I think I’ve previously mentioned that working in local government often affords the opportunity to delve into matters about which one might not otherwise cogitate. A phone call last week reminded me of just such a topic; towing.
Assembly members and other folks at the Municipality of Anchorage receive periodic communications from folks who’ve had their vehicles towed. Usually these folks are, of course, unhappy about the tow but generally even more upset about the treatment and/or fee structure imposed by the towing company. And they’d like some kind of redress. Before digging into that it’s useful to understand the different categories of towing:
The most likely reason that most complaints stem from the latter category is something referred to as “predatory towing,” instances where tow operators prowl private lots looking for anyone parked illegally. Unlike public-property tows, fees are entirely up to the operator as long as they’ve submitted said fee schedule to the Clerk’s office, which then posts them on-line. Because the Clerk’s office lacks sufficient personnel to regulate the industry we hear tales of operators charging vehicle owners for things like being angry at being towed. (And there are plenty of stories of greater woe.)
So, what to do? Adding a regulatory scheme is one option, though it’s not clear where we could find the resources or how effectively we could provide enforcement. Another idea, one I’m growing to like, is to require the property owner or their representative to sign a form authorizing each tow performed on their lot (and the representative couldn’t be the owner or employee of the towing company). My thinking is that requiring active participation of property owners/managers would dramatically reduce the incidence of “predatory towing” and, with it, most of the complaints.
But I’m curious what readers think? Do you have a story to share? If so, do you expect a change like I’ve proposed would address your situation? Are there better ideas out there? I’d like to know more.
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