Thursday, May 29, 2008
The Abusive Towing Fun Never Ends In Knoxville, Tennessee
All I can think is, good lord, don't visit Knoxville, Tennessee with a vehicle. This place makes even downtown Birmingham, Alabama look good by comparison...
The latest Knoxville horror story happened near the University of Tennessee, with a certain paid parking lot which has a habit of towing cars whether they pay or NOT. With nothing but a crude little slot in a metal box to stuff money (no receipts) people can't prove they paid, even if they did. The entire story is reproduced, below, but you can click here for a link to the original article.
The City Wrecker Commission says it doesn't know who to believe, yet this parking lot apparently generates more complaints than any other lot in the city. This was back in October of 2007, but I don't see any indications the problems were resolved.
Wrecker panel hears two sides of story about garage towing cars
No decision, just a lot of confusion
By Hayes Hickman
October 26, 2007
Members of the city's Wrecker Services Commission weren't entirely convinced by anyone's story Thursday as they heard from alleged victims of a campus-area private parking lot that, according to one Knoxville police officer, spurs more complaints than any other in the city.
But they're willing to hear more before they decide who might be scamming who.
The board, which regulates local towing companies, took the complaints of two drivers who both contend they paid their $5 to park at the 1815 Lake Ave. lot near the University of Tennessee in August and still had their cars towed.
Local attorney T. Scott Jones, who owns the property, offered a witness' sworn affidavit challenging one alleged victim's account.
The commission members offered their own doubts about the accuracy of the affidavit, but they couldn't make heads or tails of the drivers' stories, either - the cash-only parking lot doesn't provide receipts.
"There's no proof that the money is paid or not," said Pete Claussen Jr., who had to pay an extra $90 to Jim's Garage to retrieve his Mercedes-Benz after it was towed from the site Aug. 17.
Claussen said he knew well to pay. He had another vehicle towed from the same lot once before when he shorted the pay box by $1.
Terri Godsey's story was similar. She said she made sure to pay the $5 fee on Aug. 24. Her husband, Billy Godsey, had one of his company trucks towed from the lot before, when one of his employees neglected to pay.
"My husband jokingly said, 'You better get your money in the right slot,' " she said.
Nevertheless, her vehicle - also a Mercedes - was towed as well before the couple had come back from lunch.
"You're going to get towed out of that lot whether you put your money in or not," Billy Godsey said.
In the Godseys' case, Jones furnished the written testimony of an employee at the nearby First Tennessee Bank. In the affidavit, dated two months after the incident, the bank teller wrote that from the bank's drive-through window she had seen a blond-haired woman park her Mercedes in the lot that day. Godsey is blond.
"Someone said something to her and pointed at the box. She shook her head and did not pay as she walked past," Sherry Fritts' account reads in part.
The commission members, however, were less than swayed.
"Most of the banks I go to at lunch have a line backed up out into the street," said member Mark Kolander. "I don't see how she could have seen anything."
Commission member Jean Teague added, "There are people who sign affidavits who don't see everything."
Knoxville Police Officer Don Huskey said that in response to numerous complaints, he and a team of other officers recently parked and paid for three unmarked vehicles there to monitor Jim's Garage, which is contracted by Jones to patrol the lot.
"They did tow some vehicles, but they didn't tow ours," Huskey said.
Thursday's was the wrecker commission's second monthly meeting at which complaints about the Lake Avenue lot have come up. But the members decided they would need to hear from others next month - Godsey said she has two witnesses who saw her pay - before they could draw any conclusions.
Huskey also stressed that the city's only interest is in the trustworthiness of Jim's Garage, which also answers calls for police service on a rotation list of city-contracted firms. If an angry motorist wants to pursue a case against the towing company, he'll likely have to file a lawsuit, he said.
"I can't make them give you your money back," Huskey said.