A father whose son goes to UNC found out the hard way. He not only had a problem with how fast he was towed, but also with what happened once he went to get his car from the tow lot.
Al asked us not to use his last name. He said he parked in a private parking lot off Franklin Street despite warning signs. While the lot services several businesses, if you do not go to one right away, you will be towed.
"Pulled in parked right over here," Al said. "My son wanted to get dessert, so we walked up to the restaurant right around the corner."
He said when they came back about 30 minutes later and his car was gone.
"I'm thinking someone stole the car," he said.
It's then that Al said he noticed all the tow signs, and realized his car was towed. Despite saying he had intentions to visit the Ram Book and Supply Store with his son, a store that the lot was for, his car was towed before he had the chance to go there.
"They need to take a look if a person is using any of these facilities before they yank your car out of here," Al said.
Once he called the tow company, George's Towing, he learned he had to make a trip to the bank first.
"They told me I had to bring them $100 cash," he said.
Once he got to George's Towing, he paid the $100 and got his car, but not receipt.
I'm suspicious of any company that's a cash only system, especially if you're not offering a receipt. If you're not offering one, definitely a red flag," Al said.
While I was at the lot in question, Jeremy Edwards from George's Towing showed up ready to talk, especially when I asked him why they didn't accept anything but cash.
"You can cancel a check, you can cancel a credit card, you can stop payment," Edwards said. "People aren't happy when their vehicles get towed."
Edwards added every tow they do is legitimate as it's captured on surveillance cameras. He said the lot has a no walk off policy.
"So if you park here and walk down the street we're going to tow your vehicle," Edwards said. "If they ask for a receipt, we give it to them, but most people are too aggressive when they come to the lot. They call us aggressive towing, but if you'd see how they acted, things they do, you'd see why we hurry to get them off the lot so we don't have any problems."
Edwards admitted that while they do get many complaints, it's not going to stop them from doing their job.
"Point blank, read the signs in the parking lot, that way you know if you're legitimate to park there or not. If you're not legitimate, I'm going to tow you," Edwards said.
Al said he learned his lesson and hoped others will not make his same mistake.
"Make sure you know your exact address where you know you're parking," he said.
Because of all the complaints about not offering receipts, Edwards said George's Towing is changing their policy and now giving a receipt to every customer whose car is towed. They no longer have to ask for it.
George's Towing does not own the lot, they are contracted by the parking lot owner and George's is just enforcing what the lot owner contracted them to do.
But the towing issue is far from over, the Town of Chapel Hill is holding a public hearing on their towing ordinance on Nov. 14 after getting numerous complaints from drivers who have been towed from private lots. The complaints are similar to Al's, cash only, no receipts, and aggressive tow companies.
While the Town of Chapel Hill points out the towing tactic may be aggressive, such as the walk off policy, the surveillance cameras, they are lawful.