CHARLOTTE — Felicia Morrison says she parked at Woodie’s Auto Service but when she went to pay, she realized she had parked in the wrong lot.
She says by the time she got back to her SUV to move it a man was already chaining her wheel. “I didn’t know what was going on and I was like, ‘Hey, who are you and what are you doing?’” she said.
He was with the towing company R.E.A. Recovery. Action 9 found out that Woodie’s pays R.E.A. to patrol its lot.
Morrison says the man charged her $275 to take the chain off. “He gave me a timeframe on how long I could take to pay him, then told me if I didn’t pay him in that timeframe, they were going to tow it for $475, not the $275,” she said.
Morrison says she went ahead and paid the money.
Action 9 spoke with a man who says he runs R.E.A. He says he doesn’t remember Morrison’s case specifically, but that his crews wouldn’t chain someone’s car so quickly or pressure a driver into paying by threatening a higher price.
“I could have done better. I’m not going to put all of this on everyone else,” Morrison says, but she was still so upset about how the situation played out that she filed a police report.
She says police sent her an email saying R.E.A. didn’t break the law but she’s “not the only person who has had an issue” with this company and that officers have even “had a conversation” with the owner “on improving his signage and notification process.”
Action 9 reached out to Woodie’s Auto Service to get its take on this issue even though it didn’t do anything wrong. It did not respond in time for this report.
Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke says drivers should make sure they know what the current towing rules say. If you’re inside Charlotte city limits, here are some of the main ones:
- There must be signs on the property warning you about towing.
- The signs must be easy to read.
- The tow company has to accept cash and two major credit cards.
- The company must have someone on-call who can release your vehicle within 45 minutes.
- You’re entitled to retrieve your personal property from the vehicle.
- Tow companies can’t tow your car from public streets, only private property. That said, police can, but only if you’re blocking a fire hydrant, for example.
Click here to read the full Charlotte towing ordinance.
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