Trucker Slammed With $5,000 Boot and Tow Charge, Owner Calls it “Scam, Extortion”
Charlotte N.C. – The hits keep on coming for truckers and trucking companies in Charlotte, NC, as area towing companies continue to feast on illegally parked big rigs.
Transportation Nation Network (TNN) first reported last month about two carriers forced to cough up $3,000+ after its big rigs were recently booted in Charlotte.
Jim Downey, owner of Auburn, KY-based Downey Trucking, had one of his tractor-trailers booted in a Walmart parking lot.
The towing company, Trust Towing and Recovery, demanded $3,500 to be paid within an hour or the towing and recovery charge would be $8,000.
If you missed it, read the full story HERE.
Downey filed a complaint with the North Carolina Attorney General’s office and TNN subsequently reported an investigation into price gouging and predatory towing within the city is ongoing.
Now add Cynthia Baker’s complaint to the growing list.
Baker, who is the owner of Clarksville, TN-based Ohio Valley Transport (OVT), tells TNN one of her owner operators was hit with a $5,000 boot, tow and recovery charge on the evening of April 6, 2020, by Carolina’s Towing.
The driver indicated parking was full at numerous local truck stops and so he parked in a Citgo gas station lot, located at 4500 Sunset Road in Charlotte.
Baker says she was awakened by a call from the driver at approximately 10:30 p.m. informing her his truck and trailer had been booted.
A representative of Carolina’s Towing was demanding $3,000 to have the boots removed.
“The truck was illegally parked and it was there for over 4 hours,” a representative of Carolina’s Towing told TNN this week.
The man, only identifying himself as “James,” said he is a “partner” in the towing business and that the truck driver should have paid better attention to the clearly marked signage.
“Truck drivers need to be more aware of where they park,” James said. “That’s just how it goes. When you break laws or ordinances you have to deal with those consequences.”
Baker disputes the driver had been parked there for four hours.
She indicated she spoke to the Carolina’s Towing representative and he warned if payment was not rendered within an hour, the towing and recovery charge could go as high as $10,000.
Since Carolina’s Towing does not accept credit cards, Baker said she was left scrambling to get EFS checks to cover the $3,000 charge.
Unfortunately, the EFS system flagged her account after the first $1,000 check which slowed the process down.
She instructed the driver to call the police, which she says he did.
Baker was hopeful an appeal to authorities would put an end to what she described as “extortion.”
“For someone to have total control of a driver’s truck which is his livelihood and his home, and then demand $5,000 in the middle of the night… it’s outright wrong,” she exclaimed.
Baker says she was told by the police officer, “I’m just here to keep the peace so it doesn’t get out of hand.”
As Baker and an operations manager at OVT worked to obtain the EFS checks, the towing company representative had enough and called for the tow truck.
The charge then escalated to $5,000.
Carolina’s Towing covered the cost to put the driver in a hotel for the night.
“The truck driver said he didn’t have any money, so we put him up in a hotel. We could have left him there,” James said to TNN.
The following day, Baker was finally able to get the EFS checks she needed to render payment.
While she acknowledges the lot was marked, she says the whole thing was “shady.”
“My driver was wrong and he should not have parked there, but I’m sorry, that’s not a $5,000 punishment,” she stated. “The fine should fit the crime.”
OVT is a small company and Baker says she can’t afford to take a $5,000 hit, especially during the COVID-19 recession.
“I run twelve trucks and right now freight has dropped. I’m trying to keep my drivers on the road and my employees paid.”
She says she intends to recoup the cost over time from the owner operator, but admits, “he is three payments behind on his truck.”
She also intends to file a complaint with North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein.
“I don’t want it to happen to someone else. I would like somebody to be able to stop it so this never happens again anywhere,” she commented.
During the course of our reporting, TNN has learned that a 2014 North Carolina Supreme Court decision prevents the state and municipalities from limiting what towing operators can charge on private property.
TNN has spoken with multiple area towing companies and each insist the prices being charged are simply the “market rate.”
TransportationNation.com will continue to monitor any new developments.