STOP — before you read further… note that despite the title of this Ping, I do not hate every person employed for every towing company in the country. Rather, out of the four experiences I’ve had with towing companies, three have been so miserable, they quickly soured me on the industry in the DC Metro area. Thanks… I just wanted to make that clear, as it seems the Towing Company Fan Club has converged on the Ping.
Yesterday, Paul voiced his opinions on quick lube service shops, so I figured today would be a good time to explain why I think that towing companies are the scum of the earth and their owners are minions of Satan.
At the townhouse complex I lived in, one towing company had an exclusive agreement with the management. Each night, they’d come through and tow illegally parked cars. Admittedly, this was a problem because of the lack of parking spaces for residents (on more than one occasion I had to park in an adjoining neighborhood and remove my parking sticker because there simply nowhere for me to park). But this particular towing company were what I’d label “parking Nazis.” They towed my girlfriend’s car because one of her tires was touching the white line on the parking space. Not parked over it, but merely touching it. Fortunately, the next morning, after we determined that her car was towed and not stolen, she managed to argue her way out of the unreal cost of $105 because they didn’t have any proof that her car was “illegally parked.”
This same towing company, a few months later, towed my car because the stickers on my license plate were nine days overdue. First of all, in Northern Virginia there are twice as many stickers required on various parts of your car as compared with New Jersey, so I had simply forgotten this needed to be done. But, you say, they had a right to tow me because my stickers were invalid, right? Wrong, almost. I called the city police and they said that if they were involved, they would never tow a car for that, they’d, at most, ticket it (and that would only be after a warning). However, they informed me, it was the right of the townhouse management to have my car towed for this if they wished. You want to know what the real icing on the cake was? They towed me on a Saturday night. On Sunday, the DMV was closed (where I had to go to get my updated stickers), so even if I had gone and gotten my car from the towing company, they would have just towed it again the next night. So, I had to keep my car there and pay another $10 or $15 for a “storage fee” and then pick it up on Monday, which made me late for work. My townhouse management was no help in the matter, either, basically refusing to even talk to me about the incident. That’s one contributing factor why we moved out six months later.
So, then, let’s add a new story to the pile. A week-and-a-half ago, on a Friday, I had driven into Arlington, VA (about 40 miles from my home) on business. After I was finished there, I got into my car at about 4:30pm and my car wouldn’t start. I wasn’t sure if I just needed a jump, or if I needed a tow, so I went inside and called Kia’s Roadside Assistance. Now, I won’t get into the fact that because I was a mere 2,000 miles over my warranty that I’d have to pay for the jump/tow, that’s another Ping. But what I will get into is this: the towing company, in this major city, took 3 1/2 hours to give me a friggin’ jump start. During those 3 1/2 hours, I went to the police station across the street to see if they could help me (“Nope, we don’t do that anymore” — thanks to all my pals at the Arlington Police for the help). It also started to pour buckets. I was informed by someone from the company that I was visiting that the towing company had called and that they said they were “on the way.” This was at about the 1 3/4 hour point, a full 30 minutes beyond the already outrageous estimate they had given me. At 2 1/2 hours, I called the towing company and they tried to tell me “Our guy was there, waiting for you!” I told him that he was full of crap because I had been there the whole time. He redispatched somebody and I was finally given a successful jump start at 8:30pm by the only towing company in Arlington that would take credit card payment. Thanks for the help, guys. And thanks for charging me $40. -ram
Posted in Consumer Commentary