Monday, April 17, 2006
Help Me Howard: Towing
His van was illegally towed and came back scratched. He's asking Howard to find out who should pay to have it fixed. Here's the Night Team's Patrick Fraser.
WSVN--Tom anderton is the brother every man wishes he had.
Tom Anderton: "I'm here, doing some work, wintertime work at my brother's place."
Tom lives in Pennsylvania and to say that when he visits he just does little stuff would be a massive understatement.
Tom Anderton: "I'm putting in a BBQ for him and we're making the BBQ out of stone. And we had some stone left over so we're putting in a fireplace for him now, an outside fire place."
When he is here he stays at a beach front motel. Which is where his trouble started... And our story begins.
Tom Anderton: "I checked in on a Friday night about 8 o'clock and the manager there showed me where to park. And he gave me a pass to put in the windshield to make sure nothing would happen."
Seemed simple enough.
Tom Anderton: "I got up the next morning about a quarter to seven .. came out and the van ws gone."
It had not been stolen. Turns out tom had joined the ranks of the umpteen-thousand South Floridians who had their vehicles towed.
Snatched away while they weren't looking..
So Tom called the company that has the towing contract for the motel.
Tom Anderton: "The tow company says the hotel called to have it removed. The manager denied that."
While the motel and tow companies pointed the finger of blame at each other, Tom went to get his van.
Tom Anderton: "And when they brought my van out from behind their locked gate. There was some damage to the left rear that wasn't on there the night before."
When he asked the towing employee about it, Tom says the guy spewed a few words that would get the FCC after us if we put it on TV.
The tow truck driver got so belligerent Tom called the police.
Tom Anderton: "The police told me that was the third time they were there that day .. and that was about noon."
The police said there was nothing they could do and left.
Leaving Tom with two questions for Howard.
First does Tom have to pay for the towing.
Howard Finkelstein: "No, since the motel or tow company made a mistake and towed the car illegally ... they have to sort it out and thats not Toms problem."
And Tom did not have to pay for the illegal tow. But what about all the damage.
Howard Finkelstein: "Normally the tow company is responsible for any damage they cause...unless the car or van was towed improperly..in this case...if the motel made a mistake by having the van towed..they could be responsible for the repairs."
When we spoke to the motel manager he said they definitely did not call to have the van towed.
At the tow company the person who answered must have been having a bad day... They were very rude and sarcastic.
Later the owner called us back and told us unless someone saw them do the damage he won't pay.
He also claimed he's been sued a dozen times over damage and has won every time.
Howard says tow companies have alot of power but they are also regulated.
Howard Finkelstein: "Look for the signs when you park. Florida Law requires the signs be posted in plain view before a vehicle can be towed. But, if they break the law just be aware, the tow companies are holding your car hostage and you may have to go court to get your money back."
Tom at least has his van back, and will now let someone else fight to get the repair bill paid.
Tom Anderton: "My insurance should pay for the wreck, for the damage part and I'll have to pay for the deductible. And, then your insurance company will go after the motel or tow company? They said they would."
Patrick Fraser: "Bottom line, just do like Howard says... When you pull in to a parking lot -- even if you are going to jump out for 30 seconds to grab a cup of coffee -- make sure its legal to park there. Cause once they tow you, it can be trouble.
Someone parked a problem on you? Need someone to lift you out of the mess? Contact us. Not only are we legal, a few people even find us likeable.
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