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Monday, April 30, 2012

City of San Marcos to Revise Towing Ordinance to Eliminate Illegal Showup Fee

Good news to pocketbooks of motorists whom park within private parking lots anywhere in San Marcos.

This morning, I was told by Chief Howard Williams, the San Marcos Police Department's current wrecker ordinance allows a wrecker driver to charge a $40 show up fee, even when the vehicle is not fully prepared to transport.

This has practice has been stopped effective today, after several conversations I had with SMPD that this type of charge is not allowed by State Law. Furthermore, any wrecker driver who thinks they can violate State Law knowing darn well this type of show-up fee is not allowed.

Chief Williams told me earlier, his department is sending a letter to all of the towing companies  who tow private property impounds in San Marcos, this charge is no longer authorized.

Any motorist who has been charged a $40 show-up fee by a tow truck driver without towing your vehicle or being fully prepared to transport down the roadway, (watch video to better understand) YOU are urged to file a complaint with the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulations, against the towing company and tow truck operator.

This Austin drop fee scam video is the model used statewide to determine when motorists have been charged an unauthorized fee, when questioned by investigators.

Kudos to San Marcos PD for bringing this illegal practice to a halt!


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

FedEx Kinko's and Albert's Towing Unscrupulous Business Practices Targets Consumers in Austin, Texas

This past Monday, I received a request from another drop fee scam victim, this time, FedEx Kinko's management engaged in criminal conduct along with Thomas Mora, the owner of several local towing companies, many times over. The Texas Department of Licensing & Regulations is failing Texas motorists and our economy, by allowing individuals like Mora to remain in business..

The following is the latest correspondence with the victim I was copied, after the initial call to my illegal towing hotline number 512-680-3190:

My name is William Merchad and I am currently a second-year Masters in Business (MBA) student at the University of Texas here in Austin. I found your name and email address online at the website: Texas Towing Compliance.com

I would like to report that I was the victim of an illegal towing by Thomas Mora, the owner of Albert's Towing & Recovery, this past Friday night, April 20, 2012. Mr. Mora was still loading my car at the Kinko's Parking lot on Guadalupe Street. I ran up to him and told him that I was moving the car, and NOT to tow it...he was still securing the vehicle an did NOT yet have the red tow lights on the top of my car. He quickly placed them on top (again, this was AFTER I was already talking to him and told him to stop). He told me it was "too late."

After many more minutes of pleading he insisted on towing car barely out of the parking lot (as I literally ran after him on Guadalupe Street to make sure he would not take off with my car!). He pulled over next to Torchy's Tacos on Guadalupe and demanded I pay him $150. I was stunned. He told me I needed to go get the money or pay via credit card. He kept saying angrily, "I have to go...I am leaving...I am losing money (No doubt, I was preventing him from towing other vehicles!) Reluctantly, and not knowing any better, I eventually gave him a debit card and he charged me $150 before releasing my car. I was afraid that if he towed my car to his facility he might charge me even more money....not to mention the hassle of having to get a ride/taxi to go retrieve my car.

I would also like to point out that my fellow classmate and MBA student, Stefan Marinov (copied on this email), witnessed this entire episode and can confirm all of my comments. He too was pleading with Mr. Mora to release the car both before and after he towed it to Torchy's Tacos.

I felt that Mr. Thomas Mora's actions "smelled fishy" to me (why did he insist on moving my car only a few hundred feet only to THEN demand I pay him $150?) He was very insistent and rushed in wanting to move my car out of the Kinko's Parking lot. But, now I see why: after doing an internet search this evening, I found the website: Texas Towing Compliance.com and discovered that Albert's Towing had, indeed, towed me illegally. Furthermore, it appears that Albert's Towing has had a long history of towing people illegally:



I do realize that Kinko's parking lot is a private parking lot and I made a mistake parking there. I accept responsibility for my actions. However, the MOST I should be responsible for paying is $50, according to Texas Towing Complaince.com. More important than the money: I feel Mr. Mora is a thief and he extortionist. I told him that he, "had no mercy and that God would punish him...life would take care of him..." to which he responded that it has: he is a "millionaire." Unfortunately, I did not know any better until after I read the website. I should have sat in the car and called the police.

Attached to this email are two documents: 1) is a scanned copy of the online complaint form I just filed at: license.state.tx.us\complaints (Tracking #0037683) and 2) a scanned copy of the receipt from Albert's Towing. I called Austin 311 (512-974-5000), but there was a very long wait and the connection was bad. I hope this email will suffice.

Feel free to give me a call if you would like to discuss this matter further and see what, if anything, I can do about it now. Both my classmate, Stefan, and I are willing to file a police report if this will help you bring Mr. Mora to justice. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Will Merchad

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In alot of cities across Texas. motorists are burned daily by dishonest towing companies, while law enforcement in these areas take a backseat claiming it's civil matter. Austin like some cities have city ordinance to protect motorists from scams exactly as occurred at FedEx Kinko's in Austin near the University of Texas campus.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

TDLR Allows penalized companies to operate without paying fine

Sadly, Texas Governor Rick Perry and Lt Governor David Dewhurst are to blame for widespread criminal activity motorists/businesses experience daily at the hands of their appointees at TDLR.

If TDLR commissioners won't revoke licenses of companies that won't pay their fines (which I presume applies to Merlin Transport / Excalibur Towing because there's no evidence online or elsewhere that they're paying after the $21,700 default judgment was issued against them) should taxpayers have to keep subsidizing TDLR to make up for the revenue difference to the state?

If TDLR fines are mere "suggestions" then where's the actual "service" for Texans who subsidize TDLR?

I suspect TDLR General Counsel will beg the Attorney General's Office to help them crack down on these renegade companies, and meanwhile TDLR will also strengthen its ability to delicense companies. Otherwise, payments will decline considerably...as will respect for TDLR.

How does that help anyone, but those drawing a salary at TDLR?

Legitimate towing company owners and drivers should be concerned because your Advisory Board does not represent your interests on the state level, when fines mean nothing to predatory companies who wreak havoc on the lives in the communities they operate in.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Several Austin area towing companies scam hundreds of motorists


Several Austin based towing company owners and their drivers intentionally scammed hundreds of motorists over the years, especially on weekend nights who parked on East 5th Street, east of Interstate 35. Nobody in their right mind would think their vehicle would be towed for parking on the side of a street street, but as history shows, most upset motorists don't know the laws the towing companies have to follow. Even a test question ask if the towing from a public right of way is legal.

According to Lee Austin, with the City of Austin Transportation Department; this section of East 5th Street vehicles are being towed is city right of way reserved for the Satillo Station Plaza master plan. According to Lee Austin, the city wants drivers to park in these areas, not be towed.

During SXSW, a black tow truck bearing the name Steel Towing (since changed company ownership) was observed towing vehicles parked in the street on East 5th behind barricades, near Waller Street. An unidentified APD officer manned the barricade and stopped traffic so the Steel driver could tow the vehicle away, unaware the vehicle is being towed without authorization (stolen).


During the Texas Relays weekend, Albert's towed every vehicle parked in the 1300 block of East 5th street adjacent to TOPS, a used office furniture supplier, every vehicle towed was stolen, as the City of Austin, per Lee Austin never gave anybody other than APD the right to have vehicles towed from the right of way. APD says they didn't tow any vehicles in this area.

APD has the list of vehicles towed from the East 5th Street area, but due to budget constraints, will not pursue an investigation, which includes notifying the vehicle owners to interview them about rather they gave the towing company permission to tow their vehicle, then file the criminal charge, as in the case involving Central Towing owner Donald Creamer. This type of investigation would require several hundred hours of research, it can be accomplished, but someone within city government is being pressured to leave it alone.

In my opinion, there is major difference between the SXSW 2009 Towing Scam versus the East 5th Towing Scam, the shear number of victims who have no idea they were taken advantage of.

Only until consumers take advantage of their rights afforded them when scammed by a towing company, will wrecker drivers think twice about stealing your vehicle for financial gain.


video

For the record, the intent of this article is to bring attention to criminal illegal towing in Austin, Texas.