A local towing company is under fire for what customers call unethical and illegal business practices, but the owners of the demolition service say the complaints are nothing more than a smear campaign.
Several business owners and Northgate customers have contacted KBTX in recent months to say their vehicles have been hauled from the Coyote Lot even after paying for parking.
The lot is located at Church and First Street and costs $ 5.00 for parking.
Coyote Lot is owned by the same people who own Dixie Chicken, and parking is enforced by Roadrunners Towing & Recovery.
Customers have to deposit money into a piggy bank monitored by multiple cameras and spotters who monitor remotely.
The system is flawed, according to those who shared their experiences with News 3’s Rusty Surette.
Jessica De La Cruz, owner of 4.0 Cuts, claims her car has been towed twice. It was returned once after Roadrunners realized he had made a mistake.
“They said they were sorry, and they made a mistake because their cameras were malfunctioning at the time,” said De La Cruz.
Tom Chavers and Sandra Portzer, the owners of Roadrunners, confirmed this on Sunday in a phone conversation with KBTX and agreed to share their side of the story in a camera interview on Monday.
They then declined the interview, saying our story was one-sided, one-sided and that their lawyer had advised them not to speak to us due to an ongoing dispute involving one or more of his clients.
De La Cruz is concerned about the impact of towing on his business.
“They also tow my staff and my clients,” she said. Other nearby business owners and managers echo her concerns.
Tristan Dudely runs a bar in Northgate and claims it was not only towed away after paying the fee, but the tow truck driver damaged the
under his vehicle.
“I’ve had three different mechanics tell me that kind of damage happens when the car is dropped,” Dudley said.
An average Coyote Lot tow can cost $ 300. Dudley says that ultimately towing and repairs will cost him almost 8 times that amount.
In a statement to KBTX, the owners of the Coyote Lot called the payment system “simple and efficient,” but it is one of – if not the last – Northgate parking lots to use a cash deposit box.
Others use electronic machines that accept debit and credit cards.
Several of the people KBTX spoke to for this story said they have filed or plan to file a complaint with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation – the state agency that regulates and monitors towing services.
In 2016, Roadrunners was assessed a penalty and fine of $ 1,450 by TDLR for violations unrelated to its towing practices.
The company’s profile on the Better Business Bureau website shows that 4 complaints have been filed against the towing company, but maintains an A- rating.
KBTX has asked every justice of the peace in Brazos County for a list of the number of towing hearings requested in 2018 for cases involving Roadrunners.
No hearing was recorded this year.
Two hearings have been requested. It was not specified for whom the judge ruled in favor of these cases.
8 complaints filed. Two were ruled in favor of the owner of the vehicle. Two were judged in favor of Roadrunners. Three were made redundant. A case is still pending.
When a tow truck tries to tow your car or after your car has been towed, you have certain rights as the owner of the car under the law.
If you return to your car and it is hitched to a tow truck but it is NOT FULLY plugged in and ready for towing, you can keep your car WITHOUT PAYING FEES. You don’t need to prove ownership of the car in this case.
If you return to your car and it IS FULLY HANGED, READY FOR TOWING, BUT DID NOT LEAVE THE PARKING, you can keep your car but YOU MUST PAY A DISCOUNT. You also don’t need to prove ownership of the car in this case.
If your car has been towed from a parking lot, you can find your car by calling the phone number on the no parking sign. You can collect your car from the Vehicle Storage Facility (VSF) after documenting that you are the owner (or authorized user) and paying the towing and storage charges.
You can apply for a TOWING HEARING at any county peace court where your car was towed if you believe your car was towed, stored, or wrongly started; or if you have been charged more than the allowable charges.
You must request a towing court hearing within 14 days of towing.
Consumers can file a complaint online through TDLR’s website regarding a towing company, towing operator, car storage facility or their employees, or a start-up business or their employees.
Filing a complaint with TDLR does not replace a request for a towing hearing; however, you can do both.
Full statement of Dixie Chicken, Inc.
Dixie Chicken, Inc., is not in the towing business and we are generally not involved in disputes between customers and the towing company. For years Coyote parking has used a very simple and efficient payment system which represents excellent value for money for parking customers. We are pleased to be able to provide affordable parking in the Northgate district. On rare occasions, some customers cannot read the signage. In some cases, people do not pay for parking and are subject to towing just like other parking lots in our community and in Texas. The company that owns the parking lot has hired an independent contractor as the towing operator. While we often work with clients with legitimate complaints, we have found over the years that the majority of complaints are unfounded and towing is legal.