Monday, June 30, 2008


(Photo by Hilda M. Perez, Orlando Sentinel / June 23, 2008)
(Fair comment and criticism)

Paul Gren of TowTruck Company of Orlando is, beyond a doubt, a notorious man and a bad actor in the towing game. However... bad as Gren is, and as easy as it is to loathe and criticize somebody like Gren, this guy did not spring up in a vacuum. Orlando has big parking issues in its downtown area, such big issues one local who has lived in the area 20 years said downtown Orlando was "a source of shame" and he refuses to bring visitors there.

(Just look at him! Putting that expression on his face like, "I'm just a businessman. Why are they making me a bad guy?" And the whole while, he's been raking citizens over the coals and breaking rules left and right. This great photo captures it perfectly; the AFFECTED nature of Paul Gren's facial expression)

Lately, because of Paul Gren, not only is Orlando severely restricting the use of boots, but Orange County, Florida, is following Orlando's lead, according to this article.

Other bad acts by Paul Gren

Here's yet more information about how bad Paul Gren and TowTruck Company of Orlando actually is, according to yet MORE information I turned up.

* In 2004, TowTruck Compnay of Orlando impounded an SUV on a Saturday night with 21-year-old Chris Richard passed out in the back seat, causing Richard's mother to threaten a lawsuit. The receptionist at TowTruck Company was described as talking to Eyewitness News through "bulletproof glass."

It is easy to laugh at somebody like young Chris Richard, and characterize him as an irresponsible college kid, exactly like the blog where I located the story, "Right-Thinking From The Left Coast."

The problem is other, more vulnerable human beings could have been laying in the back seat of an SUV just as easily as a drunk college kid, such as a small, sleeping child or infant, a handicapped person, or a citizen unconscious due to a medical emergency. Vulnerable pets could be in the vehicle, as well, sitting in the shade with the window adequately cracked...but then the vehicle gets towed to a blazing hot Florida impound lot.

And no, not all dogs would bark madly, and not all human beings would be able to cry out and attract some attention. How much effort does it take for a tow truck driver to check a vehicle for occupants, as they are required to do? They're snatching cars so quick they don't want to waste a few seconds while making their getaway.

* TowTruck Company of Orlando was involved in another incident on June 10, 2003 which ACTUALLY DID involve towing a vehicle with a 7-year-old boy inside, according to Lindy T. Shepherd of the Orlando Weekly, who wrote about her own trials and tribulations in two amusing articles, "By hook, crook or the book" and "I fought the towing company, and I won."

Paul Gren's "Pimped Out" Ride

* What does Paul Gren do with all the money he shakes out of Orlando citizens? One thing he did was to buy an expensive custom motorcycle with a "graffiti" theme in the paint job, according to this article I found online. I will not critique the man's aesthetic tastes, but my tongue is going to hurt from biting it so hard.

Focus on the systemic issues, not Paul Gren

I fear the bigger issues of parking in downtown Orlando will be missed in a rush to give Paul Gren what he deserves. Reigning in Gren's abusive booting is an important piece of reform, but stopping Gren won't solve the parking crunch in downtown Orlando, and though a lot of complaints focus on Gren, many don't.

In a city which can brag of such a high tech attraction as Universal Studios theme park, you would think Orlando could adopt some technological solutions, including what has become the visionary centerpiece of my own reform efforts: a way to notify citizens of an impending tow.

In one of the Topix chat rooms, a poster mentioned how something called "courtesy cards" once existed, which allowed at least one tow truck company to make a phone call to auto owners who regularly used certain parking lots, to ask questions like, "Sir, did you forget your parking pass today?" or "Are you aware your permit expired half an hour ago? Can you run down and take care of that?"

The future of downtown Orlando

Imagine a more high tech form of the "courtesy card" which would allow vehicle information to be scanned, and vehicle owners to be notified of an impending tow. If Orlando could implement something like this, then maybe downtown Orlando could become what its most ardent supporters hope and dream, even with its ongoing parking crunch.


Autumn said...

I work at a nightclub downtown therefore I have to pay to park in the lots downtown nearly every night. Last night was one of our busiest nights this year, so when I got to work the lot on Washington I typically park in was already completely filled. Because we were so busy it took extra long to clean/close the club. I walked out of work at 4:06 am, getting to the lot I was parked in at 4:07 to realize my car was GONE! I immediately called the number on the sign [the sign that states cars may be towed 24/7 which I thought was irrelevent as I'd paid to park in that lot] and got a rude man named Richard Asphault [A stage name, I'm sure]. I explained that I worked downtown and parked on this street every night with no issues. He said that if I read the ticket stub the lot attendant had given me that I would see that it clearly states my car had to be out of the lot by 4am.

If you are or have ever been in the industry, you know that sometimes it is IMPOSSIBLE to be out before 4am! This is complete blasphemy to me! Where are we, as honest hard working people of this community, supposed to park for work?! It's bad enough that we already have to pay $20 to $40 per week just to go to work, why should we be penalized for doing our job also?

I went to Towtruck Co as advised and let 'Richard' know that I was there. I called him back twice to make sure he was actually sending someone out as I had waited 45 minutes already. Nearly an hour after the initial call 'Pete' finally showed up to let me in. Being a bartender, a good part of my nightly income is in quarters at the end of the night so I decided that I was going to pay $30 of my $100 tow fee in quarters. When I put the [neatly rolled] quarters on the counter, Pete informed me that he wasn't going to take them, that he wouldn't take anything but 'paper money'! He stated that there was an Atm [I conveniently didn't have my debit / credit card] and that if I needed to change it in I needed to go to a gas station. I then called the police, who showed up and informed me that this company had complaints multiple times weekly.

I feel that this business practices completely unethically.




This company needs to be shut down!

Anonymous said...

so i guess you think that that because you sling drinks...your excepted...well lil missy...someone told paul to tow your car dumb girl...paul gren is my boss.. he is a humble man that works for his family...he is a good person that makes a living like we all do..sorry your all pissy and feel you need to post a huuuuge page about him...really people??? how about we focus on our kids or our country or something other thqatn..."that guy towed my car!!!! he should be put awy! waaa waaa waaa...just pay the g.d. fine and be on your way...pety people. bash bash the towing company! im sure youl get re-poed next and it will be all the fault of the repo guy huh?? really?? freakin killin me seriously...aaahahah im sure paul gren is laughing along with me..aaahaha thats an american for ya..waaaaaa :(

Anonymous said...

uhh yeah lets see... buying cars and motorcycles and homes is what we all do when we have sure you all didnt know paul gren owns other business you relly think he can buy lux items on your pety lil 100 towing??? uh no...simple minds need simple direction... bitter lil humans angry cuz their car was towed..aaawww i sorry.. grow up idiots!

Spectacle Photo said...

Its Not the fact that this company tows people and then charges them...Its the way they treat people when it happens. No business cards just some dirty ass building in the hood that smells like a fucking litter box...and cash only...hum? I wonder why they do that? I understand that if you park in a "no parking zone" you will get towed. And if you don't want to be treated like crooks when you do tow a car...then maybe you might want to clean up your appearance...Oh look at us we have tinted windows and a bar code for a logo.

Please feel free to list the rest of this dirt bags companies so I can be sure to not use them. Cause if you didn't have my car for ransom I wouldn't give you shit. I say we make sun blockers for our windshields that say "FUCK YOU & Your TOW TRUCK"...maybe if the city saw these all over its "Family friendly city then it might do something about these crooks. I will be sure to make one ASAP and flip off your trucks every time I see them.