5 On Your Side

Customers confused after cars towed from Raleigh McDonald's

Posted November 25, 2013
Updated November 26, 2013

— Customers of a Raleigh McDonald's are getting caught in the middle of a dispute between the restaurant, on Capital Boulevard near Triangle Town Center, and the property owner, and it has proven costly.

Billy Marshall found his truck towed within minutes while he made his regular 6:15 a.m. stop at the fast food joint. Ace Towing hauled away the truck and charged Marshall $125 to get it back.

"I thought the truck had been stolen," he said. "I never would have dreamed it had been towed."

Marshall parked in a space just a stone's throw from the restaurant. "I mean there's nothing there telling me I cannot park there," he said.

Across the lot, there are signs designating those spots for customers of a nearby Kmart.

Many customers are clearly confused. 

Teng Ortega told 5 On Your Side his car was towed while he was in McDonald's and his wife shopped at Kmart. Danette Cheatham thought she parked in the McDonald's lot. Her car was towed in 15 minutes!

Claudia Shows says her minivan was towed within 15 minutes, when she stopped for lunch before going to the Kmart.

State law requires signs be posted at lot entrances. There are signs, but not at every entrance.

A complaint filed with the state Attorney General's office describes "a bitter property dispute between McDonald's and the owners of the KMart property, Z.A. Sneeden's Sons," out of Wilmington. Towing records show Ace has removed at least 162 vehicles from the lot so far this year.

A spokeswoman with McDonald's said they are "working with our neighbors to resolve the issue." She said they'd like a solution as quickly as possible.

Z.A. Sneeden's Sons didn't return calls from Five on Your Side.

"Anybody can see that it's a tow trap. It's obvious," Marshall said.

Beyond being angry about the hassle of the tow and now being out $125 dollars, Marshall has a simple request for both McDonald's and Z.A. Sneeden's Sons.

"I'm a little bit old fashioned," he said. "If you don't want me to park there, put me a sign there."

Since 5 On Your Side started asking questions about the lack of signs, McDonald's has painted golden arches to mark their spaces, but customers continue to wonder why there are no signs in the immediate vicinity of the disputed spaces. McDonald’s also added a warning to the door of the restaurant, warning customers that they might be towed.

Sneeden's is also the owner of the Kmart shopping center at Western Boulevard and Blue Ridge Road in Raleigh. Almost 400 cars have been towed this year from that location.

Howard Reifs, a spokesman for the operator of that K-mart location, emailed this written statement Tuesday: “Kmart was disappointed to learn about the hundreds of legally parked cars belonging to our customers, members and associates were towed from the parking lot adjacent to our store at Western Boulevard and Blue Ridge Road in Raleigh. We are taking action against the landlord, Highway One North Partnership, to ensure that this practice is terminated. We look forward to serving our customers and members this holiday shopping season.”

97 Comments

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  • Just Plain Common Sense Dec 6, 8:22 a.m.

    TO Superman, and anybody else who is quite as arrogant: obey the law; tape it off, close it off, and posta sign at the entrance! How ridiculous, for the business owners to punish both of their patrons. If I lived there, I would boycott both businesses. Kmart prices are ridiculous and cheap, and McDonald's food is just bland, full of empty calories, dirty bathrooms, and pricey. The towing company is the only hawking winner. Shame on them, but we just finished a joyous season of thanks, and now we head to the spending spree: Christmas, isn't it? The holidays. Wow, what a concept!

  • BubbaDukeforPresident Dec 4, 9:53 a.m.

    Lesson learned - don't shop at either K-Mart or that McDonalds. Go where you're appreciated.

    The town of Boone is the worst I've seen for towing. For a town so dependent upon tourism, it is pathetically limited for parking. Bill's Towing makes a killing trolling King Street. Students, most of whom have little to no money are the prime victims of a town that's more interested in collecting fines than they are attracting customers to downtown businesses.

  • leeloo67 Dec 4, 8:39 a.m.

    The law is very clear about signage and towing. Signs have to be a specific minimum size and in a specific location. They also have to be legible (the townhouses across from me have signs but they are faded to nothing - they are asking for trouble if they tow anyone).
    A friend was towed in downtown Raleigh a few years ago and there were no signs within sight if the spot she was in. She got her money back easy. I'd suggest any victims look into the signage rules and if there are any violations show them to the company and ask for your money back (and demand it back if they refuse).

  • Glass Half Full Dec 4, 8:27 a.m.

    I'll no longer patronize the K-Mart's in Wake County.

  • carmalee Dec 3, 6:33 p.m.

    We were towed from the K-mart on Western Blvd. The entrance we used was not marked and there were no signs where we were parked. What a rip off! This lot had been a park and ride lot for years and you would think that they would have big signs telling you that it is no longer one. There are 100's of spaces in this lot, most of them empty. The space we were in was far away from the store and certainly would not have impacted any shoppers.

  • superman Dec 3, 5:22 p.m.

    No business wants people to park in their lot when people dont shop there! How would you like it if I parked in your yard while I went to a party at your neighbors house? Is a vacant parking space an invitation for you to park? You should be considerate and intelligent--park in the right place. Parking at a fast food place is usually around their building and does not extend to areas beyond. You dont need signs to know you parking in the wrong place. Just use some common sense. Doesnt make any difference who is responsible for the towing-wrong is wrong.

  • dspiveysl Dec 2, 2:42 p.m.

    I witnessed ACE Towing at work in the Kmart Lot on Western Blvd during the State Fair week. Ace was driving carelessly to get cars out of the lot as fast as possible. They wouldn't wait in line to exit lot, Ace with car in tow went on wrong side of entrance to exit in heavy traffic.

  • jimkrugjr67 Dec 2, 12:56 p.m.

    It seems to me that the landlord is the problem, not Kmart. I'm willing to bet the landlord is getting a kickback from the towing company. Think about it, almost 562 cars towed from the 2 properties this year, at $125.00 per car. That's $70,250.00! Even with a 10% kickback that $7,025.00.

  • jellybiscuit Dec 2, 12:35 p.m.

    Poorly written article. The implication is that KMart is the one initiating the towing, which is not the case. It's the landlord.

  • shortcake53 Nov 27, 3:38 p.m.

    There are never more than 20 cars at that K-Mart at any given time. Most shoppers prefer Target or WalMart just up the street. The fact that they are towing cars out of spaces to make room for customers is hilarious. My sympathy to those who have been towed, K-Mart needs to reimberse everyone for such ridiculous actions.

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