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.)