Friday, April 26, 2013

TDLR Complaints Against Bexar Towing Move Forward to Prosecute Repeat Violators

Towing company owners and tow truck drivers whom repeatedly harmed motorists over the years in Texas parking lots, are now being prosecuted by TDLR. 

Bexar Towing of San Antonio, Texas goes to court in Austin, Texas on June 18th, 19th and 20th, 2013 at 9:00am each morning, for overcharging vehicle owners $165 above a regulated rate of $85, not to mention, posting the required towing signs after towing several vehicles away.  TDLR wants $87,000 plus $10,000 in reimbursements to vehicle owners who filed complaints with TDLR.  (cases dating back to Aug 2011)

Motorists towed from private parking lots in San Antonio are encouraged to call the San Antonio Police Department to report an illegal tow, to ensure your rights weren't violated.

This investigation of Bexar Towing shows the extensive hours and manpower to communicating with illegal towing and overcharging victims, to which the public can be assured Bexar Towing owner John Deloach will be held accountable.

TDLR complaints are important, so file one here.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

UT-Austin Towing Contractor Found Guilty of Towing Without Authority To Do So

Seldom do people think about towing until it happens to them....The University of Texas at Austin's towing contractor, Park Right Solutions LLC was found guilty of illegal towing by the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation recently.  Park Right Solutions was fined $1000.

The towing of vehicles within the University of Texas parking lots are requested by the Parking & Transportation and the Police departments. Just last year UTPD would go the extra mile not to have to call Assured Towing, acquired by Park Right Solutions, due to unsavory experience with the onslaught of complaints.

Yet Assured Towing was bought out by Park Right Solutions LLC, Charlie Smith with UTA Parking Enforcement illegally transferred a nontransferable contract without following the rebidding process.

Maybe someone at the Daily Texan, the University of Texas at Austin college newspaper will get to bottom of this and find out who authorized entering into a contractual agreement without going through the required bidding process.

From the TDLR Final Orders database:

County: TRAVIS
Zip Code: 78744

License #: 6444043C

Complaint # TOW20110015825
Date: 1/15/2013

Respondent is assessed an administrative penalty in the amount of $1,000.
Respondent towed a vehicle from a parking facility without authority.

Something stinks here....

Saturday, April 13, 2013

#1 Consumer Complaint: Vehicle Damage

At a time when wrecker drivers are being trained on the proper techniques of towing vehicles, complaints regarding damage is on the increase from consumers.

The towing industry repeatedly advertises "damage free towing" and automatically denies their wrecker driver could have damaged a vehicle. Yes towing equipment has been modernized to tow a vehicle without damage, but the initial hookup to a vehicle, is when the majority of damages occurs.

The bulk of consumer complaints I have taken, happened when a vehicle is towed without the consent of the owner, otherwise known as private property impounds. Drivers get in a hurry and damage vehicles, then state the vehicle inventory the damage they caused, is prior damage. But tell that to a new vehicle owner who just bought the vehicle that was damaged and they will be be fuming.

Now, the hard part comes when consumers seek the insurance information on the towing company who may have damaged their vehicle. Towing companies are reluctant to furnish this information, so a claims adjuster can determine if the damage was indeed caused by the wrecker driver.

Therefore, I have suggested in writing to the TDLR that the insurance information, including the policy number with a valid phone number to file a damage claim, be included as a required document that must be provided upon request, when paying for a towing service.

It's issues as this, vehicle damage, refusing to provide insurance information and refusing to provide the name of the person who authorized the removal, that make consumers not trust the towing industry.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Risks of Living in Apartment or Rental Housing Manager and Towing Company Scamming Residents & Guest

Would you want to live in an apartment complex or rental housing if you discovered the property manager was getting a kickback, in the form of cash, gift cards, gambling trips to Las Vegas or free parking lot striping from the towing company that towed your or your visitor's vehicle during the middle of the night and forced to pay $200+ to get it released from the storage lot?

Property Management Companies, who are members of the Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Tarrant County and Texas Apartment Associations expect residents in their complexes to obey their rules, but, they turn around and accept kickbacks and bribes from towing companies.

Property managers can't say they don't know they couldn't accept kickbacks, because every office at an apartment complex keeps an updated version of the TAA Redbook, that explains the State Law regulations regarding the towing of vehicles.

One of the problems with some property managers, are they are weak when it comes to turning away a towing company salesman offering their services, signs, including striping, parking permits, letters to be given to their residents, and place orange warning stickers on vehicles all at a price they could not get from anyone else, free.

It never passes through a property manager or supervisor's mind that they chance going to jail if they sign a contract with a towing company, that includes all the above mentioned perks.

Towing company salesmen or account managers are taught to make the property manager feel they will not be responsible for any vehicle that gets towed and they will be held harmless, another bald face lie. But, we see many property managers belly up and accept bribes daily from towing companies.

Poor residents that are struggling financially to make ends meet, while their property manager is collecting not only a paycheck, but kickbacks from the towing company for each vehicle towed.

Me, personally, I think any property manager, should be allowed to authorize a towing company to patrol their parking lot and allow their drivers to use their discretion on which vehicle to impound. 

But in some instances, a vehicle will be impounded for barely touching the white/yellow parking stripe. 

On another instance, a wrecker driver will find a vehicle with the windows rolled down and remove the parking permit, them impound the vehicle. 

Still shocking illegal activity, is the wrecker driver taking a vehicle that is perfectly parked and move the vehicle in the fire lane, over the parking stripe, photograph it, then impound the vehicle, all because the property manager them gave authorization.

Now since taking photographs or video of a vehicle prior to towing to validate the reason for impoundment, wrecker drivers tend to use this photograph documentation to their benefit.

This type of criminal conduct must be reported, investigated and prosecuted by law enforcement.

Predatory J&J Towing Targets Low Income Apartments in Austin

Predatory, a term being used more often, to describe tow truck drivers and parking facility operators wreak havoc on their communities.

This past weekend, I received four call from individuals concerned they are and were being targeted by predatory towing companies based on their race and nationally.  This mindset of many towing company owners TODAY is never to release a vehicle for free once at their storage facility.

Two very specific calls involved towing companies in Austin, both claiming to proudly represent the Austin Apartment Association, handing perks, freebies, vacations, to property managers.

As shown in the above advertisement used by J&J Towing, they not only get away with towing your vehicle illegally, but if the apartment complex loses in Court for a bad tow, J&J Towing owners Frank Sapp and Tina Johnson pay all the legal fees and fines for the property manager.

But since so few motorists are unaware the property manager where they live, received a financial benefit from their towing company.

J&J Towing's latest towing scam, which many towing companies are being fined for, is the expired inspection/registration sticker scam.  This takes place as J&J Towing drivers place orange stickers on vehicles belonging to predominately minorities living in low income apartment complexes, wait a couple of days, then during the night, steal vehicles from their parking spaces rightfully parked.

Since so many people are taken advantage daily by tow truck drivers, it's a wonder more are not physically harmed.

A recent email from a concerned motorist who almost saw his vehicle taken during this ongoing towing scam by J&J Towing states:

"Hello, I am a resident of the Towne Oaks II apartments in Austin, Tx.  There has been a recent and very persistent attempt to illegally tow many vehicles from the lot, including my own.  I have spoken with the management and they say that the towing was not instigated by themselves, but by J&J towing.  Many of the residents have seen J&J park out on the street and wander the parking lot at night with flashlights looking for expired inspection and registration stickers.  If the management is aware and not calling these vehicles in, then there is a serious case of predatory towing going on here.  They sticker the windows, but official notice in the mail is never sent.  We need to act on this quickly as it seems they are specifically targeting low income areas, and many of the residents are not aware of the law"

It's important to note that J&J Towing is a member of the Austin Towing Association, who many of it's member companies all agree some their competitors like J&J Towing, Reliant, Prontos, Alberts Towing and A&A Wrecker give their industry a bad reputation and their chances of gaining a rate increase in Austin is fading by the day.

So, it's important remember, your vehicle cannot be towed from an apartment complex for an expired inspection/registration unless the registered owner receives a certified letter from the apartment complex, informing them to update their stickers or be towed after the 10th day of the postmark.

If this happened to you within the last two years, please file a complaint with the Austin Police Department, so that wrecker drivers, property managers and towing company owners can be held responsible before a Judge.

Pat Johnson, founder 
Texas Towing Compliance

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Texas Parking Protections Sold To Highest Bidder - Texas Motorists & Insurance Companies Get Screwed

The issue about where the tow hearing is to be heard by a Judge, as of now, the hearing is held in the precinct that the storage facility is located in.

One of the reasons it changed in the last session of the Legislature was because I was ill much of the session, unable to attend the meetings.

Now, this session being in full swing, I lobbied several members both in the house and senate, because these issues about illegal towing are a nonpartisan, I am sure that every member of the Legislature has heard about tragic event regarding towing in their district.

In the original writing of Rights to Stored Vehicle Owner written by myself in 1995, specially called for the Tow Hearing to be heard in the precinct where the parking facility is located.

The reason for this was to give residents, who are also voters, the right to have their Tow Hearing heard by a Justice of Peace they are given the opportunity to vote for or against. As it now, in the Dallas, Houston, Fort Worth, El Paso, Robstown, McAllen and even here in Austin, towing companies are towing vehicles to another city or different Justice of the Peace jurisdiction.

Its already been proven that several judges that hear towing case are recipients of big campaign contributors from the towing companies, making Tow Courts into money making machines for the towing company's general counsel and corrupt Judges.

Everyone is encouraged to email, call and write your Texas representatives and urge them to vote against House Bill 338 and return the text to this issue to the original engrossed version.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

TAA Property Managers Routinely Hire Tow Companies with Convicted Felon wrecker drivers

Property managers of apartment complexes routinely use a towing company that employs convicted felons, been fined thousands of dollars by TDLR for violating the law and in most cases deal with ongoing complaints from their residents.

While a property manager may refuse a prospective resident due to their criminal history, they welcome felons to cruise their parking lots at all hours of the day, especially at night.

The Texas Apartment Association doesn't even make their associate members obey their code of conduct reference accepting kickbacks from the tow company.

Statistics indicate that crime actually increases within apartment complex parking lots when convicts are patrolling in tow trucks, as they are more less likely to report criminal activity.

Common sense, property managers need to use a towing company that does not employ convicted felons, specifically registered sex offenders, but they do.

The tide is turning as more police departments are creating their own wrecker enforcement unit to investigate and arrest violators of the Texas Towing Law. 

Since more District Attorneys are seeing the only way to rein control over predatory towing is stiffer sentences for engaging in organized crime, holding both the property manager/owner, tow company owner/manager/drivers criminally responsible for defrauding the public.