Raleigh Wants To Put Brakes On Predatory Towing Companies
Posted November 21, 2002 5:29 a.m. EST
RALEIGH, N.C. — There are 111 complaints about towing companies at the State Attorney General's Office. Two of the top three companies are based in Raleigh, which is why city leaders are considering changes for towing companies.
Parking his truck in Raleigh cost Nick Brezinski $100 and a lot of aggravation.
"Nothing I could do about it. They said, 'Pay us the money or you don't get your truck back,'" he said.
City leaders may return the favor by making it a crime to tow cars that are parked legally.
"When someone is out at night at the BTI Center and comes back expecting to find their car, particularly if it's an older couple and that car is missing, it quickly goes from an inconvenient situation to being a public safety situation," said Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker.
Meeker said there are four trouble spots in downtown Raleigh: one lot near the convention center and three more in the warehouse district. He said the problem is not just with overzealous tow truck drivers. He claims state law requires every parking space to be marked with its own sign, but most lots only have one sign posted at the entrance.
"The proposed new ordinance will require that state law be complied with, and if it's not complied with, make it a misdemeanor punishable by $500 for any predatory towing," Meeker said.
"It would probably cut down on a lot because the tow truck driver is not going to want to pay out of his own pocket if they makes a mistake, so they would probably think twice before they tow somebody," Brezinski said.
Tow truck driver Doug Harrison said too many people in his business want to make a quick buck off parked cars.
"It'll save a lot of people a lot of aggravation. It will make wrecker services think twice before they do tow a car," he said.
The Raleigh City Council will take up the towing issue in mid-December.
WRAL also checked the records of the Better Business Bureau to find complaints about towing companies in Raleigh. They had files on 22 companies, but only four had unsatisfactory ratings.
Action Towing, which used to be Brentwood, and was the subject of several Five On Your Side investigations, has since moved out of state. The others are Mark's Towing, Professional Detail and Towing or Pro Tow and Viper Towing. Companies are given unsatisfactory ratings by the BBB for not answering complaints.