Sunday, May 30, 2010

Being Legally Right May be Dead Wrong



“For as long as I can remember, and I’ve been on the Police force for 24 years, early morning walkers and joggers have parked in front of the shops and returned before 8 am to remove their cars and there has never been a problem”

On Saturday, May 29th the owner of Beachcomber Shops and the building located at 2080 NW 2nd Street Deerfield Beach, FL hired Recon, Inc. located at 6574 N State Road 7 # 321 Coconut Creek, FL 33073 to monitor their parking lot to help them tow away illegal parkers. Starting at 6:30 am the parking lot monitor hid in the bushes next to the Howard Johnsons and took pictures of the regular joggers leaving their cars to walk the beach and then he called an army of tow trucks to come and remove the cars quickly before they returned.

Evidently the owner of Beachcomber Shops and Recon think that it is good customer relations to hide in the bushes and lay in wait for the opportunity to inconvenience their potential customers at an hour that they have no need of their parking spaces.  Rather than to use the opportunity to inform the regulars of the change in policy giving them fair warning, they think they can win friends and influence customers by jumping at the opportunity to tow their cars and earn the tow company Westgate Towing $100 per car.

When the 8 victims returned for their cars, they only had a phone number to call to retrieve their cars. In my case my cell phone and driver’s license was in the car along with what little money I brought to walk the beach at sunrise. When I asked to use the phone at Bob’s Pizza I learned that one of the 8 cars towed away from the building belonged one of their employee and had an employee sticker on the window. But that did not matter given the zeal of the new parking lot monitor.  For him every car was fair game and the more the merrier.

Once I was able to rouse someone at 7am on a Saturday morning to take me to retrieve my car, yet another horrible adventure began. I called Westway Towing and received the address of my car as 2527 W. Hillsboro Blvd. Deerfield Beach, FL 33442. When I arrived at the office I was met by an unhappy and unhelpful tow truck driver who informed me that he was at the end of a 16 hour shift and that this was his second job. He escorted 2 of his victims into a room that was more disgusting and horrible than any public toilet I have ever seen at the worst gas station in a bad neighborhood. This was the best that the $800 haul for the morning tows could afford?

He proceeded to demand from me my drivers license, registration and proof of insurance, all required by law. I also had to give him my credit card, compliments of my friend who picked me up which he then called in to process for the $100 payment. When I asked who authorized him to confiscate my car, he told me that he was not allowed to share that information. He had every piece of information about me, enough to steal my identity but I could not know the name of the person or company that was responsible for my inconvenience.

Upon completion of payment a third hapless victim arrived and he told her to wait inside while he opened the gate to let the 2 processed victims out of the lot. When we got to our cars we found the windshield covered with white lettering on the driver’s side of the car. It did not seem safe to try to drive the car with obstructed vision but when we asked if he had a rag or toilet paper to wipe it off with he said, “Lady, this isn’t my problem and if you don’t want to leave then I don’t care.” At that point he relocked the gate and moved the tow truck in front of it so we were unable to leave.

He then went back inside and processed the 3rd victim while we scrounged around the yard for an old towel to clean the windshield so we could be ready to drive safely away if we were ever given the chance to leave again. After about 15-20 minutes of waiting he re-emerged and opened the gate for the 3rd victim and we were able to escape our nightmare at that time.

If you use Westway Towing or are considering using them I would highly recommend against it as they treat their employees and their customers very badly and expect you to operate in conditions that are on par with third world countries in terms of cleanliness and customer service. As an alternative I would like to recommend: Bonnie Towing or Emerald Towing.

And yes, I know the sign posted 11 feet from the curb that says 24 hour towing strictly enforced makes what they did completely within the letter of the law. But I also have my rights of free speech and am able to say that sometimes you can be legally right but if you are in a business that interfaces with the public your being right can cost you plenty of lost business due to poor treatment of your neighbors and customers. It is more about doing what is right by others (also called the golden rule) which is always good to apply in situations like this, not your legal rights.  Pay your parking lot monitoring company to inform regulars about your new policy instead of hiding in the bushes and playing gotcha with a big towing bill. Thanks Beachcomber for a memorable memorial day.



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