Sunday, November 23, 2008

Taken For A Ride At The Texas State Fair By Predatory Towing Photo

Amanda Miller was one of a number of people (allegedly) scammed by Lone Star Auto Services at the Texas State Fair, and she said so in an online forum. Amanda also said anybody who wanted the details about this now-infamous incident could contact her. So...

I sent Amanda an email, and soon enough she wrote her first person account and forwarded it.

Here it is.

WE DROVE FROM OKLAHOMA CITY TO DALLAS on Friday, October 10 for the OU/Texas game. We had a great time the night before. We hit the sports bars in the area, partied with people from "both sides of the fence," and attended the rally in the West End Marketplace. Best night I had in a long time.

The next morning we left our hotel at 8:30 thinking we had plenty of time to make it to the game, which had an 11 a.m. kickoff. The exit we needed to get off on was closed, so we had to drive an additional two miles. Once there, we were directed by police to parking areas; coming around a corner we were waived into a lot by five men in orange vests. We paid our $10 to park and headed to the game.

At around 8 p.m., we left the fairgrounds to head to our car and leave. We planned on hitting the bars that night to mingle with everybody else. After walking--on my bad foot, I might add, I had surgery on my left foot a week before the game--almost a mile to the lot we parked in, we were in for a rude surprise. The lot was completely empty, including our car, and there was now a "No Parking--Violators Will Be Towed By Lone Star Auto" with their phone number on it.

Panicking, I called the number and got a busy signal for about ten minutes....

(Editor's note: right here is where a website would have been handy, where individuals can just look up their cars online and not experience that whole minutes, hours, days of panic thing)

We had to hitch a ride with another parking attendant from another lot, since we didn't know where we were. They finally answered the phone, and promptly hung up on me.

Arriving at the lot, I immediately knew we were NOT in the wrong: there was a line of people all the way to the street, around 6 police cars, and a news van. I explained to the officer what happened (while crying!) who informed me I had the exact same story as all the others, and I needed to get in line.

After waiting 3-4 hours, I paid $200 (cash or debit only!) to get my vehicle out of impound. The woman behind the counter was rude and nasty, and we spent a good 30 minutes searching the lot for our vehicle because they couldn't tell us where it was.

The police stated they were there to keep the peace and couldn't file any reports because it was a domestic case. The newspapers the next day stated the police said people refused to file reports, so therefore nothing could be done--bull(expletive)!

Because so many people were scammed, this story made the headline news that Saturday night and the front page of the Dallas Morning News. I immediately went to work, calling anyone who would listen--newspapers, news casters, lawyers, City of Dallas.

The story a few days later said the company claimed they were not in the wrong, but other stories were dug up from the past about them. A news reporter from Channel 9 here in Oklahoma City went to my fiance's work for a story, and started contacting the company directly to get this taken care of.

I signed onto a class action lawsuit. The company called me--yes, called me!--and informed me that I was wasting my time, the towing company had nothing to do with this, etc.

I asked why, if they are the victims, too, weren't they even trying to cooperate with the attorneys, the city, etc? She hung up on me. Then, one day, the Texas Attorney General opened up an investigation on them--and we received a full refund in the mail. Well, it was actually $187--less than what I paid by $13, but I took that and shut up.

Would I go to the fair again? Yes, because up until that, I had a great time at the fair and at the game. Will I park there? NO! I will take the DART. Texas Towing is also still being investigated, the last I heard the Texas Department of License and Regulations was inspecting them for failure to cooperate.

Towing Utopia Dot Com says: Amanda, keep us informed of any new developments.

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