19 Feb

Boycott businesses that support predatory towing

I frequently visit the Olive Way Starbucks, right across the street from not one but two of the apartment buildings I lived in during my misspent youth (back then, the Starbucks building contained a Red Robin). When I am at Starbucks, usually studying, I’m always there until closing time—but I usually manage to get out the door right before midnight, because I hate to keep the employees there late. Apparently this tendency has saved me from the predatory practices of TBT Towing, who service the Starbucks parking lot.

Apparently, TBT line up tow trucks there right before closing. At midnight, since the store is no longer open, no one is technically a “customer” any longer, and so TBT starts towing. To the tune of $280 for each car. Of course, Starbucks in general are pretty slack about kicking people out right at closing time (in my experience, anyway), so people have come out of the store a few minutes after 12 to find their cars missing, and TBT laughing all the way to the bank.

Starbucks claims they don’t approve, and I tend to believe them, because there is no way that authorizing this is in their interest. Bad PR for sure, and after closing, there is no need to rush to clear that parking lot. (The real problem there is that during the hours the store is open, the lot is often full, and on-street parking in that neighborhood is a rara avis indeed.)

The real infuriating thing about this article, though, is the “nyah nyah nyah” attitude of the towing representatives quoted, from TBT and from West Coast Towing. Predatory “patrol towing” is against Washington state law, but the companies claim that they can do it anyway and they are going to keep doing it.

From now on I am going to look at the signs in parking lots to see which tow companies the lots’ owners have contracted with. If I see TBT or West Coast, I will avoid giving the merchants my business, and I will tell them why. I hope you will do the same.

(I had this article saved all day yesterday to blog about and never got around to it. Better late than never, I say.)

85 thoughts on “Boycott businesses that support predatory towing

  1. Pingback: Anita's LOL

  2. Before accusing a company of “Predatory Towing” as was done in a recently published article, the writer should be sure he/she knows the facts. The recent article in the Seattle PI was incredibly full of distortions and even lies. The author is right that “patrol towing” is against the law and TBT Towing DOES NOT engage in that practice. The PI “reporter” never bothered to visit TBT and examine the file of the tow in question despite our invitation to her to do so. Nor did the author of the article in your publication contact our office to discuss his/her concerns versus the facts involved. Owners of properties in Seattle pay HUGE amounts in taxes and other costs for their rights to these properties. They have the right not to have to clean up beer bottles, needles and garbage left behind by those parking on their property without permission. MANY business owners have banned after hours parking in their lots because of the actions of a minority of jerks who have no respect for other’s property and left behind a trail of garbage. Two quick points here…First of all, anyone who takes what is printed in the PI as gospel needs to get a clue. Unlike publications such as Slumberland which seeks to give an equal voice to all, the PI edits and decides what we will receive as “news” and what slant will be placed on it. Second, instead of pointing the fingers at a towing company simply doing what they are contracted to do, let’s point some fingers at the small handful of jerks whose past behavior brought business owners to the point of feeling the need to no longer permit parking after their businesses close. I am glad you printed the article by “itinemo” because when there is open dialogue we all win…but as General Manager of TBT Towing I just wish that our office had been contacted and the article published was factual and not based solely on an outrageously fictional article in the PI.

  3. Rick, thank you for writing — however, Slumberland is not a news publication, but a personal opinion weblog in which I post links to interesting things and discuss them a bit. As such I don’t research what I post here in the same way a news organization would. I was posting a reaction to the P-I article, not an independent investigation. (I also sent this reaction to the P-I as a letter to the editor, but they did not publish it.)

    Now, regarding the article: it is in no way appropriate to tow customers’ cars within, say, 15 minutes of closing. (Seems reasonable to allow people some grace time to come out of the business, wrap up their conversations and leave, etc — unless the business has made a point of asking them to move their cars immediately, which that Starbucks does not do, in my experience.)

    Starbucks denies authorizing the towing in this circumstance, but witnesses claim that there were several TBT trucks lined up waiting for the stroke of midnight to tow. Do you deny this? Of course, it’s in Starbucks’ interest to deny authorizing the tow, since it’s such bad PR for them. Are you saying they are lying? I would love to know.

  4. litlnemo;
    Thanks for giving me the opportunity to clarify the towing situation at Starbucks. You raised a good point that needs to be answered. No cars are towed from Starbucks or any other of our customer’s lots without their authorization. In the case of Starbucks, during business hours the staff does indeed check with customers in the store before requesting a car be towed. Once the store is closed, the doors are locked and there are no customers in the store, they put out what cars in their lot do not belong to staff members and authorize their removal. Our trucks then begin clearing the lot. As mentioned in my initial article to you, this policy did not develop because Starbucks wanted to be hard nosed or mean-spirited. It developed because of people parking in their lot, going to bars and parties in the area and then leaving a trail of trash, including used drug needles, etc, behind. Obviously in people are outside finishing conversations they would see the tow trucks arriving and move their cars. The reality is that 99% of the time when cars are still in the lot the owners have moved on to a bar or some other location. In Seattle there is a court called “Impound Court” held once a month. Any individual who believes that their vehicle was unfairly impounded has the opportunity to go before the judge and explain why the impound was wrong. The towing company and the business ordering the impound also explain their side…then the judge makes a decision. In the past twelve months TBT has been to impound court regarding approximately 95 impounds. In only 6 cases were the impounds ruled to be improper. In those cases the customer gets his money back. But our track record in court speaks for itself as far as how we do business and the fact that we operate within the law. Yes, there have been times when someone may have seen some of our trucks nearby prior to midnight. If we have been advised that there are far more cars in the lot than people in the store and it is almost closing time, it makes sense to have our trucks nearby. Please remember that the manager on duty can not leave after his/her shift until after our trucks arrive because every impound must be authorized and signed for. You asked me if Starbucks is lying. No, but they were grossly misquoted in the PI article as was our supervisor. The week the article was published I happened to be in the hospital yet spent over one hour on the phone with the PI reporter prior to publication of the article and yet every word spoken to her was ignored. What is even more interesting is the fact that long before the PI article appeared we, along with Starbucks adjusted our procedures to not tow until after 12:20am to give that grace period for a customer who may have just run over to an ATM or some other short errand. The PI reporter was advised of this but said absolutely nothing about it in her article.
    I hope this answers the questions and concerns you raised. By the way, on the rare occasion a customer’s car is towed by mistake, whether it be our mistake or Starbucks, that car has always been returned free of charge.
    Your website provides an important service for the Seattle community. As demonstrated by the fact that the PI failed to print your letter, the print media in this city care little if at all of providing a voice for the people. Keep up the good work.

  5. Thank you for providing your perspective.

    “If the Starbucks is closed, the people who arrived in those vehicles are no longer customers. And the towing company stands to make thousands of dollars in towing and impound fees from that lot and others that TBT contracts with, two of the company’s tow truck drivers told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.”

    There’s a clear financial incentive for TBT (or other towing companies) to be aggressive in their towing. Which, perhaps, leads to this:

    “Starbucks representatives said they didn’t call the tow company to clear the lot, but that employees signed permission forms that authorized the towing. Starbucks subsequently asked the company not to show up unless called.”

    The implication here is that TBT trucks are (or were) showing up to be ready in case they are needed, not waiting to be called. So then the employees were signing the authorization — but my reading of this is that these were cases in which they may or may not have bothered to have the cars towed if the trucks weren’t there.

    I don’t deny that the site owners have technically given the right to do this; however, it’s pretty clearly a customer-unfriendly policy and one that does not make me look kindly on businesses that support it.

    Incidentally, the “trail of trash” in that lot is frequently left by people who didn’t even leave their cars unattended there. There is a bus stop right there, and tons of pedestrians cross through that lot constantly. If keeping the lot secure is so important to the owners (does Starbucks currently own the site, or just lease?) a gated lot would seem to be ideal. It’s not a huge lot, so it wouldn’t be terribly expensive. That they haven’t yet done that makes me think that lot security isn’t a big motivation for them. (I also imagine they hire custodial workers to clean the lot of any “trail of trash.” Towing is not the only way to keep that lot clean.)

  6. Thanks for hosting this exchange, and pinging it to Seablogs! It’s always nice to be able to get additional information and perspectives on local news and issues beyond what’s printed in the newspaper.

  7. Thank you!

    Here’s something else I stumbled on regarding this story. If this blog post is true, then some tow companies do tow without authorization for each tow from the lot owners. They don’t say which company is doing this, however.

  8. Well I am going to try and get an impound hearing set today!

    I was parked at the parking lot adjacent to Washington Mutual on 45th. My friend and I were in the pub across the street for less than .40 minutes when we came out and found my car on a toe truck and several other cars in the lot were being towed. I was charged $240 on the spot to get my car off of the tow truck. I debated with the tow truck driver that the signs were not clear. And although he agreed and he agreed that it was a rip off, he stated that he had his job to do and his commission of $55 to make. He said he wasn’t happy about it either because he was at home fixing dinner when the “parking-lot attendant” called him to inform him of allegedly illegally parked cars.

    I was also given a parking ticket of $25 (which in all fairness) if I was parking and simply not paying would be acceptable. However to be given a ticket and then within two minutes my car to be towed is totally unacceptable. Just because something falls in that gray area of legal and illegal does not make it right. Diamond Parking have removed the parking ticket given to me that night but are not going to budge on the towing charge and my car never left the lot, I can’t imagine what the charge is when folks cars are actually impounded.

    Personally I am going to fight this. At least for no other reason that I got the impression it was a big scam. TBT offered me no towing or impound notice nor was there a centrally located price schedule or was one offered. The only person on the lot was “parking attendant” who seemed to be friends with the tow truck driver so my assumption is that this guy monitors the lot, gives tickets and immediately calls the tow truck operator. (I wonder what his “commission” is)There was literally .10 minutes from the time the ticket was printed to the time my car was hoisted up and we came out to witness a driver about to take off with my vehicle.

    This type of money making scheme will discourage me from every parking and paying anywhere – I’d rather park at a meter and take my chances or walk 10 blocks so as not to ever fun any Diamond Parking facility or tow truck business.

  9. One other note! WHO is the “authorized” person from Starbucks or any other business that makes the decision and signs an agreement saying the vehicles can be towed? I’d like to see a paper trail and find out how someone is authorized by a company to make such a decision!!!

  10. It was TBT towing in a Diamond lot? Hmm, that lot used to (quite a few years back!) allow free parking in the evenings for people going to local businesses. I guess that has changed. Was this at night or during the day?

  11. Last weekend, I parked at Goldy’s on 45th. I paid my 3 bucks. At 2:12am, I go outside, my car is gone. I call the towing place, they say that Diamond authorized the tow. I said, “Can I have their phone number?” The person from the tow company said, “Good luck getting someone on the line.”

    I walked home with my lady friend, who then drove me to–guess where?–TBT Towing. Towing charge–$220, After Hours Release–$55, Storage–$23. Now, how a facility can have “after hours” if they’re open 24 hours is beyond me. On my car, I find a ticket from Diamond–$25.00 for failure to pay.

    So, if I leave this alone, I paid $3.00 so Diamond can charge me an additional $25-$50, and so TBT can make (including sales taxes) $324.22. I don’t even like Goldies!

    So, Goldies, sorry, I won’t be going to your bar anymore. And Diamond, I’m going to do my best to fight the ticket–because seriously, if the $3.00 wasn’t enough to collect from me, you should just raise your rates instead of slapping $25.00 on top of everything. And TBT, man, sheesh. You had my car for fifteen minutes.

    Good luck to anyone who has had this happen to you in Seattle. And y’know, that idea, to never again park in a Diamond lot, that sounds like a good idea to me. We should try to expand the knowledge base on this. Let people know that the owners of Diamond certainly aren’t the salt of the Earth.


  12. So you paid the $3 parking fee and they towed you anyway? A bit quick on the trigger, aren’t they?

    I used to park in a Diamond lot several days a week, and at least once a month I would come out and find an envelope on my dash asking me to submit payment because I hadn’t paid, and saying I owed $25 for non-payment. In each case I *had* paid, and with a check at that, so I knew (eventually) that they had my money. So I would just call Diamond and bitch them out every time, and they would say “OK, you paid, don’t worry about the $25.”

    But they never ever bothered to tow from that lot. My God, it would have been ugly if they had, considering how often they screwed up the payments.

  13. Mr. Woodrow (TBT GM) has stuck his BIG FOOT in his MOUTH!
    Department of Licensing has found TBT GUILTY of violating RCW(Revised Code of Washington) RCW 46.55.080 (1),(2) and (3) and RCW 46.55.150.

    In summary TBT towing is in violation of:
    1) falsifying and claiming Starbucks authorized the tow(TBT LIED>>>>>>)
    2) TBT failed to keep proper records as cars were towed claiming one license plate number in TBT records and another on a “fake form” showing a different license plate which TBT falsely claimed Starbucks signed.

    I guess Mr. Woodrow is associated with a company which became GREEDY and dishonest by stealing people’s cars then claiming Starbucks said it was ok. Mr. Woodrow runs a bad business and BBB (Better Business Bureau) would remove his company if he had the professionalism to ever apply at BBB.

  14. (post edited by original poster)

    State Patrol is now performing a CRIMINAL investigation into TBT and all its employees(ie Mr. Woodrow). State Patrol is reviewing a possible CONSPIRACY of TBT management and employees in FALSIFYING authorization forms then illegally(STEALING) towing vehicles.

    Starbucks has CANCELED TBT’s towing contract due to unethical conduct of towing unauthorized vehicles. Mr. Woodrow FALSELY deflects this as saving face BUT refuses to accept the FACT that Starbucks DID NOT authorize tows after Oct 2003.

    Mr. Woodrow is clueless how a form at his company has a signature of a Starbucks employee(claiming authorized tow) but the employee was NOT working at time of tow. Funny story for Mr. Woodrow the spin doctor!

    Mr. Woodrow(TBT GM) is merely a “spin doctor” misleading the public, State patrol, and DOL about the improper and illegal action of TBT employees(which Woodrow claims to manage…GM).

    TBT employees may soooooooooon face criminal penalties and Mr. Woodrow will attempt to deflect the actions of few saying he lacked knowledge of what his employees were doing. If Mr. Woodrow lacked knowledge of the actions of his employees then he lacks common business sense or worse maybe he was involved?

    TBT ILLEGALLY towed almost 1000 vehicles from Starbucks after October 2003. Starbucks has stated NO vehicles were authorized after October 2003 but Mr. Woodrow seems clueless about forged paperwork for approximately 1000 illegally towed vehicles could exist at his company when Starbucks is DENYING no paperwork was signed. TBT is FACING a COMPLETE review of its records keeping system.

    TBT will face “letter of reprimand” immediately and be forced to improve its record keeping process. Costs, costs. costs….

    BAD TBT business practices now will “cost” TBT and Mr. Woodrow(TBT GM) profits. Maybe Mr. Woodrow should have focused on the ethics of his employees to hold down costs now being absorbed by lawyer fees and employee time involved in DOL and State patrol investigations.

    (Hmmmmmm is Mr. Woodrow clueless about his team?…….lol). Maybe Mr. Woodrow is just a poorly trained employee(GM) lacking knowledge of his employee actions or maybe he is hiding the truth with his misleading rebuttals which DOL and State Patrol find inaccurate.

    Maybe this group could check Mr. Woodrow’s comments with the DOL, State Patrol before posting as his comments are inaccurate

  15. “Maybe this group could check Mr. Woodrow’s comments with the DOL, State Patrol before posting as his comments are inaccurate”

    Mr. Woodrow posted his own comments. They are not pre-approved by anyone here at Slumberland.

  16. Yes, I paid the $3.00 fee. I don’t know if TBT falsified documents or not. Diamond never showed up for the impound hearing, although TBT did. The judge declared an improper impound and ordered DPS to pay court costs plus the impound fee. Also, strangely, in my initial correspondence to DPS, I requested validation of the debt–specifically, the records that showed I had failed to pay the $3.00. They didn’t provide that, and instead sent a letter that my, “appeal was denied.” This is a violation of Federal Law per THE FAIR DEBT COLLECTIONS PRACTICES ACT; if you request proof, they must provide it within thirty days. I can’t believe Diamond is trying to collect on this.

    Before the judge made his decision, I asked him a question about the validity of some of the fees. He wondered why–I had already won–but I’m no fan of TBT towing. The question was, “How can you charge $55.00 for afterhours towing when your business is open?” The TBT rep said that it was legal–after ten minutes, I finally got an answer. A towing business posts hours on its building, say, 8:00am-5:00pm. Now, anything AFTER those hours–at least according to TBT–qualifies as an after hours tow–hence, the fee applies. According to the judge, this is per state statuate.

    Needless to say, I’m writing my congressperson after the payments are resolved–that’s ridiculous. What’s to prevent a business from, say, posting a sign that says they’re open from 12:00pm-1:00pm, then charging an after hours fee for all tows that occur “after regular business hours”? GRR! No more parking in Diamond, and TBT will never get any of my business–and if they ever tow my car again, I’ll see them in court!!!!

    A lackluster Seattle economy is no excuse for PREDATORY TOWING PRACTICES!!!!

  17. Wow. Thanks for the follow-up post — this is interesting.

    To play devil’s advocate here, I imagine that they may have to pay higher wages to night workers as many businesses do, so they charge higher fees on that basis. Still, it seems like they are just doing it because they can.

  18. Sure, but that’s not my problem. If they have to charge more, then fold that cost into the fee for the towing. It’s a simple question–how can you have after hours fees if you’re open? Is it any coincidence that the After Hours towing fee is the same amount ($55.00) that is paid to “certain drivers” in commission for tows? I don’t have a problem with the people doing the job–sometimes you need tow trucks and such. I have a problem with companies defrauding consumers for profit. I see what you’re saying, and I’d agree IF I thought the law wasn’t being abused. At least to me, it seems clear that TBT is abusing the law.

  19. I suppose they could just call it the Because We Can fee instead of the After Hours fee… 😉 It is interesting that it is the same as the commission fee.

    Please do write your congressperson. I agree that an “after hours” fee seems silly in this context.

  20. This is all VERY interesting, and encouraging/discouraging at the same time. I live in the panhandle of Florida and recently had my Blazer towed from a parking lot. My son had parked it there to go into one of the businesses where he works to speak to the manager about an injury he had received. This was after his shift at another restraunt where he also works and was about midnight. He was in the restraunt less than 30 minutes, came out, and the Blazer was gone.

    The encouraging thing from this site is that people are aware of this predatory towing, but the discouraging thing is that the more I look, the less I can see that Florida has any sort of appeal process in place. Or, I should say, Okaloosa County (where I live and was towed) has no process in place that anyone seems to know about. Even the Clerk of Courts and the police and the Sheriff have just shrugged their shoulders in ignorance.

    My only recouse seems to be small claims court, which I am doing. Seems to be more than I should HAVE to do, and yes, they charge exhorbitant fees in a simple extortion fashion.


  21. Wow, that is discouraging that there is no appeal process. We do have one up here in Seattle, at least.

    Was the lot owned by the restaurant or a third party?

  22. Just a quick update–Diamond has dropped their collection of the ticket I paid and has promised to send the reimbursement check. If this ever happens to you, fight fight FIGHT IT! I’ll be sending correspondence to the legislature next week–and also to some local news sources in Seattle. Take it easy!

  23. The lot was/is owned by a third party. There is a large and famous charterboat marina there. I am making progress on filing the suit. You have to have ALL paperwork filed at the time you file the suit. Nothing can be added later. Real pain in the A$$.

  24. Ah. If the lot is owned by a third party, I’m afraid it’s going to be more difficult for you, as they will probably say he wasn’t authorized to park there to go in to the restaurant, and I imagine a judge might go along with that. So good luck with the suit. :/

  25. I realize most of the discussion here centers around Seatle, WA towing and TBT, but for anyone interested, KY has similar laws as WA. Towing from a private lot is allowed, but only when authorized by the owner of the lot or the attendant. The towing service cannot remove a vehicle at its discretion nor can the owner or attendant delegate their authority to authorize towing to a 3rd party. As I read the statutes, I think the tow company could recieve authorization from a parking attendant or from the owner. I’d argue that a regular employees (and perhaps even a non-owning managers) lack the authority to authorize towing, because that would be a third party delegation. I’m not sure what the wording is on the WA law, but anyone looking into this in their own state will want to read that statutes that cover this issue and also look to see if there are any State Attorney General Opinions on the topic. If you don’t have access to legal research materials, most State Ag’s Offices are very friendly and helpful. They’ll usually answer phone calls and/or e-mails. I’m glad I stumbled across this forum today, very informative. Good luck to everyone fighting against these bastards!

  26. Thank you for the information! I am kind of amused that people keep stumbling over this old blog post. I guess it’s an issue that a lot of people are angry about. 🙂

  27. its seems that good old tbt towing is up to its usual tricks i was extorted for money for the tow driver to go away when i told him i was going to call the police he threatened me with a phony assault charge he yanked my car in drive with the engine going witch other towing companys say probably smoked mt tranny when iwent to check on my car i found my belongings that had been in my trunk on top of other cars in the lot i took pictures of course i am taking them to small claims court if any one has any sugestions i am all ears i have been going around to area businesses that have tbt tbt towing signs explain whats going on and then ask them to take down the sign and go with a more reputable tow company you know your garbage when other tow companys say bad things about you and are willing to put it in writing

  28. I couldn’t believe when I came across this post. I wish it were just 5 months earlier. I, too have become a victim in this TBT scandal. I just wonder if the investigation is still in effect about the fraudulent authorization from Starbucks, or what’s the word. I had to pay the drop fee of $240.00, when they didn’t even move my car. Why am I paying 240.00? I called a couple of other tow companies and the most that I came across charged 160. and half the price for the drop fee. The police were also called and they told me that it is a huge scam. I believe that they are still not authorized to tow, because the informer in my situation was from Highland Parking SVCS, who I checked out through the Dept. of Licensing and they are not licensed and unlisted in the phone book. The woman attendant admitted that she recieved $5-10 per towed vechile. Her name is Ruth but she wouldn’t give me her last name or didn’t even have a business card. I also called the restaurant that I was towed from and they do not know of a Highland Parking SVCS? I am currently contesting my ticket, but I would love to know some of the outcomes of previous experiences or advise if any? My friend and I were also physically assaulted by the receptionist HELLY from TBT towing when we went in to get her car out of impound. They were so unbelievably rude and uncooperative. A witness called the police to report the assault when Helly pushed us out, slammed the door in our face and locked it. Mr. B (the alleged supervisor) would also not complie with giving us contesting forms to fight this incident, the officer had to get them for us. Rick Woodrow, the general manager, was also present but would not talk to us regarding the contesting forms or releasing my friend’s car. He just sat there and watched the whole thing go down. Is that the use of a general manager? I don’t understand how or why these people are still in business!!! This is absolutely ridiculous! I hope people come across this before it is too late.

  29. Thanks for the posts! I strongly recommend that you write to the local newspapers (try the P-I writer who wrote the original TBT story that I linked above) as well as City Council members, etc.

    Unfortunately I think most people who find this weblog post are people who have already had towing problems, which is why they do the Google search that (I assume) is what leads them here. So to get the word out, you should try publicizing your message as many ways as you can, so people hear it before their cars get towed. 🙂

    Good luck, everyone!

  30. My wife and I were called at just after midnight by my stepdaughter, Leanne. She, too, along with about 25 others had been victimized by TBT towing, to the tune of over 300.00 per car! Additionally, in order to access their cars for warm clothes, cellphone, etc., they were being assessed an additional 55.00! According to Leanne, the sign in the parking lot where she’d been indicated free parking, meaning the TBT legally didn’t have a leg to stand on. At any rate, I will be visiting the parking lot in question and taking pictures, adding them to my file which will be presented when the time comes to make my case. Unbelievable!

  31. WoW! I am sure glad I found this website! I, too, have been a victim of TBT’s towing scam! I have impound towing court against TBT on Friday, and can’t wait to address some issues with the judge. Th parking lot I was parked in did not have clear signage, it gives the impression of a empty lot, while TBT had taken advantage of this and made thousands of dollars off innocent people like myself. Indeed, now I always keep my eye out for TBT towing and will not park in any lot with their name on it.

  32. I totally agree about boycotting places the have predatory towing or in the case of where i live booting. I’ve tried to get people to join the boycott i’m trying to start where I live, which is Poughkeepsie NY.

  33. Amazing, thanks for the informative thread. I was just towed from Donnas Diner on 1st south by TnT. I was donating my time to do sound for a Tsunami benefit show at Premier. Parking ticket – $65, tow $315. Mr. Woodrow actually thinks his business is legitimate? A $315 dollar impound makes as much sense as a washing machine charging you $30 per load. Unabashed extortion – period. The charge to get my car out after being impounded for 2 hours amounts to 2/3 my monthly rent! I paid with my credit card and definitely will be contesting that charge with Visa. Does anyone have any suggestions on which way I should go with my arguement in court? It was dark, and I surely didn’t see the sign, but is that the best route?

  34. I’m sorry you got towed. Good luck in court! I’m afraid I don’t have any great suggestions for you as I haven’t had to deal with this in court myself, but maybe someone else will post something. I know where that Donna’s Diner is, and I will definitely boycott them if they are using TBT.

    By the way, the other towing company I wrote about in the original post of this thread, West Coast Towing, was just shut down by the state! At least one victory for the little guys! 🙂

  35. If the person in comment number 37 happens to sign back on “carma” please email me at lmeoli@entrix.com . I also attended the Tsunami benefit and came out to find I had been towed. Same price tag on both Parking Control and tow. Would like to compare stories here…I am pursuing. Thanks.

  36. Since Carma has noted my silence the past several months I feel compelled to offer a briefing posting. There are a lot of things I’d like to say but I am limited due to some of the on-going discussions currently taking place with the DOL. I understand the anger of those posting their experiences of having their vehicles impounded. Private impounds are expensive in Seattle and are as much a penalty for parking on someone’s private property without that business owner’s permission. The State of Washington approves all towing and Impound charges. Some of the bloggers have taken great delight in the negative media attention and allegations made of TBT Towing. I believe that in this country we are still innocent until PROVEN guilty and we have yet to have our day in court. We have already proven the Starbucks lied on numerous statements they have made including their approval of tows. While the proof has not been made public yet it soon will be and each person can judge the merits of that proof. In our own internal investigation we did find three drivers who were bending and breaking the laws concerning impounding and their contracts were terminated. One of your writers accused me of lying and that is not accurate. As I have stated all along we have a company policy that bans all types of patrol towing and any other violations of state law. I also have said all along that I can not be in every truck and watching the actions of every driver on every tow. When complaints are filed they are investigated and we go from there. The truth is that no one agrees with any practice that allows their car to be impounded and when it happens to them they are majorly pissed. That’s why there is the Impound Court where everyone gets a fair hearing. I am all for bloggers writing anything that’s on their mind, even as some of the postings here have been, what is being posted in accurate. In fairness though, I hope that in the midst of lively and important debate, everyone keeps in mind that at this point in time the allegations against our company are just that, allegations. And, these allegations have all been based on information from one side of the issue and that we have yet to be given the opportunity to fully be heard and our side of the story be heard. Hopefully in the very near future we will have our web site up and running and there will be time and a place for the full story to be told. In the mean time, regardless of whether your car ends up impounded by our company or one of the other towing companies and you feel that it wasn’t fair, avail yourselves of impound court where you’ll get a fair opportunity to plead your case. Good luck to all of you and be a little bit fair and hold up on your final judgement until our side has a chance to be heard.

  37. LOL…rick has “painted” himself into a corner. Yes you can’t be in every truck as you state but you are responsible for every truck. Stop ripping good people off…bottom feeder.

  38. I’ve watched the TBT sleazoids doing their dirty deeds…all lined up like aligators on the river bank, waiting for their prey. And Mr. Rick of TBT Fame:
    does anybody at all believe this bottom feeder?!
    I was in the underground parking lot of the Fremont PCC last Friday evening,
    where I’ve parked dozens of times…all for the sake of spending lots of cash
    at the Fremont PCC. I was in the store about 20 minutes. When I come out to
    my properly parked car (one of about 10 cars out of 150+ slots), there is
    an envelope on my windshield with a computerized printout from DIAMOND PARKING RIPOFF, INC. saying that my vehicle was “improperly parked.”
    Well, I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. I mean, the car was in the
    lirttle slot, between the little white lines!! Anyways, they want me to pay
    a fee of $25. And if I don’t pay within 15 days, it goes to $50 and off to collection. How sweet! Well, if those rich, arrogant bastards at DIAMOND
    think that I’m going to pay anything to them they are Fucked! I wrote a letter
    to PCC management, exclaiming my horror and the simple fact that since parking in Fremont and any time is rough, that if I cannot park in that lot, then I cannot
    shop at PCC! Well, folks, that’s where the buck stops, I guess, cause PCC said they would “handle it” for me. And that is fine with me, too. Cause, about a month ago, some friends and I were at a show in Belltown and parked in a Diamond lot. We’d paid fully…I mean, why not? It’s a pay lot- we all understood that. Simple enough. And I personally handed the money directly to the attendant.
    Well, 3 hours later, the attendant is gone and there’s this freakin’ lock-device type thingy attached to my front driver’s wheel. I used to be the wrecking yard
    business and I accumulated lots of spare tools in my time there. Two such items,
    a butane torch and a serious pair of bolt cutters.
    So, rather than calling the cops and screaming and shouting. I simply fired up the torch and cut the little fucker off of my car, taking it home with me to inspect later on. I suggest everybody gets themselves a torch and a bolt cutter.
    It’s either that or they get a gun and shoot the fuckers!

  39. Didn’t I just say to avoid the name-calling here? You can complain about TBT much more effectively without resorting to that.

    Anyway. Yeah, in my experience when you pay Diamond the odds are still relatively good that they will claim you didn’t. It happened to me a bunch of times. In your case, are you sure the attendant worked for Diamond and wasn’t just some guy hanging around to fool people? Of course he might have been a Diamond employee and just pocketed the money. In my experience with this it was always an unattended lot, so I figured that maybe people were stealing from the box. However… I always paid with checks, and they were always cashed, so apparently that wasn’t what was going on. At least whenever I called Diamond to complain they always told me not to pay the fee.

    I like your solution to the wheel boot. 🙂

  40. Whoa! Remind me to use public tranportation next time I visit Seattle. It seems that predatory tow operators are everywhere, including So Cal. Congressman Cox of Newport Beach has co-authored an amendment to a transportation bill that will make tow operators answerable to state and local regulators (the wonderful 9th Circuit Court effectively invalidated California laws that protected against such as TBT). Look for him at http://www.house.gov. Good Luck all in your efforts.

  41. Greetings all,

    Towing is a nationwide epidemic. I am speaking here on behalf of DC, Maryland, and Virgina ! I have been a victim myself ! Of rogue and ‘unlawful’ towing. For which the private property owner actually reimbursed me, knowing that they were wrong in towing. This was after I filed this issue in a small claims court in Maryland.

    Check out my blog: http://towingandautotheft.blogspot.com
    Feel free to post comments.


  42. I’ve just spent an interesting few minutes reading this page, and it’s a bit of an eye opener. I live in England, and we have similar problems here, though not as bad as you seem to have. I live near a city called Brighton on the south coats, and they have a very aggressive towing policy there. It used to be that parking violations were the domain of the police, then they introduced traffic wardens, still the responsibilty of the police, but solely used to issue tickets. Now traffic wardens are employed either by local councils or, more commonly, by private companies who are contracted by councils to provide this ‘service’. And as you expect, where a company is involved and there is money to be made, we have abuses. I was towed myself a while ago, at a cost of 120 (which is about $220 at curent rates), for no apparent reason. I thought my car had been stolen, a call to the local police gave no sign it had been towed (they should be informed immediately), but luckily I managed to get a lift to the impound yard and get it back. An expensive night out. One person I know had his car towed, the police were never informed and it sat in the pound for 3 months, clocking up ‘storage charges’. I believe it ended up with a bill of over 3000, although at least in this case was cancelled. But these companies are still active, still towing perfectly legally parked cars, and since the only way to get them back is to pay, pay we do. Add in the speed cameras that bloom like a rash over our roads and driving out of your own driveway is likely to cost you hundereds of pounds.

    We do have our own way of getting back though, http://www.anglegrinderman.org/component/option,com_frontpage/Itemid,1/

  43. In response to comment #37, and various others that look like some people may not have enough knowledge about predatory towing and the likes. In summary, research and/or contact your county or city government to find out about your local tow and impound $$ cost caps. There will definitely be some. Just like pretty much all other cities and counties in the U.S.

    If you clearly see that the tow and impoundment was done without a probable cause, and/or without the due process of the law, and if the involved parties do not agree to reimburse you, then consider filing a small claims action in your local district or civil court. That should straighten out a few brain cells of the involved parties ! 🙂

    For more details, feel free to check out my blog and surf/search through it:

    Enjoy. And good luck.

  44. I know I’m late chiming in on this, but I thought I’d add a little different perspective. First and foremost, I should say I am the Operations Manager of a large towing company in the Tacoma Area. We do have contracts with property owners but the focus of our business is commercial accounts and private customers. This is because I would much rather wake from my bed and leave my family to help a stranded motorist than to become the parking lot police for some pub or apartment complex. One larger firm in town seems to have the majority of the private impound business and I have heard rumors that their methods are a little on the gray side of the law. That being said, not all tow operators are crooks or predatory. Many of us in the industry suffer with the poor image displayed by our competitors. Secondly, in the State of Washington, the property owner or owners agent must be present at the time of impound. This law is intended to stop patrol or predatory towing which is illegal in this state. Third, every person is afforded due process through an impound hering and the tow truck company MUST give the person redeeming a vehicle an impound hearing request form. If you do get towed, and you think it was wrong, request a hearing and you get to bring the people who had you towed into Court. If you prevail, the court will award you the impound fees, filing fees and loss of use (currently defined as $50 a day). Finally, all rogue tow companies should be exposed and hopefully shut down. It’s good for the consumer and for the industry. Before everyone dismisses the towing industry as full of bad people, remember who will risk their lives on the side of the freeway in all weather conditions at all times of day for the stranded motorist (10 tow operators in America have been killed while on duty this year alone).

    links of interest

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