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Saturday, October 18, 2003

Birds of a feather

If Hitler were on his rise to power today, he'd likely be selling his agenda as a "jobs program."

All manner of evil is being done in the name of "jobs" nowadays. Most of the time, the argument is specious. For example, the Bush tax cuts aren't really about creating jobs, and they're not in fact going to create many (or perhaps any).

But even when jobs are in fact on the line, sometimes you just have to say no.

Take the wicked people who run the auto towing business here in the Rose City. If you're illegally parked and they come and tow you away, they can charge you between $200 and $400 to bail your car out. The ransom they charge, of course, is on top of any parking fines you may have to pay to the city. Oh, and on the way to the tow yard, be sure to have the cab driver stop at an ATM (or maybe two ATMs, given the way the towing folks gouge). Because a lot of the "impoundment" lots don't take credit cards of any kind. They deal in cash only, leaving the hapless driver to wonder what kind of people he or she is dealing with.

Well, a voice of common sense, Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard, wants to change that. He's proposed a new set of rules that would limit the amounts the tow companies could charge, institute a vehicle owners' "bill of rights," and force them to accept plastic, among other reforms.

The tow companies' response? If the new rules take effect, they'll lay people off.

"I'm not screaming wolf here," said Steven Preston, owner of 35-employee Sergeant's Towing. "I'm going to have to lay a lot of people off."
Where else have we heard this one recently? Sounds an awful lot like the telemarketers to me. And my response is the same: If the jobs you provide depend on your engaging in behavior that the vast majority of the public thinks is offensive, perhaps those jobs shouldn't be there in the first place.

No sympathy for these people. None whatsoever.

Preston and Retriever Towing owner Gary Coe said rates for private property impounds must be higher to cover costs unique to private-lot tows compared to tows after breakdowns where owners want their vehicles towed.

About one-third of vehicles towed from private lots are never claimed. And about one in five calls for tows from private property result in no tow because the motorist has driven off by the time the tow truck arrives. The frequency during consensual tows of unclaimed cars or motorists driving off before the tow truck arrives is much lower, said Coe and Preston.

Coe said the proposal will hurt tow companies and businesses trying to maintain order in their parking lots.

"I'm concerned about the perceived antibusiness attitude from City Council," Coe said.

I'm not. This time, the council is doing exactly what we elected them to do. Stop acting like jerks, gentlemen, and you won't draw so much fire.

Besides, Leonard's move is pro-business. It's pro-restaurant, pro-tavern, pro-retail, pro-performing arts. Under the current "wild west" tow system, when you get towed out of the lot next to a restaurant like Esparza's, your ostrich enchiladas wind up running you more than $200.

That cuts into people's budgets for patronizing real, nonpredatory businesses.

Comments (4)

I too applaud the City's move to reign in Sergeant's, et al. $200 or more is excessive, and they should be required to accept credit cards. However, I humbly maintain telemarketing is not predatory; it's the transmission of a message you're free to ignore. It's harder to ignore someone who's demanding a big chunk of cash to return your car to you.

NOTE: If you post a comment that constitutes or contains a solicitation for any commercial enterprise, you hereby agree to pay me $100 per day for every day until the comment is removed, up to a period of 100 days.

PLEASE!!!! You complain about people making money, then end your post with THIS!!!

As the owner and operator of a towing company I can sympathise with the plight of towys the world over.. I too have running cost and I am frequently called upon to justify my costing to ingorant motorists who require my services, "until it comes time to paying"! Perhaps you need to walk a mile in the shoes of a tow truck operator to see just where the money goes..??
I can tell you for a fact that fuel cost for "my" business are approximatley $20,000.oo per year! Insurance $6000.oo per year, registration $2500.oo per year and yard/lot rental $26,000.oo per year and rising!!!!!!!!
These are cost which HAVE to be met PRIOR to turning a key and heading off to pick up the next job...
Please don't think that because we don't wear a suit and tie, drive a luxury sedan and work in an office where our bin gets emptied daily by somebody else, that we are not honest, hard working, tax paying members of society..
You will be happy to know that I do not charge any extra for helping pick up the dismembered remains of those who think they are ok to drive twice the speed limit after a full night of drinking alcohol, (and I am probably doing this, whilst you're sleeping)!
So you had your car towed and you had to pay for it...BIG DEAL!!! But I meet people like you every second day of my 7 day working week and don't tell me, "it wasn't your fault"... Right..???
Please try looking at things from the perspective of others. "MY" prices are set by local authorities but are not dissimilar to those that I see you complaining of. Yes, we only accept CASH as time has long since taught me the valuable lesson that the calibre of some pepole that "I" am "normaly" forced to deal with would only be holding credit cards with SOMEBODY ELSES NAME ON THEM!
I hope this message goes part way to helping you get over the feeling that you have been victimised or hard done by, but everything happens for a reason and just maybe, when all is said and done, you've learnt NOT to park in a tow away zone..

Dear "Dan" with the hotmail address:

How laughable. Sorry, but if you can't figure out how to take a credit card, the way 99.9% of businesses do, you don't deserve to be in business.

And sorry, $200 or $300 for a tow is gouging.

What does the fact that you don't like to assist with crashes involving fatalities have to do with this discussion? Has having the right to seize someone else's property distorted your ability to reason?

Enjoy the new regulations. Your industry deserves worse, and unless you clean up your act, you will probably get worse, from our City Council.

Your comrades cry that you're so broke, but I wonder how they're paying all those thousands for lawyers to fight this. I hope all the recent publicity brings the IRS in to help you guys count all your cash.

OK, can someone tell me how it is legal for a tow company and/or an apartment complex to tow a vehicle, which is in its designated and covered parking space because it had expired tags which the owner forgot to renew? You just took $240 from my sister-in-law, who had forgotten to renew her car tags. You took it out of a rented carport designated to her at 3am! That has got to be illegal!

If anyone knows of a really good attorney who knows about this particular issue, landlord-tenant laws, and can give me a reasonable rate to fight this, let me know ASAP! It occured in Beaverton Oregon, Washington County



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