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Tow Truck Operators Finally Seeing Red

If you’ve ever had your car towed, then you know how much of a hassle it is. It’s as if the tow truck operator works according to rules and laws that are completely different than everybody else. When you first realize that your car has been towed, you get that sinking feeling in your gut, because you are aware that the next 24 hours (or more) will entail dealing with maladjusted people who appear to actually get off on towing cars. Here’s how it goes:

  • You realize that your car has been towed… or you come across it being towed
  • If you try to stop the towing once it in progress, you are taking your life in your hands, because the driver will run you over
  • And don’t even bother trying to pay as your car is being towed, because they want to get it to the impound to see if they can squeeze any more money out of you
  • You spend time trying to figure out what has happened to justify the towing…
  • You hope and pray that it’s not a Friday, because if it is, you might not see your car until Monday, resulting in excessive fines
  • You then attempt to figure out where your car is
  • You make a phone call to the police, who may or may not have an answer for you
  • You miraculously figure out which towing company has impounded your vehicle
  • You speak to someone at the towing company that could care less about you or your car
  • You drive across Buffalo (no matter where you start your journey) to find yourself driving down some road that looks like Leatherface might live there
  • You find the office, which makes the office of Repo Man (the movie) look swank
  • You deal with a person who might as well be a robot, or an ATM
  • You (hopefully) get your vehicle and drive home, cursing the entire way

At least that was my experienced when my car was once towed. And I know others who say that they can relate to that experience.

If a vehicle is towed on a Friday, the owner is without a vehicle all weekend and charged almost double the cost of the tow approximately $400.

Have you ever felt as if tow truck operators have the system rigged? Well, thankfully there are others who feel the same way – people like South District Councilmember Christopher P. Scanlon, who is pushing for an ordinance amendment that would ensure that towing storage facilities are open on the weekends, so that the facility owners can’t just sit around for a couple of days watching football while collecting hundreds of dollars on each car that they towed. Moving forward: 

  • They must open for a minimum of 10:00 a.m. 2:00 p.m. on Saturday or Sunday and cannot charge fees related to storage on the day they are not open
  • The law also creates unified weekday operating hours to allow for vehicle retrieval Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. 5:00 p.m.

While many tow truck companies are on duty 24 hours a day, they have limited hours when drivers can actually collect their vehicles. Adding insult to injury, the car owners are relentlessly charged for storage.

“In no way are we questioning the need for towing or absolving vehicle owners of the fiscal responsibility,” said Scanlon. “But current practices place an unreasonable burden on vehicle owners. Expecting people to go an entire weekend without their vehicle is excessively punitive and potentially dangerous. People need to be able to get to work, doctor’s appointments, the grocery store, the pharmacy etc. Requiring tow companies to open on weekends allows for timely retrieval at a reasonable rate so that vehicle owners can return to the demands of their everyday lives.”

The new ordinance also requires the towing companies to immediately notify the local police station in writing when they tow a vehicle unlawfully parked on private property. Often times police officers are burdened with phone calls regarding towed cars. If an operator fails to comply, his or her license can be revoked.

This is great news. Hopefully the tow truck operators will finally see and feel exactly what it’s like to be inconvenienced. They have been running roughshod over people for years, and getting away with it. Now, at least the playing field has been leveled.

Lead image: By Buffalo cartoonist David Corbett. Cartoon presented by Hyatts – All Things Creative.

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

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