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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Dismantling a royal scam

My state senator, Avel Gordly, is taking on the tow truck weasels who patrol parking lots. The people in this industry have proven themselves, by and large, to be first-class jerks. The City of Portland has been busting their chops a little, but as far as I'm concerned, the more regulation they have to deal with, the better.

Gordly has a pile of e-mails from constituents telling the usual horror stories, and she's announced a hearing on "predatory towing" before the Senate Commerce Committee next Wednesday at 3 p.m. down at the State Capitol. It should be fun, in a perverse sort of way, and let's hope something meaningful comes out of it.

Comments (5)

OK, I give. What's this got to do with Steely Dan? I may be obtuse, but that sure seems obscure.

...as do many things...

Just be careful where you park if you do attend the hearing. Most of the downtown Salem lots have some mean towing signs. I don't know if they operate like the targets of this legislation but you never know...

Cue: Steve Goodman's "Lincoln Park Pirates".

A few years back I had a couple of instances where my car was towed illegally and then the tow company broke the law when I tried to get my car back. I had lots of documentation, witnesses, a tow hearing that was a complete joke, and many many conversations with city auditor Gary Blackmer and city tow coordinator Marion Gaylord. (I’m nothing if not persistant)

In the first instance I had a tow hearing that lasted 51 seconds (Gary Blackmer actually listened to a recording of the hearing and confirmed it was only 51 seconds long). I had to pay to get my car back, even though Gary Blackmer agreed that the car was parked legally at the time it was towed. His reasoning was that because there is no official appeal process once a judgment was made, he could not refund my money because that would essentially be creating an appeal process. Marion Gaylord agreed that the tow company acted illegally, and sent them a letter requesting that they refund $35.00 of the $300 it took to get my car back. I spent at least 40 hours either on the phone speaking with someone, or on hold waiting to speak with someone. I also spent plenty of time collecting documentation and writing letters.

The second instance my car was towed from a local restaurant’s parking lot while I was having dinner inside the restaurant. I called the police and reported it stolen. When the police arrived, they watched as the tow company’s employee loaded up another car from the parking lot and towed it away. He had towed about 12 cars that night. Luckily for me, I had a pretty firm grasp on city towing ordinances from the first incident and knew my rights in this situation. I got my car back that night at no charge. When I called Marion Gaylord the next day, she sort of shrugged it off saying that there were so many tow companies in town and she was the only person to oversee their regulation – there are going to be problems. She also expressed serious concerns over being sued by a tow company.

The whole entire process is so maddening that most anyone would give up and just pay whatever the tow company decides to charge to get their car back. I would find being hit in the head with hammer a more pleasant and rewarding experience than going through the process again. What is even worse for me is knowing there are hundreds of other Portlanders out there with similar stories and outcomes.

I had my tow truck stolen feb 1st 07 from 6800 S.E. duke portland or and found out that the portland police won't do any investigation at all. i was abandoned and left to look for it my self the auto theft task force has been disbaned. now we can worry about a stolen tow truck grabbing cars. is that not scarry or what
Thanks portland

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