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Lawyer question, moving truck towed from apartment (not me) Chicago / Lincoln Towing

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Lawyer question, moving truck towed from apartment (not me) Chicago / Lincoln Towing

Old 03-23-06, 01:29 AM
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Lawyer question, moving truck towed from apartment (not me) Chicago / Lincoln Towing

Read this in the Chicago Tribune today. In a nutshell...

Guy lived in an apartment complex that had assigned parking, sticker required. A towing company was authorized by the apartment management to tow any vehicles without the parking sticker. The guy had a sticker on his car, but had a Ryder truck parked in his own spot while moving out. It was towed, three blocks, at a cost of $750.

Question: Does he have a small claims case against the apartment or the towing company?

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...l=chi-news-hed (registration may be required)

Towing firm has another very unsatisfied customer
Jon Yates

Published March 22, 2006

Lincoln Towing Services has been immortalized in song and lampooned in print.

For decades the company was reviled for allegedly towing legally parked vehicles, and a driver once towed a car with two children inside.

Regulatory officials say it has shaped up in recent years.

Dean Clark disagrees.

In August, the North Side company hauled away Clark's rented Ryder truck while he was moving from his Ravenswood neighborhood apartment.

Clark, 36, protested, saying the fee--$750--was exorbitant, and that the truck shouldn't have been towed in the first place. Clark parked it in a private space for which he had paid.

When his complaints to Lincoln Towing fell on deaf ears, he filed complaints with his alderman, the Illinois Commerce Commission, the attorney general's office and the Better Business Bureau.

Seven months later, Clark still hasn't gotten his money back. So he wrote What's Your Problem.

"It still infuriates me," he said. "I still get angry thinking about it. I work two jobs, and it's something I hate dedicating the time to, but I just feel it's unjust."

The Problem Solver called Lincoln Towing's manager, Bill Soupas, who said his company did nothing wrong and will not refund Clark's money.

He said the apartment management company contracts with Lincoln Towing to patrol the lot and tow vehicles that don't have the proper parking sticker.

While Clark had a sticker for his car, he did not have one for the rental truck. The truck, Soupas said, was fair game.

Soupas said the apartment's management company has since called and told the towing service to quit hauling moving trucks from the complex's parking lot.

But at the time, Soupas said, Clark did not have "special permission."

"We're hired to do a job, and if there's a miscommunication between the tenant and the management company, that's not our fault," Soupas said.

Soupas said the $750 fee was justified because of the difficulty of the tow.

It is, officials say, an unregulated area.

While the towing of vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds is policed by the Illinois Commerce Commission, the towing of trucks over 10,000 pounds is not.

So while towing companies can charge only $150 to tow vehicles under the weight limit, they can charge whatever they want for moving trucks like Clark's.

State law says private towing companies must keep a list of their tow rates on file with local law enforcement officials. But Chicago police spokeswoman Monique Bond said her department has no such list for Lincoln Towing, and she was not aware the Police Department is supposed to keep it.

Cmdr. Craig Baner of the Illinois Commerce Commission Police said that from 2000 to 2005, his agency received 2,078 complaints about Lincoln Towing--more than any other towing company in Chicago. But, Baner said, Lincoln Towing does more business than other companies, and its complaint rate is similar to that of the other companies.

Of the complaints the commission received over that 5-year period, Lincoln Towing issued full refunds in 139 cases. Again, Baner said, that rate is roughly in line with other companies.

"I don't believe they do any worse a job, or a particularly better job than any of the other relocators out there," Baner said.

Still, Lincoln Towing has had its share of controversies.

Last year, one of the company's drivers towed a van with a dead body inside. In 2002, another driver hauled a car with two children in the back.

The company was so notorious on the North Side in the 1960s and '70s that Steve Goodman penned a song about it. The title: "Lincoln Park Pirates."

Clark said the title sounds right.

He said that when he originally called about retrieving his truck, he was told it would cost the minimum: $150. But when he got to the tow lot, roughly three blocks from his apartment, he was told the fee was $750.

A sign posted in the eight-spot parking lot behind his old apartment says the rate to tow vehicles over 10,000 pounds is "$250 and up."

"That rate is just unbelievable. It's astronomical," Clark said. "It just seemed like they pulled that number out of the air."

Clark said he paid it because he needed to return the truck that night, and because waiting any longer would mean incurring storage fees.

He thought he could simply stop the payment on his credit card but was told by the credit card company that he could not.

Clark said the $750 represented a half-month of his salary.

"I can see there is a need for a company of that nature to provide a service," he said. "It just seems like at times they go a little bit overboard and they're just robbing people."

- - -

THE PROBLEM

Dean Clark's (above) rented moving truck was towed from a private parking spot behind his apartment. Lincoln Towing charged him $750.

THE OUTCOME

The company refuses to issue a refund.
Old 03-23-06, 01:37 AM
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I'm not a lawyer, but I'll throw in my two cents. If the towing company is being unreasonable and stubborn, I think he should go after the apartment building owners/management company, if they are the ones who called the towing company in the first place (or have a deal with company to tow from their premises). They must have known he was moving out.
Old 03-23-06, 01:41 AM
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Wow. Why am I not suprised it happened in Chicago?

Wasn't there a story recently in the Trib about a towing company with ties to the Daley family? (Oh wait, I forget, Daley knows a LOT of people, he knows people who build fences around O'Hare, he knows construction people, he knows towing people, he knows all sorts of people from his Bridgeport neighborhood. How could I forget??)
Old 03-23-06, 06:38 AM
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Originally Posted by ChiTownAbs, Inc
(Oh wait, I forget, Daley knows a LOT of people, he knows people who build fences around O'Hare, he knows construction people, he knows towing people, he knows all sorts of people from his Bridgeport neighborhood. How could I forget??)
Indulge me, but why would you actually type out "I forget..." in your post? There's no edit notation, so you could easily hit backspace, or delete the question you realized you knew the answer to.

Back on topic, that's a pretty farked up thing to do. The tow company can reasonably assume that a moving truck in the parking lot of an apartment building is there for good reason, and it doesn't have a sticker because no one would use a moving truck as a daily driver. A quick call to the apartment management would be easy, but they're not paid to give people a break, they obviously towed it for the money. Still, it's not really about common sense, it's about what they can legally do.
Old 03-23-06, 08:17 AM
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Originally Posted by FinkPish
I'm not a lawyer, but I'll throw in my two cents. If the towing company is being unreasonable and stubborn, I think he should go after the apartment building owners/management company, if they are the ones who called the towing company in the first place (or have a deal with company to tow from their premises). They must have known he was moving out.
I doubt that's what happened. Probably, they just patrol these lots during the day and tow without being prompted.
Old 03-23-06, 09:48 AM
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If the apts. did that to me, you can bet I would have gotten my deposits' worth, plus much more, destroying the shit out of that apartment.
Old 03-23-06, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by cdollaz
If the apts. did that to me, you can bet I would have gotten my deposits' worth, plus much more, destroying the shit out of that apartment.
Yeah....because that is the adult thing to do......

Many times towing companies have contracts with an apartment place and they are given permission to tow violators...without having the apartment complex call them. Since a towing company makes money on each tow....they can aggressively go after people and be a real pain in the butt without the apartment employees being present.

-p
Old 03-23-06, 12:53 PM
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What asshats! I bet they'd tow an ambulance too!
Old 03-23-06, 01:02 PM
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The first time I visited a friend in his new apartment complex, I stopped by the front desk to check where I was allowed to park as a visitor. She directed me to a certain area, so I went there and parked. I was towed. She neglected to give me a visitor sticker, and neglected to tell me about a visitor sticker. There were no signs posted.

I took them to small claims court and lost. The judge berated the apartment manager and said he thought it was idiotic on their part and that he thought they were in the wrong, but that from a legal standpoint they were free to do whatever they wanted since it was private property.

Afterward, signs were posted throughout the complex that very clearly indicated which areas were visitor parking and that they required a pass available from the office. So at least it probably saved someone else some hassle...
Old 03-23-06, 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Breakfast with Girls
The first time I visited a friend in his new apartment complex, I stopped by the front desk to check where I was allowed to park as a visitor. She directed me to a certain area, so I went there and parked. I was towed. She neglected to give me a visitor sticker, and neglected to tell me about a visitor sticker. There were no signs posted.

I took them to small claims court and lost. The judge berated the apartment manager and said he thought it was idiotic on their part and that he thought they were in the wrong, but that from a legal standpoint they were free to do whatever they wanted since it was private property.

Afterward, signs were posted throughout the complex that very clearly indicated which areas were visitor parking and that they required a pass available from the office. So at least it probably saved someone else some hassle...
Same thing happened to me in Arlington. When I asked the front desk lady, she said, "you didn't ask me for a pass, you asked me where to park". Fuckjob. Owner of the towing company said that he basically makes a living towing from that place, cut me a break on the tow (I did pay cash). He said they are notorious in Arlington for doing that.

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