This is a company that relies heavily on patrol towing, an unfortunately all too legal (and yet, incredibly unethical and economically damaging) practice in Oregon, meaning their drivers (paid on commission) spend hours driving around, actively looking for illegally parked cars, sometimes waiting for people to leave their cars so they can swoop in and take them away, sometimes charging well over $300 cash to get them back. Many times the cars are actually legally parked, but they come up with technicalities such as "their permit wasn't completely visible" or other such nonsense. As they do not have to have permission from apartment managers and business owners to take cars away, obviously many mistakes are made and many innocent people--already hurting in a bad economy--suffer a major financial blow.
On the morning of the Beaverton City Parade this year, my friend (one of the performers in the parade) parked his truck in the parking lot of the Firecrest Manor apartments on Allen and Wilson. There was one small sign, partially obstructed from view by a tree, and anyway, he was only stopping there to unload some kit (he is part of an 18th century British Royal Navy reenactment group, so there is understandably some heavy stuff to deal with). By the time he got the kit unloaded, his truck got boxed in because the roads were then closed for the parade. Obviously, being in the parade, he couldn't wait around until the roads reopened to move his truck, and anyway, he hadn't seen the strategically placed sign and assumed that any unnumbered, uncovered space was for visitors (as any normal person would assume). There was also no other available parking near the mustering site for the parade.
Sure enough, when he and my husband (also a member of the reenactment group) got back after the parade concluded, his truck was gone. Beaverton Towing, knowing full well that the roads would be closed, laid in wait for their victims, and the moment the roads were opened, swooped in and took the truck. As they are a company that relies on roads being open, there is no way they did not have foreknowledge of this parade. There is no way this towing was not premeditated. There is no way they were not plotting ahead for this to take as many cars as they possibly could the moment the parade concluded. My friend and my husband sought out the apartment manager, who was absent, and eventually were told by a resident that it was likely towed. They also said that guests to this complex were frequently towed by this company. My friend finally located the solitary sign, called the number, and was told he would need to come pick it up from the yard, and, although it is not even 5 miles away, somehow they thought it fair to charge $335.
I picked the pair of them up, and we all went to the yard and had to wait at least ten minutes before a very scruffy chain-smoker finally decided to show. I should note that they proudly had a "Gary Coe for State Senate" sign displayed on their chain-link fence, which should immediately tip you off as to what type of operation this is (if not, visit towcoe.com and prepare to lose roughly half a lifetime's worth of faith in mankind). He would not budge on the price and added that for some reason they would only take cash. This IS the 21st century, right? I thought we had these nifty new things called credit card readers. Perhaps I am wrong, and everyone else always keeps exactly $335 cash on them at all times, for just such a situation. I digress.
Not knowing what to do, we called for help. A few members of a pirate reenactment group they interact with at various events showed up. I should note that while everyone that showed up was in costume and most of them own period pistols and muskets, obviously those weapons were not on their person at the time (and they are never used with live rounds anyway). And yet, when we approached the driver to try and persuade him to have a heart, to have a little mercy, to see what his company had done was unethical and wrong, some of the first words out of his mouth were, "I don't have to deal with anyone but him. Now, you can get off my yard or I'll call the police and have you all arrested!"
Which is kind of funny, considering this is an actual quote from the Beaverton Towing website:
"Our Mission: To provide outstanding customer service with the highest levels of quality, respect, and integrity. Our drivers go through extensive training. They are committed to ensure that your experience with us is as pleasurable as possible."
Instead, we got horrible customer service from a disgusting man who spent most of the time leaning nonchalantly upon the back of his truck, continuously smoking on the job. He even called another driver in for backup, for whatever reason. Obviously we complied with his threat, because there was no need to bring the police in on this. It was such a ridiculous escalation on his part to immediately threaten us with that. One of the men from the pirate reenactment group called the Beaverton Towing office to speak with the manager, but she outright refused to speak with him, passing him off to some unfortunate lackey who obviously had no choice but to tow the party line or be fired. Another one of the pirate reenactors called KATU about the story, and they sounded very interested indeed.
Finally they gave us an ultimatum: pay $335 cash in 20 minutes or pay another $40 per night of storage (bear in mind, they announced this well before 4 in the afternoon). My friend has been hurt by the recession. He could not afford this. He is such a nice, honest American. He does not deserve this at all. None of the present company are rich by any means. We could not get the money together ourselves.
In the end, the money had to come from the non-profit, educational reenactment group my friend and my husband are part of. Yes. That's right. This towing company actually gouged a NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION for $335 with their patrol towing practices. Without batting an eye.
I would like to think there is a special place in hell for these people, but somehow I don't think even Satan himself could prepare an appropriate punishment.