Sunday, April 20, 2008
Minneapolis Towing Horror Stories: Burger King In Stadium Village Boots Like Crazy
Above, the only photo which turns up on Flickr.com if you search "Burger King" and "Stadium Village." Yeah, I could have taken this photo myself plenty of times. This establishment is tough on folks who park in their lot, but incredibly kind to homeless people who are allowed to sleep in the restaurant all night, as long as they buy something.
Gabriel Hicks, a grad student at the Humphrey Institute gives the following account of a run-in with a "car boot," "rent-a-cop" and a nasty German Shepherd...
I was "booted" with that funny device they lock onto the front wheel of a car. I parked in the Burger King parking lot, intending to pick up a burger after a visit to the gym. The spot I parked in did not say "tow away zone" though the lot itself had one near the exit.
[Yeah, there's very little attention to principals of good signage in these private lots, and it creates a lot of traps. Another thing needing regulation!]
I noticed the boot on my car and a "private police officer" with a gun and a large German Shepherd approached from a van. He claimed to be under contract with the City of Minneapolis and the property owners. He demanded $100 to unlock the boot or he threatened to call the tow truck, which would cost $247.
[You really have to wonder if this is legit, or some kind of scam cooked up with a manager, honestly. Contact with the city? On a private lot? Booting the vehicle but shaking the vehicle's owner down for $100? It sounds very fishy to me, and I don't mean the admittedly tasty Filet-O-Fish I often enjoyed at this establishment...until learning of these practices, I should say!]
I wasn't happy and the dog barked at me. I didn't have the money on me so he had me swipe my credit card in a portable card reader he had with him. Then he took out a key and unlocked the boot.
I tried to find the city statute authorizing this but the website was down for maintenance. I also kept my "receipt" and tried several times to call the owner to complain but nobody answered. I eventually did talk with him but he just referred me to the property owners.
I never did find out why it costs $100 to unlock a simple boot.
[Yeah, especially when you compare your story with the story of Steph Peterson, who managed to get her vehicle unhooked from a tow truck for somewhere between $5 and $7, depending on how you look at the "true price." What I suspect are SHAKE DOWNS by unscrupulous people who put money in their own pocket]
I know they just want to punish traffic violators, but that still doesn't explain a price THAT high. Also, I found the business listed as a "repeat offender" with the Better Business Bureau although I have forgotten its name.
Thanks for doing a story on this type of thing. Parking at this University is RIDICULOUS. I'm glad to be almost free of it!