sign says "Everybody welcome, Come in, Kneel down and pray"...
But then they passed around a plate at the end of it all
And I didn't have a penny to pay...
So I got me a pen and paper And I made up my own little sign...
I said Thank you Lord for thinking about me I'm alive and doing fine.
Posted by Brenda Leah on 2006-06-26:
Well, I don't think I get Clark Howard here on the radio (unless it's Satellite). So I've never heard em. Oh and she's a bengal named Zoe. :)
Posted by Anonymous on 2006-06-26:
rebuttal to Lady Lyrics (nice nym) for the record, pardon the pun, the song 'Signs' was on the charts the summer of 1971, that July, Jim Morrison was found dead in Paris. Brenda Leah: Zoe! What a gorgeous cat!
Posted by gowhereurtowed on 2006-10-26:
Check this out. seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/249633_towing24.html . It looks like towing companies that do ppi's in Washington state have to have the written authorization of the owner or a rep. TBT got a fine and it looks like they are on probation for photo copying the signatures. But it also looks like the law is being challenged. You might be able to call the dept of licensing and file a complaint with them. Another thing to think about is how much do they charge for a regular tow? Why is it so much more for an impound tow? These guys run tow trucks but they arent tow truck drivers they are extortionists. Call the better business bureau. Call the newspaper that did the article. I've never seen a "No parking unless it's just for a minute or after hours" sign. But when normal towing charges are 50 for the hookup and 3 to four dollars a mile, 250 is way out there. This is why people pay for motorclubs every year and never use them. They think that these are real towing charges.

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