• Report: #47012

Complaint Review: Stepps Towing Company

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  • Submitted: Wed, February 26, 2003
  • Updated: Sat, September 15, 2012

  • Reported By:tampa Florida
Stepps Towing Company
9608 N Nebraska Ave. Tampa, Florida U.S.A.

Stepps Towing Company ripoff abused & mistreated would not release my scooter Tampa Florida

*General Comment: Towing and Recovery Fees

*Consumer Suggestion: Another perspective

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: County rules and laws

*Consumer Comment: Tampa tow companies/ Automotive Towing

*Consumer Suggestion: STEPPS TOWING IS A GOOD COMPANY

*REBUTTAL Owner of company: DOING BUSINESS THE RIGHT WAY

*Consumer Comment: Stepps is a stand up company

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I purchased a scooter/mo ped for my fiance and he was involved in an accident. The scooter had to be towed. The Tampa Police Dept. called Stepps Towing Co. The scooter was towed to their garage on Friday. Saturday i went to pick it. I was informed i was unable to because the registration was not in my name. That was fine so i went and got the title from my dealer who sold the scooter to me.

on top of that they were now charging me for three days of service. all the way back to friday. my scooter was brought in on friday around 1 pm and on sunday about 10 am they were trying to charge me for three days of storage. well twenty four hours make a day and technical my scooter had only been there for 45 hrs and they were charging me for 72 hours.

I presented the title with my name and they still would not accept that. stating the title had been altered. so i asked to present a bill of sale. i complied and presented a bill of sale. now because i presented it so easily Stepps requested i get the bill of sale notarized saying "anyone can type up a bill of sale" so now i had to wait until tuesday to receive a notarized bill of sale and by then stepps was racking up the storage fees. they now have received 100.00 more dollars then they would have had i been allowed to pick up my scooter the first time i went in.

Irene
tampa, Florida
U.S.A.

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 02/26/2003 06:21 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Stepps-Towing-Company/Tampa-Florida/Stepps-Towing-Company-ripoff-abused-mistreated-would-not-release-my-scooter-Tampa-Florid-47012. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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REBUTTALS & REPLIES:
0Author 6Consumer 1Employee/Owner
Updates & Rebuttals

#1 General Comment

Towing and Recovery Fees

AUTHOR: John - (U.S.A.)

It is always a difficult when someone is involved in a crash, and their vehicle is towed/impounded. As a registered owner of a vehicle it is your choice to put full coverage on what ever you are registering. From reading your slanderious post you declined full coverage. For some reason it always ends up being the towing companies fault from people like you that take a gamble and lose.

Stepp's Towing is an outstanding company, and I work for one of there major competers in the towing industry. I would bet my life that they followed Florida laws set forth to the towing industry to comply with. Stepp's Towing is in business to make money and turn profit, other wise what would be the point.

As far as the fees of towing, let me tell you how you can do the math. To buy and outfit a towing truck is very costly. you are looking at at least 85 to 100 grand for just a truck. expect to spend at least another 10 grand in equipment. Then you have to insure it fuel it maintenance it, and pay an operator. Have you ever seen the fleet that Stepp's has? It is top notch and they give great customer service and have been in business a long time started from the ground up with one truck. Seems to me they are doing something right.

As far as the retired cop having his sons car towed. I have to admit that I find it very hard to believe that a driver from stepps took it upon himself to police/troll a parking lot. If he did and he was wrong I am certian Stepp's would have corrected the situation.

Stepp's is a great company. Even as big as we are we still pick the phone up and use them, and we are only one county away. So please before you slander a good company please know all the laws before you start typing because as you can read  on here everyone has the same opinion, and put forth the laws all towing companies must abide by.

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#2 Consumer Suggestion

Another perspective

AUTHOR: Off Duty - (U.S.A.)

I've been on both sides of this matter. As a retired law enforcement officer, I've had the opportunity to work with Stepps on many many occasions over the years.

Most of the situations were traffic crashes, DUI arrests and stolen/recovered/abandoned vehicles.

On the flip side, my son had his (actually my wife's car that he was allowed to use) towed from a "fire lane" next to the Dallas Bull on December 19th.

Mind you this entire complex ajacent to the 'Bull is vacant that time of night and is regularly used for overflow parking.

Signage is posted at the entrance but obviously not enforced.

This "fire lane" was so poorly marked, one might have difficulty in broad daylight determing it's existence.

At night in a dimly lit parking lot with other vehicles parked over the faded lettering, it's almost assured that you'll miss it.

Furthermore, there are NO SIGNS on the walls or in the parking area, noting the existence of a fire lane at this (or any other) location.

Even with cars parked on either side, there would still be an unobstructed width of roadway (alley) to use in an emergency.

It seems that the Stepps wrecker driver decided to take it upon himself to impound 10-20 cars from that particular fire lane while, based upon the information I've been able to gather thus far, ignoring a greater number of remaining vehicles that were "illegally parked" according to the tow away notice posted at the entrances.

It seems strange to me that the driver would go to the trouble to single out these vehicles while ignoring more prominently parked vehicles?

I can only assume that the wrecker driver made a determination that this "violation" was more dangerous and agregious than the others?

The issue I have is the drivers ability or "authority" to make such a determination without law enforcement, Fire Department or at least a security officers input on the matter.

To randomly tow cars while ignoring others, smacks of impropriety!

It's been a common practice and problem here in Hillsborough County for wrecker drivers/companies to "patrol" (or troll as it's been referred to) parking lots in search of "improperly parked" cars all for the sake of revenue.

This is a practice that must be stopped.

If a property owner wishes to restric parking on thier property, that's ther right.

Signage needs to be in place and in accordance with Florida Statute, and all vilators should be removed immediately!

This location was not a one man shop but a publicly accessible, multi-use business complex.

IMO, they should also be required to have a guard posted and a representative avaialble on site to be the complainant in the matter, rather than leaving it to the discretion of the driver. That policy is just asking for trouble.

Fortunately, I was able to provide just that sort of "trouble" to a local wrecker company some years back.

It seems they were randomly towing cars from the Key Bank on Waters Ave. and Himes Ave., next to a local night spot in the Carrollwood area.

Working with a local Criminal Attorney, we were able using Florida statutes, to determine the signs to be illegal and invalid!

We took measurements and photographs of the "signage" and T'd it up.

As I recall, we were able to get several vehicles released without paying the "ransom" and IIRC, get some $$ back for the victims of this reduiculous and underhanded act!

I understand the need for safety. I understand the need to abide by and enforce the laws provided us.

That said, even a law enforcement officer uses some discretion in determining when and what to charge someone.

To aleviate the problems, we simply need stricter guidelines via the Hillsborough County Transportation Authority governing this sort of activity. Of course recently the wrecker companies rallied against any proposed ordinance changes. I wonder why????

As to this particular posters situation, I have to side with the wrecker companies policy of formal ownership documentation. Too much liability otherwise.

As to Stepps....gentlemen....I thought you were better than this?...You used to be:(
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#3 UPDATE EX-employee responds

County rules and laws

AUTHOR: Burt - (U.S.A.)

That goes true pretty much where ever you are in the country. The trouble is when someone is arrested or gets into an accident, they call at all hours wanting their vehicle released. The towing company (Stepp's in this particular situation) is required to release any vehicle to the registered owner or leinholder of record through Tallahasse.

If you haven't submitted your title to Tallahasse yet, and had it put in your name, that can cause a lot of problems. If you had a $60,000 car and you were in jail, you certainly wouldn't want it released to someone who claims to be a relative or friend. They must do it this way. If they didn't, I'm sure some people would have some pretty nice cars today just by going to any tow yard.

The rates are generally regulated by the county the incident occured in. In your case Hillsboro. Although, they are the maximum rates allowed, most company's charge the maximum. They have drivers to pay and very expensive equipment with upkeep, not to mention fuel. It happens the exact same way in Florida, California, New York and everywhere else you go.

They are in business to make money, not for their health, and believe me I'm sure the driver would rather be at home with his family than out towing your scooter, so please bear that in mind. Let it be a learning experience for you, and don't get your property towed, and you won't have these problems. Even if you do, a couple hundred bucks isn't the end of the world.
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#4 Consumer Comment

Tampa tow companies/ Automotive Towing

AUTHOR: Alex - (U.S.A.)

Irene,

I can relate with you as somebody that has also had some pretty rough experiences with tow companies. I recently had my car towed from a college apapartment complex. The complex had put notice out that towing had ended for the summer season. They had started towing from there due to a lack of parking spots for residence, understandable. However, the tow company is still allowed to tow a car if it has expired tags. The car was out of state so I knew that police couldn't actually do anything about this, but I guess tow companies can. So, my car gets towed. I call the "office" of Automotive Towing, which in turn was just one of the guys driving around in a truck. I ask him where my car went, he said we took, reads me off the address, and then hangs up. I call back and he gives me a number of somebody else to talk to. The guy explains that they had every right to tow my car and on and on. Let's make it clear that nobody called this company to come tow my car, they simply were patrolling a college complex looking for expired tags. Well, I ask the guy how much it is to get my car back. This is where it got really entertaining. He tells me that there is a flat fee for the tow, then the mileage. Since, the tow was taking the car further than 12 miles it is an automatic fee of I want to say 40 or 50 bucks. They basically set this mileage to just outside of the distance so they can maximize their profit. Next, he tells me that the first night is pro-rated and I am covered for the first 24 hours(I got my car within an hour of it being there, gee thanks for the pro-rated payment, how nice of you). Next, he informs me that if I want my car that night, since it isn't their hours of operation, I have to pay a $25 gate fee for somebody to come let me get the car. If I want the car during normal business hours I would have to pay an additional 25 bucks for another night of storage. Convenient how they tow me on a Saturday night when they can make the most money possible isn't it. Well anyways, when all is said and done I pay 200 bucks to get my car back. But, this is where it gets even better. The posts referring to the legal process of getting the car back are extremely accurate. My car is currently registered in my father's name(insurance is a lot less epxensive this way), so the first time I had my car towed(by a different company) I had to have my father send some notarized paperwork releasing the car to myself. Unlike my first experience with the tow industry, this time the gentleman simply photocopied my driver's license, had me sign my receipt, and sent me on my way. Well, good thing I knew it was my car, because this guy clearly didn't care about anything, besides my 200 bucks. I called the Hillsborough County Tow Association regarding the fact that the vehicle was released to somebody other than the owner. The woman stated that there was a mistake made and I should be grateful because the car ended up in my hands. So basically, these companies aren't held liable for anything. The first time I got my car towed the company had parked my car right next to another car (I will post the name of this company when it comes to me). I showed up to get my car back, just to see that a bumper that was placed on the roof of an adjacent car had fallen off and into my quarter panel, creating scuffs. The gentleman working the yard quickly tried to drag it away when I said I was calling the polilce. The company didn't care that they had damaged my car when it was in their hands, and told me too bad, you can sue us if you want. When it comes down to it, all of these tow companies scam young college students for money. They target kids that typically have student loans, plenty of bills, and an insufficient amount of money to just waste on getting a car back. It is a crying shame that these companies go this far out of their way (over 12 miles), just to sneak through a parking lot with a flash light and check the tags on college students' cars. Well the guy that gave me my car left me with these parting words, quoting nearly word for word to the best of my abililty: you know you guys all don't like us when we take your cars from the lots, but you forget who it is that tows your car out of the ditch when you are drunk, and gets it done before the cops get there...... Well, I don't drink and drive, but if I start, I know who I can call to save me before the cops get there..... My experience with tow companies has been some of the most unprofessional experiences of my life....
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#5 Consumer Suggestion

STEPPS TOWING IS A GOOD COMPANY

AUTHOR: Richelle - (U.S.A.)

I work for a towing company in Orlando FL
I have had the honor to have worked w/Stepps in the past. Our company had something in Tampa we could not get to and Stepps came in and helped out.

As to the upset lady..Most people are very upset when picking their vehicle up from an impound yard. It is law not choice for Stepps to have told you they could only release vehicle to the registered owner.Since thats not you of course they question the title. Usually title is same name of registrant.Ever heard of C.Y.A. (cover your ass)

What if your man had gotten out of hospital and went to pick up his scooter only to find it was released to you. Then gets upset and wants to sue Stepps for giving his scooter to someone other than himself.

Before you go slandering a GOOD COMPANY'S Name you should know the very specific laws regarding their situation.

and for your storage gripe. Yes there are 24 hrs in a day BUT new day begins at mid-night and it goes by each new day not how many hours. And the prices are county/city set prices.
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#6 REBUTTAL Owner of company

DOING BUSINESS THE RIGHT WAY

AUTHOR: TODD - (U.S.A.)

First i wanted to say sorry about your unhappy experiance with Stepp's towing service there are certain county and state laws that a towing service has to abide by when releasing a vehicle, storage is based on per calender day, that is mandated through the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission.

Stepp's towing service has been in business for over 43 years & is a family run business, we like to treat our customers like family, sorry again for the inconveniance you had to go through, but its to protect your personal efects and vehicle from just any one coming to pick it up.

*Please veiw our web page www.steppstowing.com
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#7 Consumer Comment

Stepps is a stand up company

AUTHOR: Bradford - (U.S.A.)

I owner of Bradfords towing in tampa have known Jim Stepp and his sons, they are a stand up company in Tampa. It is regular practice of a towing company and if not done a legal liblity ,to ensure that the legal registerd owner is present with documtation (title, ect) It is the owners responsibility to keep those records handy (as the towing company cant do it for them)and storage is for a calander day not per hour. The Hillsbourgh County Public Transportation Commission is in charge of all towing companys who tow for law enforcement, and investgate all complaints.
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