RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina Attorney General announced Wednesday that he won a preliminary injunction against a Charlotte tow company sued for price-gouging.
Authorities in North Carolina filed the state’s first price-gouging lawsuit earlier this month against a towing company accused of employing predatory towing and booting practices during the coronavirus pandemic.
The injunction limits fees the defendants can charge for towing and booting services, requires the defendants to release impounded vehicles after owners pay half the lien amount and restricts business practices for the duration of the lawsuit.
“I’m pleased that the court has barred these defendants from taking advantage of any more consumers as we continue this lawsuit,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “My office will hold accountable price gougers who harm North Carolinians during this crisis.”
Stein previously said that a temporary restraining order was issued on Charlotte’s A1 Towing Solutions and its owner, David Satterfield, for allegedly violating the state’s price gouging statute.
The order banned them from conducting their towing business until the court hearing.
The lawsuit filed on May 5 says the company charged drivers more than $4,000 to release their trucks after improperly towing and booting them.
Dimetrius Wingo said he was delivering water.
“That’s all we haul: medical supplies and water,” he said.
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He told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke he parked in the Home Depot parking lot on Albemarle Road on March 30.
He says the store gave him permission to leave his truck overnight, which is common.
"I came back the next morning and all the trucks were gone," he said. He thought, "Where is my truck and who stole it?"
He told Action 9 that A1 Towing Solutions had towed it and he had to pay $4,200 to get the truck back.
“We’re out here day and night trying to make sure everybody has what they have and then you have a company like this that doesn’t even care,” he said.
He says someone -- probably the company -- put up a warning sign in the Home Depot parking lot the next day.
Stein told Stoogenke multiple truck drivers complained about A1 Towing Solutions.
The Attorney General says the company:
- Targeted drivers delivering food, water, bleach or medical supplies
- Forced drivers to pay exorbitant amounts – up to $4,400 – to get trucks their trucks back or the boot off
- Booted the tractor and trailer so drivers had to pay twice
- Charged high fees for using a credit card
- Threatened to charge more if drivers didn’t pay immediately
- Charged fees for DMV filings which allegedly don’t exist.
“Look, most people out there are doing right. They’re trying to provide a product, they’re trying to provide a service, that helps people. Unfortunately, there’s going to be a few greedy people out there and when they are, we will come after them,” Stein told Stoogenke.
North Carolina’s price gouging law went into effect on March 10 when Gov. Cooper declared a state of emergency in North Carolina in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stein and the North Carolina Department of Justice are reviewing price gouging complaints from consumers closely and said they are prepared to take action against any businesses engaging in price gouging activities.
To date, 2,001 complaints have been filed with the office.
If you are concerned about a seller charging an unreasonably excessive price, please report potential price gouging by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or by filing a complaint here.
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