Carrier Pays $3,300 to Remove Boot After Trucker Threatened With $8,000 Charge
Charlotte, NC – A Kentucky truck driver was threatened with an $8,000 tow and impound charge after his tractor-trailer was booted at a Walmart early Thursday morning.
Donald Spellings, 38, of Radcliff, KY, was on his 10-hour rest break and preparing to make a delivery of Coca-Cola products for Auburn, KY-based Downey Trucking on Thursday morning when he was awakened by pounding on the driver’s side door of his truck at approximately 12:30 a.m.
“You are booted and you cannot move,” Spellings recalls being told by a representative of Trust Towing and Recovery (TTR), which was working the Walmart parking lot in Charlotte, right off of State Highway 16.
Spellings said he was startled and shocked because only hours earlier he had called and spoken with the manager of the store and was assured parking his rig there was “not a big deal.”
“We love truck drivers,” Spellings said he was told by the Walmart manager.
Once he arrived to the store, he went in, purchased a few items, then again sought and received permission to park his rig in the lot.
In fact, Spellings says during the course of his 7-year career as a trucker he has followed the same protocol multiple times and never had any trouble.
He called his wife before going to sleep for the night in preparation for his early morning delivery.
A short time later he found himself awakened and upset, but things were about to get even worse for Spellings.
The TTR representative issued him a $3,600 bill to remove the boot and informed him if he chose not to promptly pay the fee, he would face an $8,000 towing and impound recovery charge.
TTR gave him until 2:45 a.m. before his rig would be towed, Spellings told Transportation Nation Network (TNN).
Sensing some uneasiness in the situation, Spellings attempted to speak with another trucker whose flatbed rig was also booted.
However, Spellings says he was warned by TTR not to speak to the other driver.
According to Spellings, the TTR representatives on site — two men named Willie and Quinn — kept the two truckers separated.
Additionally, Spellings was told he was “not allowed” to take photos of the boot.
Stunned by the situation, Spellings immediately picked up the phone and called his dispatcher.
Lisa Williams, who has been a dispatcher at Downey Trucking since 2003, answered the early morning call.
“Excuse me? What do you mean?” Williams responded to Spellings, as he informed her of the situation.
She asked to speak with Willie and Quinn and engaged them in a conversation.
“In times like this, you’re seriously going to do this?” she asked the men.
That’s when she says they became “belligerent” and threatened the incident was going to cost the company even more if she didn’t swiftly cooperate.
Eventually, the TTR representatives told Williams if she paid immediately, they would lower the removal fee to $3,300.
So she did.
“She did what she felt was right,” Jim Downey, owner of Downey Trucking told TNN.
Downey says he called TTR on Thursday morning after becoming aware of the situation, and was able to get the owner, Quinn, on the phone.
“I don’t even want to tell you what he said, but it started with f-u,” Downey recalled.
Downey was so upset about the incident that he posted about it on social media and even contacted his local U.S. congressman.
TNN also contacted TTR on Thursday and spoke to a man who only wanted to be identified as Marcus.
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According to Marcus, two big rigs got the boot during the course of the night… Spellings’s rig, and a flatbed rig.
Marcus told TNN the rigs were “parked illegally” and that Spellings “wasn’t hauling anything important — not food, not water, not medical supplies — just general freight.”
TTR patrols the lot intensively because that Walmart location has a “problem with drugs and prostitution,” Marcus claimed.
Marcus even accused Spellings of being intoxicated at the time.
“The truck smelled like a lot of beer and liquor,” he asserted to TNN.
“No, no, no… ain’t no way, no, no, no,” Spellings said in response to the accusation. “I don’t drink. I have never touched drugs in my life. I will take 500 drugs tests… ain’t no way!”
Spellings said such allegations are “defamation” and makes an already upsetting situation even more infuriating.
When TNN informed Williams and Downey about Marcus’s accusations against Spellings, both of them laughed at the notion.
Additionally, Spellings and Williams both confirmed there was no mention of drugs or alcohol during the incident.
In fact, Spellings and Williams both said Marcus was not even at the site.
Downey also confirmed nothing of the sort was mentioned in his communications with TTR either.
“I still drive [a truck],” Downey commented. “That’s why I take it so personally. Truckers are the first ones that come to help you.”
According to Spellings, the “icing on the cake” moment came after the payment to remove the boot was made.
He says a TTR representative climbed up on the driver’s side steps and said, “How much time do you have before the clock resets? I will give you that much time and we won’t come back and bother you.”
“I ain’t taking that risk,” Spellings answered back.
Upon further reflection on the entire ordeal, Spellings says incidents like these are unfortunately sometimes part of the job.
“That’s the way truck drivers get treated at places.”
However, Spellings was quick to show appreciation for Williams and Downey for the way they handled the situation.
“This is the best company I’ve ever worked for,” he stated. “I have one hell of a dispatch crew and one hell of an owner.”