Overnight parking decision spawns $612 in tow fees

Overnight parking decision spawns $612 in tow fees »Play Video
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Jeremy Cruse said his car was wrongfully towed Sept. 7. According to Cruse, after his tire blew out around midnight on Oak Street, he pulled into the parking lot of 700 Oak Street, a plaza that includes a Subway franchise.

He said he came back the next day with a spare tire, only to find the car missing. The cause? The manager of Subway had it towed.

"Subway said they hadn't had it towed," Cruse said. "Later on, we found out on paper that it was them, in fact. And we have the manager's name and everything."

The manager's name is listed on the report from the tow truck company. And, it seems the manager may have been too hasty in getting his truck towed. According to the Department of Motor Vehicle's policy on towing, every entrance to a private property is supposed to have a sign that says that unauthorized cars could get towed, along with the towing company's information. Problem: There is no sign to the back entrance of this lot, which is where Cruse came in that night.

On top of that, Eyewitness News did not see towing warnings displayed prominently in all areas of the plaza.

Multiple calls to the owner of that particular Subway were not returned. Cruse has paid $612 in tow truck fees, a price he said has wiped him clean, because he's on unemployment.

"It cost me pretty much every dime I had to get that car out," Cruse said.

That's another concern for Cruse, the cost of getting his car back. He said getting the money together for a bill like this takes time, and that it was tough to keep up with the daily fees.

"Talk about kicking somebody when they're down," Cruse said. "I've got a flat tire, and before I can get it repaired, it cost me an extra $600."

The tow truck company, Payless Towing, said it's fair business practice.

"We always look like the bad guys," a Payless Towing spokesperson said. "The fee is what it is because keeping up with our costs and insurance is expensive."

Another one of Cruse's concerns is that it costs around $75 after work hours just to confirm if your car is actually in the tow yard. Cruse said it's an outrageous fee, but Eyewitness News did call around to a few local tow truck companies and found that the charge is standard, since the work is being done after hours.