Thursday, May 29, 2008

Towing Horror Stories From Orlando, Florida (Preying On People In Wheelchairs) photo, downtown Orlando, FL

After consumer advocate Gregory Dawson of the Orlando Sentinel mentioned on his blog, two horror stories emerged from the woodwork...

First, an Orlando citizen calling herself "Lulu" wrote as follows:
There is more than one towing horror story in town.

Central Parking runs a lot on the corner of Washington and Magnolia that preys upon the handicapped and non-English speaking. The lot is monthly permit only during the day, Mon - Fri, but has like 6 or 7 conflicting signs and a meter box making it look like it is paid parking.

Plus the signs are mangled making them next to impossible to read. Disabled people park in the handicap spots and the second that wheelchair rolls out of sight the spotter calls for the tow truck to haul away the vehicle. A lawyers office sits in the middle of the lot, but they don't own the lot.

Get is owned by St. Luke's Cathedral, the Episcopal church behind the lot. Real Christian of them to tow the handicapped, poor and uneducated people who can afford it the least.

They could end the confusion by making it a secure, card access lot only, but then the church would lose revenue they make from event parking on nights and weekends and Central Parking would lose all the extra cash they get from their towing sting operation so there is no incentive for them to change. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Wow! That's serious, Lulu.

This information is unconfirmed, and I welcome other points of view and/or contradictory information. (It appears the church in question describes itself as "Anglican," but the two denominations are closely related)

I contacted the church through their website, to give them an opportunity to tell their side of the story.

Next we have the story of a towing operator who has found a sneaky way to get paid twice. I don't know if consumer advocate Gregory Dawson will pursue this one because apparently there is no end to the horror stories he receives, but he was kind enough to share the story with me, as follows.
I have a situation where I had sold my daughter's car. I gave the buyer a bill of sale and I kept a copy for about two years. I thought I no longer needed to keep the document and discarded it.

I am now informed my daughter has a lien on her license because the person never transferred title. He abandoned the vehicle and the car store located at 12811 W. Colonial Dr., Winter Garden was told to pick up the car.

The lien on the drivers license is for $278.20. I called the store and asked for an explanation of the charges. His response was, "Towing cost, paper work and storage."

I asked what happened to the car. I wanted to know if they sold the car and for how much.

His response was they crushed the car. I said "Okay, why have I not received the proceeds from the crushing as a credit? After all you you clearly stated what the 278.20 was for and you are not entitled to be compensated twice."

His response was, "I've been doing this twice a month for thirty years."

I said, "That does not make it right, in my opinion he need to return the illegal proceeds he has kept all these years and needs an atitude adjustment for his "I make the law and answer to no one" outlook.

It has been my experience from 50 years in business the law is "you don't get paid twice for one service."

I tried to reason with him. He would not hear it.

(Greg Dawson) do you know if this is the norm in the business of towing cars and being allowed to be treated differently from other businesses?

Greg Dawson may have his own answer, but here is mine: getting away with murder appears to be the norm when it comes to "non-consent" towing all over the nation. That's why I've started a blog about this issue.

However, when it comes to towing as an actual service, companies are forced to mind their manners. I see the issue of abusive non-consent towing as an emerging national issue.

Gas prices are only going to make the situation worse, since cars are now filled with "liquid gold."

Furthermore, the scrap metal market has increased the incentive to snatch cars on any pretense and reduce them to valuable scrap. That's exactly what happened here.

In closing, I'd like to add this: Gregory Dawson said my blog was "doing God's work." Well, isn't that supposed to be the job of St. Luke's in Orlando, Florida?

If Gregory Dawson ever has a surplus of consumer abuses involving towing, and can't take care of them all, a few can be kicked this-a-way. But Dawson seems to be doing pretty well as a one man army of consumer advocacy.


Anonymous said...

The parking lot at Washington Street and Magnolia Ave. is owned by the Cathedral but is leased out to Central Parking, which is entirely responsible for the day-to-day operations of the lot. Central Parking has an obligation to its monthly permit-holders to provide adequate parking spaces during the work week. Central Parking’s managers—not the church—determined that towing is necessary to ensure those who pay for a permit to park there have a place to park at all times during the work day. Until towing was enforced, it was frequently difficult for permit-holders to find parking spaces during the day. Signs posted at both ends of the lot clearly state there is no public parking between 6 am and 6 pm, and that towing is enforced. The only criterion for towing is not having a permit to park in the lot.

Johnny T. Utopia said...

And others say "conflicting" signs and a box which makes it look like it is paid parking. In my experience, people are seldom so specific about their gripes unless there really is some kind of basis to their complaint.

And if the Cathedral owns the lot, it is still morally responsible for what happens there, particularly if abuses are made public.