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Friday, February 02, 2007

My Predatory Towing Horror Story--pt 1

I have read many dozens of towing horror stories over the past couple of weeks and I’ve also heard several Oregon citizens testify at the State Capitol. Truly horrifying horror stories, as Loaded Orygun put it.

But I bet I can stack my story up with the best of them:

First two predatory tows from my property: March 19, 2005:

On Saturday morning, March 19, 2005, I woke to find that both my Dodge Caravan and a 1977 Cadillac being stored on my property were missing.

Signs that had been posted in a neighboring apartment complex just two days before read “Permit Parking Only” and “Retriever Towing.”

There are two triplexes owned by Hacienda Community Development Corporation (CDC) sited behind my house on a flag lot, with a small parking lot for 7 cars. I have an easement to drive through that lot to get to my own property.

No one from Hacienda CDC, or any of its agents, had warned me—or any of the other neighbors—about a towing policy. And I don’t need a permit to park in my driveway.

I contacted Retriever Towing. They confirmed that they had taken both cars. The person at Retriever stated that Hacienda’s apartment manager had called them to complain and they had towed the cars.

This was a flat-out lie, as there was no possibility that Hacienda CDC’s off-site managers would have come over at 5:30 in the morning to complain about where I parked my car.

The Retriever Towing person gave me two options: Take a cab to get to their lot and pay Retriever nearly $ 400 to get the cars back, or wait until Monday if I wanted to talk to a manager.

She stated that release of the Cadillac would cost me $ 177.00 and the Dodge would cost another $ 222.00. She offered no explanation for the difference in the figures.

She had no interest in the fact that Retriever had in fact stolen the cars from my property.

She said that the Cadillac was at their NE 143rd and Sandy impound lot, but she didn’t know where the Dodge was.

I attempted to contact Hacienda CDC’s off-site managers, but they neither answered their phone nor responded to the emergency page number.

I actually didn’t hear back from them until the following Monday.

So I called the Portland Police.

An officer came out, looked at my plat, which confirmed that the property that the two cars had been towed from did indeed belong to me.

He drove to Retriever’s lot and tried to negotiate the release of the cars, but no dice. They were not going to let the cars go without getting paid in full.

Please note that it is your tax money that paid for about three hours of this officer’s time, a problem created entirely by Retriever Towing and by the apartment owners and managers.

I tracked down Bertha Ferran, the Board Chair of Hacienda CDC, on the phone and explained the situation to her. She was uninterested. She told me to either wait until Monday or call the police.

The woman is a real peach. Right now, she’s wearing out her welcome at the PDC.

It took until the middle of the afternoon to get the cars back. They had towed the Dodge clear across town to NW 15th and Quimby. It was never explained why they had taken my car so far away.

I drove the van home, making one stop on the way, and noticed that it was handling oddly. I parked it in the same spot it had been towed from, right next to the Cadillac.

When I compared the two Retriever Towing invoices, I noticed that they were completely different forms, with different line items and different charges.

The invoice for the Dodge read:

$ 110.00 Tow
16.00 Miles (4 @ $4.00)
35.00 Dolly
33.00 Storage Fee @ $ 33.00 per day
3.00 Fuel
10.00 Photo Fee
15.00 Dispatch Fee
$ 222.00 Total charges

The invoice for the Cadillac read:

$ 160.00 Towing Fee
12.00 City Data Services Fee
5.00 City Service Fee
0.00 Storage Fee @ $ 20.00 per day
$ 177.00 Total charges

No explanation was provided for the differences in charges between two vehicles towed from the same location at the same time by the same company, nor for fees that appear on one invoice but not on the other, or why even the daily storage fees were different.

I will tell the story of the invoices later, in Part Two. If you’ve ever been towed, you’ll be madder than hell.

My Dodge Caravan was probably the most reliable vehicle I’ve ever owned. I drove the office carpool in my van through the 2003 legislative session and was doing the same in 2005, until this towing incident occurred. With the Dodge transmission acting funny, we switched to Denyse Peterson’s car for the daily commute to Salem.

Later in the week, I took the van to AAMCO and paid $ 50 for a transmission check, which revealed that the transmission would have to be replaced and that the cost would be $ 1,200 to $ 2,000.

The transmission worked just fine before it was towed out of my driveway.

All of the parties to the patrol towing contract, Retriever, Hacienda, and Hacienda’s apartment management refused to take responsibility for either the towing or the damage, and they continue to do so to this day.

Retriever blamed the managers. The managers blamed Retriever. Hacienda’s staff said they didn’t know anything about the patrol contract, which was patently absurd.

Retriever, after all, was contracted to patrol all of Hacienda’s apartment properties, including the lots where their offices were located and where their Board of Directors met.

Third Predatory Tow from my property: March 21, 2005. As I was arriving for work in Salem two days later, I learned that Retriever Towing had trespassed on my property again, right after I left my house, and towed the Cadillac away once more.

The Cadillac invoice for March 19 stated:

$ 160.00 Towing Fee
12.00 City Data Services Fee
5.00 City Service Fee
0.00 Storage Fee @ $ 20.00 per day
$ 177.00 Total charges

The Cadillac didn’t belong to me, and with my transmission broken I had to rent a car.

Fourth Predatory Tow:

Believe it! Retriever Towing took my rental, too. And that’s not the end of it, either.

They went after the tenants of the triplexes like weasels on mice. You would never think that you could fit so many tow truck into a lot that small at the same time, or why you would need to….

Read about it and more in: My Predatory Towing Horror Story—pt 2, coming to Blogoliticalsean soon.


Anonymous said...

That would be hard to beat.

Anonymous said...

Retreiver and its Parent company Speeds Supertow and predators of the poor.

Anonymous said...

first of all Speeds Supertow is a seperate company, the owner of Retriever is a half owner in speeds Supertow, as for the two invoices, one appears to have been put on a ppi or private property impound outside the city limits of portland and thus not regulated in the charges, the one with city data services and what not is on a city of portland invoice and thus the city of portland regulates the rates inside the city of portland

Anonymous said...

Let them charge it on your card. Then charge it back. If they bitch about taking you to court then say "Go ahead and make my day.", and hang up.

I guarantee you they'll do nothing as what they do 99% of the time is illegal towing.

Also if they ever try to tow your car call the police immediately and bring them down to the facility your at, if you couldn't stop the tower before he takes it. The police will be more than willing to assist you over them. Especially when you mention the fact that TO TOW ANYONES VEHICLE YOU NEED THE SIGNATURE OF THE OWNER OF THAT PRIVATE PROPERTY OR BUSINESS.

They have collected countless amounts of cars illegally this way, and I'm currently looking forward to a class action lawsuit if one should pass my way.

Good luck, Howard L.

Anonymous said...

I would also question the need to replace the transmission. This tow left you going to another predatory company that rips people off. AMCO dismantled my transmission to the point it needed to be rebuilt "in order to diagnose" it w/out authorization to do so.