I located the following "non-consent towing horror story" on this blog:http://ninjatales.wordpress.com/category/minneapolis/
The horror story is notable for its "class consciousness."
St Paul Snow Plowing and Ticketing Rules are a SCAM 11 01 2008
First of all, on Wednesday night around 9:30pm, Kaci’s car got ticketed due to the “Snow Emergency” that was in effect while she had her Tiburon parked out on the streets. We’d just gone out to eat at around 8:30 and got back at 9:45 to see a plastic packet under the wipers. $45 because the side of the street she was on was a “Night Plowing Route” but we didn’t know it was cuz of the lack of signs. So well she got her ticket and the Night Plow starts at 9PM and goes on till 6AM but the streets weren’t plowed at all. Below is a picture of the street after she moved her car to a WEST-EAST street (Buford Avenue) where I parked my Civic.
If we thought that was injustice, imagine my surprise when I went to move my car at 9:30am the next morning to the spot in front of the house. Kaci had left late in the evening so her car was gone which is fine but my car was missing as well. One side of the street was plowed while the side where my car was parked wasn’t. WTH is going on here? I thought only the streets with the “Night Plow Route” signs were plowed. Buford Avenue (East-to-West street) didn’t have any signs.
As you can see in the above pic, there are treads of my car and it looks like it was dragged since I had my hand-brake on which effectively locks the rear wheels on a front-wheel drive car. Now I couldn’t be sure if my car was towed by the City of St. Paul/Minneapolis or if it was stolen. So logged onto the internet and found this website relating to “snow emergency” procedures. Clicking around told me that Day Plow Routes had no signs and would be in effect from 8am to 5pm. That is stupid. If there are no signs, they should at least have the courtesy of leaving my car behind or the $45 ticket fine on the windshield.
Now like I said, I didn’t know if my car was stolen or if the city had towed it away since my side of the street hadn’t been plowed. Somehow, I found this # 651-603-6895 (for St Paul towing) to dial which was supposed to take me to the office involved with the towing. Dialed it a million times to see if they had my car in the impound lot but nobody’s picking up the phone. A whole hour of dialing and not a single person picking the line and there’s no voice-mail feature either. How annoying. There was another # on the website 651-603-8695 which would lead me to a “This number is no longer in service” message.
Finally fed-up, I logged onto the official City of St Paul main website and called their Customer Service # 6510603-8989. A lady answered the phone and diverted me to this # 651-487-4700 saying that was the direct line. I told her that the City of St Paul needed to hire someone part-time to answer the phone because it’s driving a lot of people to frustration to which she told me to apply online. Then she thanked me and told me she was transferring me to the # she advised me because she couldn’t help any further on the matter. Transferred but no pick-up. Called up the # 651-487-4700 but no answer to the line again. Called the 603-6895 number multiple times and switching between the 487-4700 line every few attempts.
Finally, a rather rude lady answered the phone. I asked to confirm if my car was in the lot and she said she didn’t have that ability. Then I asked her what was required to get back my car if in the event that it wasn’t stolen and the city had indeed impounded it. Her requirements included a valid driver’s license, valid auto insurance, and the vehicle title. She said there would be a $45 charge for the ticket, $191 for towing, and $5 for using a check or debit card if payment wasn’t made in cash. The ticket was an automatic if your car got towed I guess. I told her that my insurance card had me printed as the owner and that was why I probably wouldn’t need my car title to which she responded saying that if I had recently sold my car, the insurance card would still say I was the owner. There was no way to verify if I was the owner.
Now I was calm and polite the whole time as I was talking to her while she was yapping angrily away at me as though I was the devil himself. I argued that my title was at home an hour and a half up north and I couldn’t possibly get there without my car. She told me that I could buy a duplicate title from the DMV which would set me back around $15 or $35. I asked her if I could get it for free since it’s only something that shows I’m the owner and she said I HAD TO BUY the duplicate title. So very unhelpful. I took down the address information for the nearest DMV in St Paul and the impound lot.
Then I then told her the same thing that I told the lady at the CSR line for the city - they needed a part-time person to pick up the phone on the other line to which she told me to look for jobs on the website if I was looking for a job. I told her there were no job postings for it so she should add it herself. She told me she would add it only if she was told to do it by her supervisors and if she were me, she would purchase the title from the DMV to get back the car. Before she hung up abruptly, she didn’t even have the professionalism to say this magical accepted phrase - “Have a great day!” What a bitch! I was now seriously pissed-off.
The girlfriend came to the rescue. Drove me to the DMV first to purchase my title. On the way, I called the good folks out at the DMV (651-292-9791) located above Sears in St Paul near the Capital building and a very pleasant speaking lady in sharp contrast to the person behind the line told me that I could have it printed for free as long as it’s just a document showing I was the owner. Got there and waited for 30 minutes. Called the line again and the same lady informed that since I was only there for a print-out, I could go to the far-right corner and pick it up. And I picked it up. Had her stamp it just to make it official. Hope she gets a raise.
We drove off to find a WellsFargo ATM and found one at a gas station. My stupid Gold debit card wasn’t working. Thankfully, Kaci’s WellsFargo card worked and I withdrew $200 and already had $50 in my wallet in cash so that was good. Off to the impound lot.
Then drove over to “1129 Cathlin St, St. Paul, MN” to pick up the car. Dang. A long line already outside the small building and the temperature was in the teens and light snow flakes making their way down. Everybody was cold and miserable. Good thing Nima was there to keep me company along with fleeting broken conversations of the grumbling nature. As we were waiting, the line kept getting longer and longer. Around 500 people in the compound as more and more tow-trucks came in with more cars hauled in. A news crew came over but the security people hustled them outside. They kept filming from outside the compound. Everybody and myself including appeared disgruntled. Bad day to be outside waiting to pay $240 and pick up our car. It’s almost like the line to go purchase a Nintendo Wii. After about nearly 2 hours outside, finally got inside the building. Another long line there with people waiting to pay their $240.
Get this now. Inside, a security officer was announcing saying that if no driver’s license, you needed a title to the car. If you did have a driver’s license with insurance, you won’t need the title. There were large signs also saying the same thing. That stupid rude lady on the phone either lied to me or doesn’t know what the frak she was talking about.
Finally, my turn after nearly 3 hours. Here’s the breakdown of the towing charges contrary to what the news incorrectly reported as $122 in total fines a few weeks before this incident.
1. Tow Charge: $123.07 (Average towing charges should range from $25-75. Those liars.)
2. Storage Charge: $0.00 (Thank God I went there on the first day)
3. Admin Charge: $55.00 (To pay all the grumpy employees.)
4. Sales Tax: $12.46 (WTF man. Sales Tax for paying your stupid fines?)
5. Service Charge: $0.00 (Now what the heck could this be? Doing an Oil Change?)
6. Total Charges: $190.53
Then they slapped the $45 ticket onto it pushing it up to $235.53 for towing my car. Around me, clerks were squabbling about pennies with some of the poorer people who had their cars towed. Very sad picture.
Below is a picture of my car after I brought it back. It looked so pretty and I was so glad to be able to see it again that I had to take a picture. So now here it is for all to see while at the same time, it’s increasing my desire to one day look into the eyes of all the people responsible for my horrible day and see where they’re at someday in the future when I’m making a 6-figure income. Here’s to hoping karma acts as a catalyst in making my dreams come true.
And all this happened the day before I was to leave Minnesota for Florida which added to the high levels of stress I was already experiencing due to Northwest Airlines not having a seat ready for me on all my flights to and from Orlando.
So if ever in doubt, don’t hesitate to call 651-266-PLOW or 651-266-7569 (for QWERTY keypad phone users) to find up to date info on snow emergencies and plowing routes.
If there is one thing I learned from this event, it is that the laws of this nation are out there to protect the interests of those in power. In my case, this poorly thought-out “snow emergency” rule is a constraint only to the poor and lower income citizens who can’t afford to own a garage or secure a private parking lot. So not only are the poor targeted by this snow-emergency law, the rules ensure that if the poor people who had their cars towed are unable to come up with $236 in cash (which should be easy right?), they have to wait outside for a considerable amount of time in the nail-biting cold, and still made to pay an additional $5 penalty for using a bank debit card or a check.
Yea, let’s put them in their place. Let them know that they’re the lower-class citizens and that they deserve to be punished. We should ensure they get stuck in that position by having them lose more money, so we will never have to worry about them making as much money as us. Cuz you know, it would sure suck to have an ordinary person driving a brand new Lexus or BMW and pulling up next to us at a traffic stop. Yea. Let’s strip them of any dignity left in them by taking all their money and humiliating them by making them stand outside in the cold. That should be enough to make them disillusioned enough to never make it big.
Further commentary: one can't help but compare life in Florida to life in St. Paul. What will make people willing to move here and put up with our severe winters if this kind of surprise towing is so much a part of life in Minneapolis-St. Paul?