Anybody beaten a tow?

Once it’s already happened, I mean?

My boyfriend parked his van in the grocery store/mini mall parking lot across from his business. He knew they towed, but he wasn’t expecting to leave it there all night, and in fact he didn’t. He went out there at midnight and it was gone. Now, the signs are only posted at one entrance and they say you can’t leave a vehicle “overnight”. 12 isn’t overnight, it’s working late. He’s not a drunk college student, he’s a business owner across the street! The people who own the parking lot say it’s out of their hands and in the towing company’s hands now.

So, we can’t fight it at length, because the price goes up by the day, and you don’t want to be one of those people who ends up ten grand in the hole for the principle of the thing. Also, he can’t afford the $128 at all - he’s thinking of shutting down his video production business because he can’t pay his employees. He tried calling and being reasonable and Winning Friends and Influencing People, but it didn’t help.

Any advice?

Nope. Can’t help you.

I once got pulled over because of expired tags. (I swear, I thought they expired in June, and this was May.) On running my plates, the cop discovered that I had one or two (or more) outstanding parking tickets. He had my car towed then and there. I had to take off from work the next day to pay about $800 in fines and tickets in two different cities. I got back to the lot probably 5 minutes after they’d closed, so I had to pay about $80 in storage fees the next day. A few months later I got a court summons, to which they added the charge of being uninsured (I was not). Instead of taking chances with a judge, I paid $150 in court costs.

Thanks to me, the city had a balanced budget that year. I should get some kind of reward.

I don’t think it can be beat. They have the car and they are a private company, not some legal entity trying to be “fair”. Towing companies do this all - day - long and I’m sure they have heard every story there is to tell.

My story - I was on crutches, parked in a legal spot with no sign anywhere. I arrived to find the tow- truck just backing up to my car. The driver told me he was contacted by the building (who owned the lot) to tow all the cars in that area and that was what he was going to do. Nothing I could say would change his mind and he proceeded with his work. I did convince him to let me ride along to the lot so I didn’t have to crutch my way for the 2 miles or so. Oops, I forgot, they only take cash. So I conviced the nice policeman, who was there to keep order with all of the outraged towees, to drive me to an ATM to get cash. Then I got to crutch back, only a half mile or so, to get my car. Fun times.

Pay the money … or try a Homer Simpson style break out.

True, they’re not there to dispense justice, they’re there to turn a profit, and they have you by the balls. Suck it up and pay is your best strategy.

Worst towing experience - my wife got towed, and it was very late and snowing. I volunteered to retrieve the car, paid up (painful), only to realize that there were hundreds of cars in the dark lot and they were all covered in snow.

Asked the guy where the car was, he didn’t know.

Spent the next hour searching the featureless humps of snow in the dark for my car.

How is that even legal? Yes, it’s private property, but so is your car, and there’s a sign that specifically says “No Overnight Parking”, and it isn’t goddamned overnight!

I guess pay it and then consider small claims? We’re writing to City Council about the predatory towing in Five Points.

Were the store & mini-mall closed? It’s not unreasonable for them to consider “No Overnight Parking” to mean “No parking at night after the stores that this lot services close”. They’re not going to park a guy there from dusk till dawn, keeping track of which cars parked when. I don’t think you’ve got a leg to stand on.

The only case I’ve heard of someone beating a tow was when it turned out they did in fact have the sticker allowing them to park in a particular prominently displayed on the car, but got towed anyway. Even then, it took the owner of the lot threatening to cancel the tow company’s contract before the guy running the tow yard would go out and look at the car.

And FWIW, YMMV, DTTAH, and I have no idea if this will really work or not - I’ve been told that if you come to your car to find the tow driver hooking it up, you should jump into the drivers seat of your car. They’re not allowed to tow the car with a person in it, so as long as you’re willing to wait them out, they can’t tow you and will eventually leave.

Anything past midnight is technically the next day, so it’s probably legally “overnight.” It may be that the towing comapny is using the most self-advantageous interpretation of “overnight” that they can legally get away with, but I imagine the owner of the lot would still have to sign off on it.

The bottom line is that they probably have the legal right (and they know it) and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Here’s where you do what my friend’s soon-to-be-ex did: catch a ride in the tow truck and give the driver your child support money so he’ll let you take back your uninsured car. That way you can drive it away on your expired license. :rolleyes:

The owner of the lot is all “It’s out of my hands now, sorry bro” but I’m sure that if he really wanted to do something he could. You see how far that Five Points Business Association crap runs, right? He called me at 12:11, so I assume he called them first, like, at the stroke of midnight. Yes, the stores were closed.

I know there’s probably nothing in the world to be done, but it just pisses me off. I can legally carry a gun in your store if the sign you posted telling me not to is an inch off in dimensions, but you can tow my car any time you want to for the hell of it?

In an age of computerized recordkeeping, even one outstanding overdue ticket is almost guaranteed to lead to a very painful experience.

They can get away with it because of one simple reason: They can get away with it. And it’s profitable for them to do so. It seems to me that the best way to fight this is to make it so completely unprofitable for them that they give up begging for mercy. I have no idea where you’d start on that, though.

As it is, $128 is dirt cheap. Wait a week on this and you’ll find out what expensive really means.

It’s not “for the hell of it.” It’s because he parked on someone else’s property without their permission. The sign was posted and it was totally legal. Trying to quibble because in your interpretation “overnight” means something different to you is asinine. Your boy friend, according to your own OP, knew he was taking a risk. He gambled and he lost. I had the same thing happen to me once many years ago and it totally sucked. I didn’t whine about how unfair it was, I just took my lumps.

The owner of the lot has no legal authority to tell the impound lot to release your car. Once it’s off their property, they have no more say in the matter.

They also have the right to clear their lot after those businesses close. They have no obligation to provide people with free parking after they lock the doors. I know it’s upsetting and aggravating to have a car towed, but your boyfriend just messed up. I think you might possibly be feeling a misplaced sense of entitlement about the use of other people’s property. They didn’t do anything illegal or unethical.

We once had a very aggressive tow company in town . Someone firebombed their office and burned it down. The cops said “we have about 10,000 suspects” meaning anyone who had their car towed by those guys. I don’t recall if the crime was solved.

I’ve been in similar circumstances. Parked for 2 hours in a No Overnight Parking spot and got towed: the 2 hours were between 2 and 4 AM, as I met friends to watch a meteor shower.

Turns out the decision as to whether you are breaking the law is made by the tow truck driver on the spot, at which point he alters the crime scene and removes the evidence. The presumption is that he’s always right.

The legislators have willingly ceded this ability to make (or make up) the law, enforce the law, and interpret the law in court (remember, the tow truck driver is presumed right in the court) – all three branches of American government – to a for-profit enterprise with an inherent conflict of interest.

I drove my wife’s car once and it was towed with a parking permission hang tag displayed. Turned out the people I was visiting had, in violation of every sensible principle, kept last year’s expired guest parking hang tags on the same hook as this year’s *current * guest parking hang tags, and didn’t look to see which was which when they got one for me to put in the car. They knew they were doing this, because the instant I returned and told them I’d been towed, they looked at each other and said , “ohhhhh… did we give out last year’s tag again?” Heh.

Now if I am their guest, parked with their permission and a tag with their parking number on it, you’d THINK that if the parking lot is being operated for their benefit, someone would them and ask “Hey, is this car a guest of yours? 'Cause I noticed the hang tag is last year’s.” But in actuality it’s an adversarial system – the tow truck operator is out to get anyone hecan conceivably make a case for towing, and damn the interests of the people who own the parking lot, the space, and the contract with his towing company.

They lacerated a tire towing the car, and tore some of the weatherstripping jimmying the lock, but they (and the police) said “there’s no way to be sure it wasn’t like that before it was towed,” so we’re SOL. I don’t really understand that – if that’s their standard, how can they be sure about ANY crime scene, and how do they get any jury to convict under that standard?

The people I was visiting paid for the tow, but that did nothing to square me with my wife, who loves her car and really hates having her privacy violated.

Why doesn’t your boyfriend park at his business?

You are right, the tow drivers get a lot of latitude and they are in it for the bucks, nothing else.

If you want to take a crack at them, take them to small claims, but be prepared to owe them court costs if you lose. Perhaps argue the use of the word “overnight” is too vague and they should be required to post specific hours of no parking. Maybe they will refund all or some of your money instead of going to court. After all, overnight means overnight, not parking for 10 minutes sometime after midnight.

Yes, I sued the business that authorized the two in Small claims and they paid up in full in settlement before the Court Date. However, in this case, it was a “guest parking permit” and the area was only posted for “no parking by tenants”. I was not a tenant. The sign did not specify a guest permit was required.

You can write the owner of the business a certified letter, stating you will sue in SCC if he doesn’t refund your fees. If he fails to do so, you can sue in SCC. IANAL, etc. But do this after you have retrieved your vehicle, which you should do at once.