Advanced Towing Is Unethical, or, Towing Companies Suck Cock

JTN-1568

I will begin this sorry tale by saying: “It was my fault I got towed, I parked in the lot.”

Tiff and I are regulars at Boulevard Woodgrill down on Wilson Blvd in Clarendon, we usually go once a week or so for a nice dinner, but parking is always an issue. With very few street spaces, exorbitant garages and lots patrolled by evil evil towing companies, it’s not exactly a pleasure. Usually, though, we have taken advantage of the lot next to Hunan Number One, because it is convenient, and rarely towed. In fact, before tonight, I’ve been parking there for two years without a trouble.

What changed tonight?

The car you see above and to the right, VA plates JTN-1568. Occupied by two kids from the local high school who had neither the image nor the drug test results to work at such an august organization as McDonald’s or Wal*Mart, the Towing Company was alerted to my presence shortly after we departed the car. Of course, they’re on the take from Advanced Towing who is to patrol the lot, but most likely under the table. As we arrived at their Ballston lot to pick up the car, I asked the two girls who were working there how much they paid the kids. The one who took my $100 and provided no change (the tow was $95), denied it, but her white trash coworker said “Oh they get paid enough.”

We returned to the lot to snap this picture and trade barbs with the two stoners in the parking lot. Watch out for this license plate. Watch out for two kids in a beat up grey Hyundai with nothing better to do that call in tows.

What I want to know is…

Whose parking space was I taking tonight? Big Belly Deli? I’m sorry, I didn’t realize they were open that late. Hunan One? I have never seen more than six people inside that restaurant. But yet, they towed me. What does this mean? I’ll never go to either of those places, and I’ll be much less likely to go to Clarendon for dinner anymore. At least in Courthouse, they don’t tow your car.

What burns me up is this:

1. The towing companies pay these kids to call in their tows.
2. This only hurts business in the area.

Unethical, I say. Unethical.

30 Comments so far

  1. wayan (unregistered) on September 2nd, 2005 @ 12:37 am

    You know I have to comment on this, but you’ll be surprised – I think towing during off-hours is wrong.

    During normal working hours, high-traffic times when a non-patron using the spot would decrease income to a business, tow away.

    But at night, or in off hours, WTF? It sounds like your lot was empty. In this case, as a business owner, I would want you to park in my lot.

    Not only would you note my location, making you think about my business, if I am open, you might come back on your way out, and last but not least, people walking around provides a great crime deterrent.

    As to the kids calling the towing company in on you, well, that is crap, but not unjustified. You saw the signs (even though, like I say above, I think its wrong) and you were rightly towed.


  2. JennB (unregistered) on September 2nd, 2005 @ 8:55 am

    They would dare to do this outside of Hunan One, one of my favorite restaurants? Not cool, man. Not cool at all.


  3. Parking_mojo (unregistered) on September 2nd, 2005 @ 9:37 am

    Sorry to hear about your woe. I personnally find those towing bastards akin to vultures, having been a victim and having friends who have been victims.

    However, in the same building where your fav restaurant is located is FREE parking after 5PM, the entrance to the garage is the other side of Hunan Number One. How can you beat that? Arlington County allows people to park there for FREE so folks like us can enjoy the amenities, shops and restaurants in the Clarendon area. Parking is also available for FREE at Courthouse, next to the Metro station. The parking facilities are normally County office parking so it makes sense for the County to offer this.

    Unfortunately, b/c of this fact, I have not found this extends beyond to Rosslyn or Ballston (which is need of FREE parking).

    I agree that businesses that don’t operate after 6PM should allow parking in their lots after hours. Maybe it would do the businesses that do conduct business after hours to negotiate with their 9-6 neighbors about making their lots available for patrons.


  4. Tiff (unregistered) on September 2nd, 2005 @ 10:55 am

    You’re talking about the DHS garage. We parked there once. We will never park there again. We got blocked in by the van owned by the church across the street and ended up having to scrape up the front end of my car against a chain-link fence in order to angle the car to back out of the space without taking the rear bumper off the van.

    Also, that garage gets randomly closed without warning at odd times, making it less than an ideal choice for evening parking.


  5. Parking_mojo (unregistered) on September 2nd, 2005 @ 3:26 pm

    Towed, blocked, scraped – I’ll chalk it up then to yous guys bad parking karma. In your earlier lives, you must have parked your horse too close to the drinking water.

    Guess I do have parking mojo cuz I’ve not had those horrendous experiences. Maybe you are better off, as Wayan says, car-free. :)


  6. Jim Mallory (unregistered) on September 4th, 2005 @ 8:00 am

    Let me get this straight.

    You park in a area that you know you are not supposed to be in parking in. It is probably marked as well stating that you will be towed if you park there improperly. You won’t use the facailities the local government provided for you, or other private parking, or valet service (if available).

    You get towed.

    So instead of bringing the matter up with your restaurant (you will no dobut remind you that there are parking facilities) or complaining to the local chamber of commerce (who will point out that there are places to park) you instead take your whining to two pieces of “white-trash” and take out the frustration of your own stupidity on two teenagers who appearantly got themselves a better deal than their peers working at McDonalds or Wal*Mart (and you probably don’t think highly of those people either). Just sit in a car all night and call in jerks who can’t read signs.

    Another thing, I probably wouldn’t make a habit of harassing drug users. Most are harmless but you never know when you will find one who has had a bit of chemical courage and decides he really doesn’t have a problem gutting you with a rusty piece of metal right now. Sounds like your illegal parking has caught up with you, I wouldn’t tempt God right now.

    I agree with the post above that maybe your parking karma has caught up with you but I don’t think it was a from a past life. It is probably because of your contempt of other people that you foster right now.


  7. DCeiver (unregistered) on September 5th, 2005 @ 1:46 pm

    “I have never seen more than six people inside that restaurant.”

    That’s the most puzzling statement in this entire article.

    At any rate, at least now you know that when they put up those big signs that ring the lot warning you that the lot is for Hunan, et al. customers only, they weren’t, like, kidding around.


  8. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on September 5th, 2005 @ 2:16 pm

    If there’s only six people in the restaurant, why do they need a lot with 16 parking spaces?


  9. DCeiver (unregistered) on September 7th, 2005 @ 7:25 pm

    What I am saying is that “I have never seen more than six people inside that restaurant” is flat out hyperbole. I am a habitue of Hunan #1 and I have never seen LESS than six people in that restaurant.

    Besides, I’m thinking that the the people that work there maybe take up a space or two also. And when I swing by for take-out, I come looking for a space myself.


  10. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on September 7th, 2005 @ 7:32 pm

    Fair enough. It’s just that when I used to park there on a weekday night, I’d never see a person in the joint, just some waiters. Weekends are a different story.


  11. L. Reid (unregistered) on September 19th, 2005 @ 1:29 pm

    These unethical tow scams are everywhere in the DC/MD/VA metropolitan area. My husband bought a new car on Sep 13 05. I drove it on 9.16.05 to drop off my grandson in the New Silver Spring, MD area and decided to pickup a sandwich at the Negril restaurant. I was in there 15-20 minutes at the most, but I made the mistake of parking on the Chevy Chase Bank lot, which was basically clear w/ample spaces. When I turned the corner the two truck driver had just put the metal under the back tires. I approached and advised it was my car and I would move now. There was one guy sitting in a car next to mine and two guys overseeing the operation — all were of Ethopian but non-the-less hired by Chevy Chase Bank! Same operation, different location and day! I had to pay $47.50 on the spot before he would unchain my car’s wheels. I learned a bitter and costly lesson; yes, I was wrong but I did not take up space or time from any Chevy Chase Bank customer! I will drive out of the way to use an ATM if the only choice is Chevy Chase Bank and the new Silver Spring, MD area might have just lost a good customer.


  12. Tow Girl (unregistered) on October 15th, 2005 @ 7:36 pm

    OK well guys here is my take on this… I happen to be one of these girls that you are calling ” white trash” and well all I have to say on this matter is READ THE SIGNS and you will not have this problem!!!!


  13. Frank (unregistered) on October 20th, 2005 @ 11:23 pm

    I agree with tow girl. If the sign says don


  14. Tow Girl (unregistered) on October 23rd, 2005 @ 4:58 pm

    Actually the fees are regulated by the county, We as a tow company don’t make the fees up. We only charge what they let us.


  15. Frank (unregistered) on October 23rd, 2005 @ 8:58 pm

    Accually I don’t know if that is true. I guess it could differ from county to county. I haven’t seen any regulations that limit the rediculously high towing fines. Besides if there are regulations the limits fpr fines are too high and need to be lowered.


  16. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on October 23rd, 2005 @ 9:11 pm

    Frank, VA state law says $95 a tow. Of course they charge the max and never make change, and only accept cash, and ATMs don’t spit out $5s…


  17. Tow Girl (unregistered) on October 26th, 2005 @ 10:58 am

    Well to be honest, if you watch where you park in the first place we would not have this blog. Same goes for the change! If you watch where you park you will not be towed in the first place.


  18. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on October 26th, 2005 @ 11:05 am

    There’s no excuse, Literally None, for not providing change. Every business, with the exception of your decrepit profession, provides change.


  19. hlo (unregistered) on October 26th, 2005 @ 5:13 pm

    There isn’t much that can get people who live in this city fired up more than a conversation about parking. I find myself in the strangest conversations sometimes that would be totally out of context anywhere else in the country (except for maybe New York and Boston).

    I live in Georgetown so parking is hell for me every day of my life. Don’t even get me started about street cleaning…I feel your pain!


  20. Sue Mi Kim (unregistered) on November 8th, 2005 @ 6:14 pm

    Check out this site: http://www.frankstowing.com/

    I feel your pain also, though as several people said (including you), you did know you shouldn’t have parked there. On the other hand, poor customer service is a running theme in this area (DC/VA/MD) and i say report away! Some of the employees of Advanced towing are unprofessional and rude if nothing else. By the way, ask for a copy of the contract if they claim they have a contract.

    I am talking to a county lawyer right now actually because im fed up with this crap. If you know a lot of people who have had problems with either this specific towing company or just towing in the Arlington county area, please contact me. I’ve been towed 3 times since i moved here a year ago, and only once was it warranted. At least twice it was by Advanced towing. This may not be Advanced Towing’s fault- it could very well have been the crappy management in the condo complex where i bought my condo. Here is my latest story.

    On Thursday of November, 3, 2005 around 8:25pm I parked at the N. Stafford Street International House of Pancakes (IHOP) next to the Ballston metro stop to eat. When I realized that my friend was not yet there, I walked into the restaurant to ask if they were the only IHOP in the area and if they were open 24 hours. The employees said they were, and I told them the situation, that I would be right back to eat. From there, i walked across the street to see if my friend was waiting at the metro stop or perhaps mistakenly walked into the mall building adjacent to the metro stop, believing the IHOP to be there. When i returned IN LESS THAN 10 MINUTES, my car had been towed.

    When i asked the IHOP employees about this, they told me IHOP had nothing to do with Advanced Towing, while the towing company told me they had a contract with IHOP, and that i was no longer considered a customer of the restaurant the minute i walked off the premises. Considering that i was parked there for no other reason than to eat, I find it pretty absurd that i am no longer considered a customer just because i went to look for someone, AFTER informing IHOP that i would be right back.

    The towing company also told me that they saw me walking back alone (which is true, i did walk back alone), so obviously i couldn’t have been getting a friend (or perhaps it was because he was unable to make it and couldn’t get in touch with me because i did not have my cell phone). One thing I hate is being accused of lying when I am not.

    I am currently in the process of getting in touch with the general as well as the district managers of IHOP (neither have returned my calls), the corporate headquarters in CA of IHOP (who did email back), and Advanced Towing so that I can see a copy of this contract that apparently lets you tow the second someone walks away.

    There were two guys who were sitting in the parking lot in a parked car who may work for the towing company- i wonder if they were the same dudes that told on you. They actually talked to me while i was walking up near them to read the phone number off the sign behind them. One guy rolled down the window and said, “Did they tow you?” I explained the situation and he didn’t say anything. Once i walked to the tow location, the towing company told me that if i didn’t have $95 dollars cash IN EXACT CHANGE, that i would have to use a credit card and pay $100 (i checked the law on this- it’s legal to add the $5 service charge for credit cards). But this is ridiculous- you can’t give me $5 in change if i give you $100 cash???

    I understand that cars may be towed at the owner’s
    risk when the car is parked somewhere where it should not be. But I was parked there TO EAT AT IHOP. I did not visit any other establishment or do anything other than walk off the parking lot for about 7-10 minutes in search of a fellow diner. It is absolutely stupid that I had to walk to this towing company and pay $100 (since I didn’t have exactly $95 in cash) to get my car back when I was clearly a customer of IHOP.

    It’s really no wonder that there were only like 2 people in IHOP that night. They even asked if i wanted to stay and eat. Yeah right! Anyway, I will never eat there again, and I freaking want my $100 back from this towing, as well as the $85 back from the other time last year when my car was towed illegally.


  21. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on November 8th, 2005 @ 6:26 pm

    Sue, I’m sorry they did that to you, especially when you had worked out an agreement with the management of IHOP before you left their premises. This is the sort of thing that just absolutely pisses me off. Personally, I think the sort of people that work for these towing companies are right above sewer slime on the evolutionary scale, and that their karmic balance will be largely in the negative.

    That’s the kind of pests we attract in this town, though.


  22. sue Mi Kim (unregistered) on November 8th, 2005 @ 6:31 pm

    Thanks for your sympathy. I just want something done and i want my damn money back! I even have documentation from the last time they towed me illegally from my apt complex (last year), and i complained to the board and association at my condo complex and they never wrote me back. I should have pursued it then, but i didnt because it just takes too much time.

    Re: this last towing incident, I don’t know that the employees i talked to were managers, but they clearly knew i was coming back. I also don’t necessarily think all the types of people who work at towing companies are slightly above sewer slime (though that was nice imagery haha)- but i think certain regulations should be in place to keep this kind of “poaching” in line. If I had been going shopping, or going to another restaurant or something, i wouldn’t be pissed. Anyway, i got pissed. And now im going to pursue it.


  23. Amused Observer (unregistered) on November 19th, 2005 @ 1:28 am

    Here’s the thing: In every case where y’all have been towed, THERE ARE SIGNS that give fair warning. As a business owner and property manager, I see nothing wrong with “trespass towing”. I cannot tell you the number of times someone will come in, say they “will be right back, just going across the street to the ATM” and disappear for hours. Taking up a space that SHOULD be reserved for a paying customer. Arlington has the same problem that most other urban cities do, that being a lack of parking space. Most of this is actually the fault of the county, for failing to require builders and developers to supply adequate parking.

    However, there ARE metered street spaces, even though you may have to walk a block. The bottom line is this: suppose I parked my car in your driveway, and left it for hours? How is it that educated people FAIL to grasp the simple issue: Don’t park in a lot unless you are patronizing THAT establishment! When you leave the premises, you aren’t a current customer, and the store cannot read your mind. They don’t know if you *really* will be right back, or are going barhopping, or meeting your lover, or whatever.

    One final thought: If not for trespass towing companies, y’all would be blogging about the impossibility of parking at your fav restaurant, which had a full lot but no one inside!!


  24. Another amused observer (unregistered) on November 19th, 2005 @ 5:34 pm

    Well said…ya got it right on da money. Everyone wants someone to blame, though…guess it makes people feel better.


  25. Chris (unregistered) on December 13th, 2005 @ 11:17 pm

    My wife’s car got towed today by Advanced Towing. After the cabby that took her to the towing company lot said he took several people there a week and knew right where it was and hearing it cost $120 to get the car back I got suspicious and started doing some research. In Arlington County the most you can be charged is $85 if you pick it up during normal business hours within 24hrs. I called Advanced towing and read them the law and was promptly hung up on. Luckily I don’t have a lot to do at work right now and I have a lot of friends who are lawyers and my new goal in life is run these criminals out of business. PLease contact me with any incidents like mine you have had with Advanced Towing. FYI: If you catch them taking you car the most they can charge is $25 and they have to put your car down. If they don’t call the police. Also, each county has different rules. In fairfax the most they can charge on weekdays, regular working hours mon-fri is $75.


  26. Christie (unregistered) on December 19th, 2005 @ 10:23 am

    Chris, I commend you on your spirit – Advanced Towing is a huge scam as I found out at the Exxon Mobil parking lot by the Arlington DMV. Got out of my car (which I parked in the back of the store), went to buy crackers and a gatorade and when I came out my car was gone. They said I went into the DMV and there was nothing I could do to prove otherwise (except show them my crackers, which went over REAL well). Makes me wish I had kept the receipt, like it would have helped… probably not. It’s a huge scam and could easily be called auto-theft. If they don’t witness you walking into the DMV, then they shouldn’t have a right to take your car; in my case, I’m $100 poorer and I’m angry. Even angrier now that I know there are laws that say what they are doing is wrong and no one has taken the time to stop it!


  27. Chris (unregistered) on December 20th, 2005 @ 5:24 pm

    I’ve just spoken with the Fairfax County Consumer Complaints Office. The gentleman there was very aware of Advanced Towing’s illegal behavior and seemed very eager to fight them on my behalf. In addition to confirming that the max charge I could have recieved was $75 (not the $120 I was charged), I also learned that Advanced had broken the law when they towed my car across county lines. I urge all of you to contact this office (easy to find on internet) with your complaints AND documentation. Find those receipts/invoices and send COPIES (keep the originals) with your complaints. Together we can work to take these people out of business.


  28. Towed from DMV (unregistered) on December 21st, 2005 @ 3:49 pm

    I was towed by Advanced Towing from a lot so close to the DMV that it was mistakenly used by people the whole time I was there waiting for a cab to the impound lot. They ran a serious racket that day, I witnessed about 8 cars towed after mine, I warned a few people that were in the process of parking- they promptly moved. Unfortunately there’s not much parking at the DMV on 4 Mile Run so all those people could do was put their car in line waiting for a spot to open up. I was charged $100 to get my car back, I did some research when I got home and found that they over charged me. I called them, they told me that the info on the County site “was wrong”. I wrote Arlington County. They were on it like white on rice! I seriously had no idea how bad they want to nail these guys. Send an email to Shontina at Sverastegui@arlingtonva.us w/ the facts about what happened if you get towed and overcharged. She’s very responsive and sympathetic to your cause. She’ll ask you to send in copies of the receipt from Advanced Towing showing how much they charged you. She’ll also request a write-up of what happened. After a few weeks I got a check from Advanced for the difference of what they towed me and what they’re allowed to tow me. The County sent me a letter they received from Advanced where they said they did nothing wrong but decided to pay me the difference anyway. They are predators and will soon be going the way of Frank’s Towing = tax evasion for not disclosing the full amounts of their fees.


  29. Frank (unregistered) on January 27th, 2006 @ 3:16 am

    Well I hope people have been using that info to stick it to the towing companies. I only wish there was someone responsive like that where I lived out in CA. Fight the good fight.


  30. Brad (unregistered) on January 27th, 2006 @ 2:06 pm

    I didn’t get a chance to read this whole blog. But I was towed by the mentioned towing company from Shrlington Village. I know why I was towed and was ok with paying for it. But they stole my after market speakers and went through everything in my car and moved everything around, bascially the equivlent to a house being ransacked. Also the kids working there all seemed to be white trash as someone else mentioned (I grew up in Fredericksburg so I know it when I see it) and they should be put out of business for doing things like that. It’s a shady white trash business.



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