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#4680698 - 02/28/18 03:01 PM Opinions: Do I have any recourse?(Tow)
bunnspecial Online   content

Registered: 11/23/15
Posts: 784
Loc: US
I was recently towed at work.

First of all, here's the full story on it. A few weeks ago, I was able to get a "reserved" parking pass. We have certain lots where-subject to availability(I had to wait 6 months) you are able to get an assigned parking space. This is not an inexpensive option-the annual rate is nearly double that for "standard" faculty and staff parking. Our parking permits are in the form of rear view mirror hang tags, and in the case of reserved passes the last 3 digits of the number on the tag indicate the space number for your reserved space.

As per published policy, parking tags are assigned to an individual, not a vehicle, and may be freely transferred between any vehicle which the permit holder is driving to work. We are not required to register or report what vehicle we are driving, although my MKZ and MG(the two main cars I drive) are on file with parking. This is completely voluntary, however-in fact the MG is only there due to a parking officer not seeing my parking pass and ticketing me for "failure to display."

In any case, I looked out one day last week and saw my MG being loaded on a flatbed from my assigned, reserved spot. I went running and it and was able to stop the tow after pointing out very plainly that I was displaying the permit for that assigned spot and further(after the parking officer on scene looked it up) I was in fact the rightful "renter" of that spot. It seems as though someone had pulled into the lot, THOUGHT I was parked in theirs, saw a car they didn't recognize, and called it in. Normally that would be the end of the story since they loaded they just unloaded my car and went on.

This goes a bit deeper, though. I wouldn't expect a tow truck driver to know this, but on MGBs the rear brake line runs on top of the rear axle. Of course, running a strap over the rear axle at least on a live axle car is standard procedure for tie-down on a flatbed. You can't do it on an MG, though, as it will crush the rear brake line. If I had a roadside tow, I'd point this out, but of course I didn't have the option here.

Immediately after the car was back on the ground, I looked and pointed out to the parking officer and driver that they'd damaged the brake line. I got a half-hearted "sorry" but then the officer clammed up when I said that I'd be filing a complaint for parking to replace it.

I did limp the car home, but of course I won't drive it. Realistically it still stops fine albeit with a pull since the left rear cylinder has the fluid flow to it restricted.

I have the line here and am going to change it myself, but I'd like to at least be reimbursed for the cost of it since this was clearly a mistake and-in my view-parking being over-eager to slap someone with a big fine since they yanked my car onto the truck without even bothering to check the permit.

They claim no responsibility, however, and say I should go after the tow company. The tow company says they're not responsible since they were acting on "university orders." Before I escalate this through the university chain of command, can anyone advise me on whether or not I should just drop the whole thing or if it's worth pursuing? The line was $75, and realistically I'd pay $200 if I had to pay someone to fit it.
2010 Lincoln MKZ-Mobil 1 5W-30
1970 MG MGB Roadster-Valvoline VR-1 20W-50

#4680706 - 02/28/18 03:08 PM Re: Opinions: Do I have any recourse?(Tow) [Re: bunnspecial]
dlundblad Online   happy

Registered: 09/30/13
Posts: 10212
Loc: Indiana
I'd go after the tow truck driver/ company. Lots of vehicles with solid axles have the brake lines running on the top of the tube. It's their job to make certain however the hook on won't cause any damage.

You work with some rather uptight folks if they have nothing better to do than look for parking violations.
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#4680710 - 02/28/18 03:11 PM Re: Opinions: Do I have any recourse?(Tow) [Re: bunnspecial]
paulri Online   content

Registered: 08/14/15
Posts: 772
Loc: CA, USA
If there is a union on campus, even if you are not a member, I would give them a quick version of the above and ask a rep if there is anything they can do to help you, or if not, if there is any advice they have for what to do. I have no idea what legal liabilities the towing companies have for vehicles they have been asked (by someone) to tow.
2005 Toyota Sienna LE; 148,000 miles
1998 Honda Civic DX; 197,000 miles

#4680717 - 02/28/18 03:16 PM Re: Opinions: Do I have any recourse?(Tow) [Re: bunnspecial]
Chewie Offline

Registered: 10/08/15
Posts: 228
Loc: OH
I'd go after them if I could. Sounds like the university is at fault, at least as long as they're the ones in charge of parking and not a third-party company. You might run into problems since it's now after the fact. Since they may ask you to "prove" that the line was in fact damaged by the tow truck and not damaged before or after. Ideally I would have escalated the situation to the higher-ups on the day of the incident. Do you know the names of the tow driver and the incompetent parking officer? There's a 99% chance they didn't write an incident report detailing what happened since you didn't press the matter initially.
2002 Lexus GS300 | 2JZ-GE | M1 HM 10W-40 | XG3600

#4680720 - 02/28/18 03:18 PM Re: Opinions: Do I have any recourse?(Tow) [Re: bunnspecial]
gathermewool Offline

Registered: 01/09/09
Posts: 6064
I'd go after someone, but it may not be worth it. For more extensive damage, a call to your insurance company might help, but it sounds like that might not be worth the hassle if you can repair the line yourself for around a buck.

How obvious is your tag? It seems like it might not be as plainly visible as you think, since it was missed before, right? Either that, or you pulled in to your spot front-first and the parking attendant was too lazy to walk around to the front, couldn't see it through the rear window and called it in.

I would definitely elevate this. It might never happen again, but if you make a stink about it they may remember you and leave you be...or pee in your tank, who knows!


Have you thought about putting your tag information on a very-visible sign that you can leave in the rear or on an outward-facing window to allow lazy passersby know who is parked there?

Where I work they've recently gotten stricter with parking. They used to give out seemingly unlimited "nasty grams" (i.e., a note on your windshield threatening to tow), but rarely was anyone towed. Now that parking is a premium and people who have stickers are probably complaining, towing is a nearly daily occurance.

We don't register our vehicles - we simply get one sticker - so that makes it awkward when you swap cars, say, with your spouse for some reason. The accepted method to prevent a tow has been to put your sticker information, department number and contact number on a sheet of paper and put in on your dash. I've done this a dozen times and never had a problem, so it seems to be OK. I don't know if they actually look up our information - I've never once been called about it - so it could be that more people could put up fake numbers and park there indefinitely without getting caught.

#4680721 - 02/28/18 03:20 PM Re: Opinions: Do I have any recourse?(Tow) [Re: bunnspecial]
bubbatime Offline

Registered: 03/18/08
Posts: 5723
Loc: South Florida
Get a quote for the repair from a shop. Bring the quote to the owner of the tow company. Demand that they pay the entire quote, or file a claim with their insurance. If its $200, I imagine that they would rather pay out of pocket, then file a claim. If they balk, then write a very simple letter of intent to file suit in small claims, demanding payment. If they balk, then file a small claim, and request any and everything you can. Lost time off work, plus repair, plus court cost, plus whatever else you can add.

Basically, call the tow company owner and have a conversation with them. be polite, don't use profanity, and don't get angry. Just ask for simple reimbursement for the repair.

Document everything you do, for future court. Time you called, who you spoke to, what was said. When you sent a letter, with the return receipt. Etc.

Its very easy to file a small claim. I'm a man of principle, and I would do it over a lost $1. Your mileage may vary. Whats right is right, whats wrong is wrong. I hate being wronged.
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#4680737 - 02/28/18 03:39 PM Re: Opinions: Do I have any recourse?(Tow) [Re: bunnspecial]
bunnspecial Online   content

Registered: 11/23/15
Posts: 784
Loc: US
Thanks guys. I agree that regardless of the reason for the tow, the company has a responsibility to not damage the vehicle. After all, even if it was illegally parked(which again it wasn't) they can only move it-not damage it.

As for looking for violations-parking here is viscious and yes they do go looking for violations. Like most public universities these days we are hurting for money, but parking is a cash cow and generates about 2 million dollars in surplus each year.

We do have a grievance procedure in place through the staff senate, and I can take that route if I don't get anywhere else. I just wanted to make sure mostly that I had cause to be upset.

BTW, to make my case-I'm guessing that I should have my MG mechanic look at it and note both the damage and cost to repair(I do have photographs of the strap over the axle and of it immediately after being removed from the truck). That would seem to be a good start for my case.

Also-on tag visibility-they hang from the rear view mirror and that's where it was. I would expect the officer to look there, and don't know how I can make it more visible. The previous incident was with a parking sticker, which I had on the MG when I didn't have a top on the car and the officer just didn't look closely enough. Also, I was in fact backed into the spot so the tag was plainly visible from the row.

Edited by bunnspecial (02/28/18 03:43 PM)
2010 Lincoln MKZ-Mobil 1 5W-30
1970 MG MGB Roadster-Valvoline VR-1 20W-50

#4680782 - 02/28/18 04:27 PM Re: Opinions: Do I have any recourse?(Tow) [Re: bunnspecial]
fdcg27 Online   content

Registered: 09/25/09
Posts: 15843
Loc: OH
Of course you have recourse.
Your car was damaged due to both the negligence of the uni's meter maid as well as inappropriate securing of your car by the tow operator.
I'd personally make formal requests for reimbursement to both, since the university is liable for having had your car picked up without cause and the tow operator is negligent for having failed to exercise due care in securing your vehicle.
The university obviously has far deeper pockets, but I'll bet that the tow operator finds this to be a very lucrative source of revenue as well.
Yes, you should be compensated but you'll get nothing posting here.
State your claim for monetary damages in writing to both the tow operator and whatever office of the university controls parking complete with a narrative of the events that resulted in the damage to your car as well as your having to rush to the scene to arrest the removal of your properly parked vehicle.
I also hope that you got the meter maid's name so that you can include it in your letters.
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#4680784 - 02/28/18 04:28 PM Re: Opinions: Do I have any recourse?(Tow) [Re: bunnspecial]
mrsilv04 Offline

Registered: 12/08/06
Posts: 8301
Loc: Illinois
I work on a University campus, and campus parking is simply the worst. They're all jerks, and they're never wrong (even when they are wrong).

Just this morning, I had Campus Parking looking at my truck waaaaayyy too long. I was watching the guy out of my office window. I'm not sure what his problem was, or if he was trying to *find* something to write a ticket for.

I grabbed my keys and unlocked and locked the doors (which made a distinct "chunk...chunk" sound, and it also flashes the lights). That was enough to let him know that he was being watched... and he took the hint and left.

My advice... Get an estimate and find out exactly who in the department that you need to talk to. Plead your case. Be polite, but firm. Politely make it clear that your car should have never been on the back of that flatbed in the first place. You might be surprised what happens. A hothead will get nothing.

Our campus parking department is on the 2nd floor of the police station. Tends to cool people off as soon as they walk in the door.
2004 Silverado - on its 3rd Jasper engine in less than one year.

#4680789 - 02/28/18 04:33 PM Re: Opinions: Do I have any recourse?(Tow) [Re: bunnspecial]
Cujet Offline

Registered: 02/15/03
Posts: 7247
Loc: Jupiter, Florida
Fight it. Period.

From a realistic point of view, it will raise your stress level to red. However, if you don't fight it, you are setting yourself and others up for more abuse.

Quite simply, ALWAYS stand up for what's right.

And, your time has value. A car mechanic may charge $100/hour plus supplies.

#4680794 - 02/28/18 04:40 PM Re: Opinions: Do I have any recourse?(Tow) [Re: bunnspecial]
Wolf359 Online   content

Registered: 04/27/12
Posts: 4908
Loc: MA
I think the primary fault is the tow operator who damaged the car. The secondary cause would be the university. Regardless of whether it legally parked or not, the tow operator caused the damage so he's liable. Maybe he can pawn it off on the university, but that's his problem. I'd sue the tow operator. They're probably used to it.

#4680821 - 02/28/18 05:21 PM Re: Opinions: Do I have any recourse?(Tow) [Re: bunnspecial]
Leo99 Online   content

Registered: 03/30/14
Posts: 3118
Loc: NJ
I concur with Chewie. You're on university property and their contractor damaged your vehicle.
Without data you're just another person with an opinion. W. E. Deming

2003 Corolla 250,000 miles
2004 Rav4 359,000 miles
2015 Camry 59,000 miles

#4680823 - 02/28/18 05:23 PM Re: Opinions: Do I have any recourse?(Tow) [Re: Leo99]
cjcride Offline

Registered: 11/06/09
Posts: 1819
Loc: Ontario Canada
Originally Posted By: Leo99
I concur with Chewie. You're on university property and their contractor damaged your vehicle.

This. You paid for a service (parking) and suffered a loss.

#4680903 - 02/28/18 06:31 PM Re: Opinions: Do I have any recourse?(Tow) [Re: bunnspecial]
JLTD Offline

Registered: 12/15/17
Posts: 837
Loc: US
Get them both. The cop wrongly had your car towed, which resulted in damage, when you were properly registered and displaying the correct credentials.

The tow truck driver DID the damage.

I'd have the vehicle repaired somewhere so you can show a receipt, or at least ask for your time and the parts' cost. Both the parking entity and the tow truck have liability insurance.
Hers: 2008 Jeep Liberty 135k, AMSOIL SS 5w30/same

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#4680915 - 02/28/18 06:47 PM Re: Opinions: Do I have any recourse?(Tow) [Re: Cujet]
jeepman3071 Offline

Registered: 04/15/10
Posts: 4316
Loc: Storrs, Connecticut
Originally Posted By: Cujet
Fight it. Period.

From a realistic point of view, it will raise your stress level to red. However, if you don't fight it, you are setting yourself and others up for more abuse.

Quite simply, ALWAYS stand up for what's right.

And, your time has value. A car mechanic may charge $100/hour plus supplies.

Spot on.

Also, both parties have failed. The University intended to wrongfully tow your vehicle, and the tow company damaged your vehicle. What's the point of paying for a parking pass if they tow your vehicle anyway?
2000 Jeep Cherokee 4.0L (180k) - Pennzoil 10w30, Napa Gold 1516, Magnefine trans filter
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