Monday, November 30, 2009

Been towed?

Posted By on Mon, Nov 30, 2009 at 4:54 PM

I have. This past summer, I met an interviewee in the middle of the afternoon at the Starbucks on East Boulevard. I was in a hurry, as usual. Since I noticed a few signs in the parking lot and a tow truck driving through, I made sure to park all the way in the back in a space sans signs. P.S. The parking lot was practically empty.

Thirty minutes later, my car was gone. My interviewee said something about the towing company and the business next door, something about how they're ridiculous about "their" parking spaces.

It cost $120 to retrieve my car -- not counting the taxi fare to get to A United Towing Inc. on Foster Avenue, and definitely not counting the time it took away from my life and business.

Did I learn my lesson? Yep: Don't patronize businesses on East Boulevard. It's simply not worth it when you can get the same food, service and goods elsewhere minus the worry or the hassle.

Tom Bartholomy, president of the Charlotte-based Better Business Bureau of Southern Piedmont, said towing complaints this year have more than doubled to 71. There were 33 at the same point last year.

He said many of the complaints are coming from Dilworth and South End because they have popular night spots but limited parking.

He said tow companies secure contracts to patrol certain lots and then allegedly "stalk" them. He said people complain that some companies station tow trucks around the corner and then await signals from spotters with walkie-talkies so the trucks can swoop in.

"As soon as the people walk into the wrong store, they immediately boot or tow the car," he said.

Bartholomy said the Key Man Building parking lot off East Boulevard near Starbucks is a hot spot for complaints. It's patrolled by A United Towing Inc.

A worker who answered the phone said United follows the city ordinance and only tows people who are "caught stealing" parking. She said a supervisor wasn't available to be interviewed last week.

Read the entire Charlotte Observer article here.

Want to tell someone about your experience? Contact the Charlotte Better Business Bureau at (704) 927-8611 or reach out to your city council person here.

Remember when tow trucks were stealing cars in Charlotte last year?

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