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Towing Threat Reveals Problems within the Industry

A bogus towing threat shows that there are few protections for car owners even when they are in the right.

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Parking Problems

We’ve all been there at one time or another---no parking space available, but you just need to get in and out and be on your way hoping that no one will notice. It’s a chance some of us take and hopefully accepted with some grace if caught and ticketed because we know deep down we were in the wrong.

Related article: Tesla Reverse Summon Could Find Your Parking Space

But what if you park legally and wind up being towed anyway? Does being in the right protect you? Not necessarily.

This was the message in a recent online news piece from Newsweek where a new apartment tenant found a threatening tow letter on her windshield from a neighbor. Turns out the neighbor had been using the tenant’s assigned spot for some time because the apartment had been vacant until the new tenant arrived. Presumably, the note-writing-neighbor had some squatter’s rights thinking going on and did not want to give up “their parking space.”

The new tenant posted her story on Reddit in which she got some pretty bad eye-for-an-eye and passive aggressive payback advice that will more likely than not get her car keyed and/or tires slashed.

However, there was at least one voice of reason posted:

“…DannyDucks replied: ‘You should put the liability on the apartment complex to take action. You pay rent and parking to them to take care of these types of issues. You should let the apartment complex correct this versus you get into a parking war with a random person.’”

Few Protections for Towing

The point of all of this in the Newsweek piece is that there is some research made by the United States Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) that has looked into the inconsistencies related to towing across the country.

What they found was that:

• "Under the best circumstances, getting towed is an ordeal, even when justified."

• “An alarmingly high number of states have no protections spelled out on issues such as whether a consumer is entitled to an itemized bill, or a reimbursement if their car is damaged...”

• "Only about half of states set any kind of maximum fees for towing or storage of vehicles towed without the driver's consent.’

• "More than 30 states don't require rates that do exist to be displayed or disclosed.

In other words, you really need to think twice before (1) parking illegally in the first place even if it’s an in-and-out thing, (2) parking illegally thinking squatter’s rights apply, (3) putting a note on anyone’s car threatening them with towing, and (4) calling a tow truck on anyone when it’s not your job---let the police and/or the property owner do their job.

The piece ends with two helpful recommendations:

• If you think your car has been towed illegally don’t go off half-cocked and mad. “Contact the local police department's non-emergency number, who may be able to track down the car easily if the towing company has notified them.”

• Go over the towing bill carefully and be sure to dispute damages done by an inept towing service. "In many states, you could receive a full reimbursement or even additional compensation for an illegal or careless tow."

And I would like to add a 3rd very important tip:

• Never get in a confrontation with a towing service tech during a tow. For one, you open yourself up to a strong possibility of being accidently hit by a passing rubbernecking driver (or a Tesla), and another is that the news is full of towing-related violence where someone gets shot.

Let’s be safe out there by being smart.

And finally…

For additional towing related articles, here’s one for your consideration titled “Tow Company Warning and How to Protect Yourself When Towed.”

COMING UP NEXT: Toyota RAV4 Full Review and Common Problems Update

Timothy Boyer is a Torque News automotive reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites for daily new and used vehicle news.

Image Source: Pixabay

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