Improperly towed vehicle & Possible redress

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Latest post 08-09-2013 2:11 AM by Buffalony. 14 replies.
  • 02-05-2013 8:18 PM

    Improperly towed vehicle & Possible redress

    Here's the situation, tell me what you think.

    I went to a local fast food restaurant for lunch. The parking lot had the appropriate signage stating that parking was for restaurant patrons only. I was a restaurant patron, eating my lunch, when an agent of the towing company on the signage approached me at my lunch table. He asked, "Sir, what car are you driving?" Not knowing the man, I replied, "I don't have to tell you that; why do you ask?" He said he was towing vehicles of non-restaurant patrons. I said, "well I'm obviously a restaurant patron, so don't tow my vehicle, but I don't have to tell you what vehicle I am driving."

    I wasn't sitting within eyesight of my vehicle, and I didn't switch tables to be within eyesight. But my vehicle was gone, towed, when I got up to leave. I called the tow company listed on the sign and told them to return my vehicle, that I was a patron of the restaurant when it was towed. They returned it within an hour, but they made me late for my next appointment and furious nonetheless. I called the police and filed a report about a wrongfully towed vehicle.

    I'm aware that this could've been avoided had I told the tow company's employee which vehicle was mine. But I don't believe the company should have the authority to come into a restaurant and question every patron, then tow the remaining vehicles in the parking lot not identified by the patrons. Maybe I should ask the restaurant what authority they give the tow company in their contract (the right to question dine-in patrons)? Are tow companies typically given carte blanche authority to tow any vehicle, or does the parking lot owner have to request a particular vehicle be towed? If they aren't given carte blanche authority to tow, are they required to witness a parking violation prior to towing a vehicle, or can they assume a vehicle is improperly parked? Either way, it's a principle issue. I realize it isn't theft, since my property was returned. But does anyone know if, in Louisiana (Baton Rouge), there any redress for improperly impounded vehicles taken from private property?

    Just wondering if this situation is a matter of poor business practice or did any obvious legal infractions occur? I know I made a stupid, hardheaded offense by not telling him which vehicle I drove. I'll avoid doing that in the future.

     

  • 02-05-2013 8:41 PM In reply to

    Re: Improperly towed vehicle & Possible redress

    They were nice enough to come in and politely ask you which car you were driving so they wouldn't take the wrong one.  It is neither bad practice or illegal...its called common courtesy.

  • 02-05-2013 8:51 PM In reply to

    Re: Improperly towed vehicle & Possible redress

    Hypothetically, had I been in the restroom? What then, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to answer assuming he couldn't or didn't question patrons in the restroom. I didn't see him go in there.

  • 02-05-2013 9:01 PM In reply to

    Re: Improperly towed vehicle & Possible redress

    Hypothetical questions are useless and irrelevant.

    You blew it with your attitude and have nobody but yourself to blame for the inconvenience.

     

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • 02-05-2013 9:07 PM In reply to

    Re: Improperly towed vehicle & Possible redress

    Hypothetically, what if the tow truck driver asked the manager whether there was anyone in the restroom and then waited until you were done to ask you? 

    Still not illegal.

    The law recognizes that people have an obligation to mitigate their damages.  What exactly did you do you to mitigate your damages in this situation?  You knew you had to be somewhere after lunch, and all you needed to say was that your car was the [fill in the blank].  You chose not to. 

  • 02-05-2013 9:13 PM In reply to

    Re: Improperly towed vehicle & Possible redress

    MistaSwift:
    "Sir, what car are you driving?"

    So he approached you and made a polite inquiry to determine which car that was legally parked was yours.

    MistaSwift:
    He said he was towing vehicles of non-restaurant patrons.

    Then he politely explained the purpose of his question when you asked why.

    MistaSwift:
    "well I'm obviously a restaurant patron, so don't tow my vehicle  

    Then you decided to be obnoxious AND expected him to be psychic and know which car was yours..

    MistaSwift:
    I don't have to tell you what vehicle I am driving."

    You do if you don't want your car towed.  How hard would it have been to simply say "the lemon yellow 76 Ford Pinto with the rusted bumper is mine" instead of being a collosal JERK?

    MistaSwift:
    my vehicle was gone, towed,

    No big surprise there.

    MistaSwift:
    they made me late for my next appointment

    Nope, your decision to not identify your vehicle made you late.  No one else.

    MistaSwift:
    Are tow companies typically given carte blanche authority to tow any vehicle, or does the parking lot owner have to request a particular vehicle be towed?

    Depends on the contract with the property owner. 

    MistaSwift:
    Just wondering if this situation is a matter of poor business practice or did any obvious legal infractions occur?

    Based on what you posted: neither. When you park on private property (which even a public business can be) then you do so by their rules. The tow truck driver gave you the courtesy of asking before towing and you chose not to answer.  Once you made your "hard headed" decision the consequences rested entirely with you.  

    "That's just my opinion, then again I might be wrong."  Dennis Miller

     

  • 02-05-2013 10:22 PM In reply to

    Re: Improperly towed vehicle & Possible redress

    I appreciate the answers. Thank you all for clarifying things from a legal perspective.

    I wasn't a jerk to the tow company gentleman. I abided by the rules of the property owner. I parked in their lot, purchased their product, ate in their establishment, and threw away my trash upon leaving. When I parked in view of the sign, I consented to being towed "if" I broke their rules. I don't expect them to be psychic, or to be able to deduce the improperly parked vehicles based on restaurant patrons/cars in the patron lot ratio.

    I guess the business practice issue is a matter of opinion. I wouldn't want patrons of my business to have to bother with answering a question of that nature. The tow company has a contract to tow improperly parked vehicles. At the time, it seemed to me that the tow contractor was "phishing" to tow a vehicle, that's the reason I refused to answer. I was one of three restaurant patrons, and 2-3 of the restaurant's 15 parking spaces were full. Later, the manager of the restaurant told me they didn't call and report an imporperly parked vehicle during the lunch hour.

    It might've been a boneheaded thing to do, but I refused to answer because I knew I wasn't violating the property owner's rules. If he led with, "sir, do you drive the lemon yellow 76 Ford Pinto with the rusted bumper," I might've said yes. But I was skeptical when he asked what type of car I drove. I realized at that point that he didn't see me break any rules, but his line of questioning suggested I, or someone else, may be breaking the rules; and he was going to figure out who by way of elimination. He could've waited until the parking lot was 25-50% full before towing anyone, or just waited 5-10 minutes and I would've finished my meal and left...thereby witnessing which car was mine.

    I'm probably most upset that my hunch turned out to be true. Maybe it became a self-fulfilling hunch when I refused to answer his question. Guess I was hoping someone would see it from my perspective and think it was at least a little inappropriate. Prior to this I've never been towed for following the rules, especially in a nearly empty parking.

    Goodnight all, once again, I appreciate your replies.

    -The Jerk

     

  • 02-05-2013 10:49 PM In reply to

    Re: Improperly towed vehicle & Possible redress

    MistaSwift:
    I don't expect them to be psychic, or to be able to deduce the improperly parked vehicles based on restaurant patrons/cars in the patron lot ratio.

    That's exactly the point.

    Regardless of the motives, the tow truck driver doesn't know that the lemon yellow 76 Ford Pinto with the rusted bumper belongs to a restaurant customer unless that restaurant customer says so.

    Capeesh?

    MistaSwift:
    I was hoping someone would see it from my perspective

    Nope.

    Nobody on this forum is likely to see it your way.

    We've read many posts written by people who have displayed little or no common sense but you take the cake.

     

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • 02-06-2013 2:51 AM In reply to

    Re: Improperly towed vehicle & Possible redress

    MistaSwift:
    Just wondering if this situation is a matter of poor business practice or did any obvious legal infractions occur?

    He towed a car of a patron. In that sense, the tow was wrongful. However, under these facts, the tow operator was not negligent in towing the vehicle as he made reasonable efforts to determine which cars in the lot were owned by patrons of the restaurant and, moreover, you easily could have avoided the tow simply by telling the guy which car was yours. It would have taken you all of a few seconds to do that. Thus, I see nothing for you to win in any lawsuit here. Indeed, I think you can tell from the reactions of the others who have posted about how well a court would take your lawsuit if you filed one. The judge or jury would likely feel much the same way as the folks who have posted do. I believe filing a lawsuit here would be a waste of your time and money.

    You are entitled to believe that it's a "poor business practice" if you wish. However, I don't share that opinion and don't see what the big deal was with the tow operator simply asking a very brief question. What principle do you think was at stake here? I'm struggling to identify what principle you were defending when refusing to answer the tow operator's question.

  • 02-06-2013 7:51 AM In reply to

    Re: Improperly towed vehicle & Possible redress

    It does seem to me you could have saved yourself alot of hassle by saying "it's the black acura" or whatever it was you were driving.

    Why try to swim upstream for no reason at all?

    You got your car back.  OK, you were made late.  But you also kind of brought that on yourself.

    The guy was just attempting to do his job.  I agree, that would annoy me also if I were eating my burger or whatever, and have to spit out which car was mine.  But, I don't really know the situation.  It sounds like there is a parking issue wherever this is.  And they are attempting to fix that situation.

    Overall, there are large problems in life to concern yourself with.  You have your car back.  Next time, just tell the guy what car you are driving.  You might even get to know the guy if you go to that fast food place enough times.  It's usually easier to make friends with people like that, than to fight with them.

    Good luck!

     

  • 02-06-2013 8:07 AM In reply to

    • Drew
      Consumer
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on 03-30-2000
    • PA
    • Posts 48,930

    Re: Improperly towed vehicle & Possible redress

    Personally I think your position is so off the wall that if the towing company were to advance any plausable legal point as to you owe them the fee both ways for a tow I'd be inclined to see it the tow company's way ---and  to see it the tow company's way would be a first for me....



  • 02-06-2013 9:00 AM In reply to

    Re: Improperly towed vehicle & Possible redress

    Thanks superman1. Overall there are larger problems I should concern myself with. I agree, I've made a mountain out of a molehill.

    Drew, I consented to abide by their parking rules when I parked there. I didn't consent to being asked to identify my vehicle in the middle of my meal. It's fast food, the parking lot was maybe 10% full. He towed the vehicle of a rule/law abiding patron that freely chose to withhold an answer (which wasn't against the rules). My consequence, I had my vehicle towed. The only "off the wall" position here is your idea that law abiding citizens should somehow be financially penalized for freely withholding an answer. He wasn't an agent of the law or an employee of the restaurant.

    I am a regular customer of the establishment, because one of my insurance clients works there. And in general, I'm a terribly friendly, law abiding, and helpful person. If I were to guess, I bet the business owner isn't aware that his patrons are being encountered with, "what vehicle are you driving," while dining in the restaurant (no matter how politely they were asked).

    Once again, thank you for all the replies. That was a good and lively discussion about a trivial event.

     

  • 02-06-2013 9:14 AM In reply to

    Re: Improperly towed vehicle & Possible redress

    You know, if it were me, and I went to this place all the time, I'd probably talk to the owner.

    He might actually care if it's upsetting to you.  He might not, but it wouldn't hurt to get to know the guy.

    Once you get to know people, sometimes it does get easier.  The owner probably does have a parking issue.  But if you get to know him, he's going to say oh, that's "MistaSwift's car" don't tow him, he's a regular.

    I would be upset also if my car got towed.  But you kind of did everything but ask for it.

    I don't see any legal action you should take.  My advice, get to know the tow truck guy and be nice with him.  Get to to know the owner, and be nice to him also.

    Once you do that, I think your problems will be over.

     

  • 02-06-2013 12:37 PM In reply to

    Re: Improperly towed vehicle & Possible redress

    You were incredibly difficult in this situation and caused most of this yourself. The tow company attempted to find out which car was yours. You did not cooperate. Before you make a situation far more diffucult then it needs to be then determine if it is worth it.

  • 08-09-2013 2:11 AM In reply to

    • Buffalony
      Consumer
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on 08-09-2013
    • NY
    • Posts 3

    Re: Improperly towed vehicle & Possible redress

    I'll tell you what I think. I think most of the folks here aren't realizing that you could possibly be victim of predatory towing or poor buisness decisions. One member mentioned that you should speak with the owner of the establishment and I can agree with them on that to an extent, but most of the comments I've read here were based on personal opinions formed from your initial response to the tow truck driver. Your initial response was valid.

    Generally in the case of parking for patrons only the owner or a ranking employee would notify a tow company of an unauthorized vehicle on the premise after witnessing the owner exit said vehicle and not enter the establishment. If however the case is that the restaurant owner hired or allowed a tow truck driver to monitor the lot for unpatronized parking, then it would be the tow truck drivers responsibility to witness such violations. If the tow truck driver is allowed to disturb patrons on the establishment then this is poor buisness practice and maybe the owner should be informed by his source of income. It is even worse in my opinion if the tow driver isn't on the premise at all times, but makes an effort to come in and ask all patrons which vehicle is their or he has no relation to the owner and this is simply predation. Another wild possibility is that there is local ordinance that allows hired tow drivers to enter establishments and question patrons to enforce a shared parking lot related to multiple establishments.

    Your response was valid because this is an unusual activity. In fact, it is somewhat profound...Your sitting down eating and someone asks you which vehicle is yours!!! Personally, I would be concerned that this person may be a potential threat after I leave the premise. This is a very unorthodox encounter.

    Next time (hopefully there isn't one!) just ask him why. Then ask him if it is his job to bother patrons of the establishment.

    Conversation with the owner should first clarify what business agreement he has with the towing company. Then work from there expressing what an unusual nuisance it is. It is possible the owner has a reasonable excuse that you may be able to sympathize with. In this case your next encounter with towing will be more pleasant because you understand his reasoning.

    Anyways, I hope the food is worth it and good luck to you.

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