SPEAK OUT: Is Towing from County Parking Lots a Problem?

ABC7 highlights the issue of towing in Montgomery County.

With Montgomery County feeling the parking crunch, have you been towed after parking in a lot and “walking off” to a different establishment? Or worse, have you seen your car unfairly towed from the lot of the business in which you were shopping?

ABC7 recently highlighted the issue of towing in Montgomery County—30,000 cars last year alone, according to ABC7—and spoke with a family who says their car was unfairly towed. Towing is the No. 1 complaint fielded by the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection, according to the report.

“We really are in crisis mode in Montgomery County with respect to non-consensual towing,” Eric Friedman, Office of Consumer Protection director, told ABC7. “They’re just hiding, waiting for someone to walk away or do something wrong, then they swoop in like a hawk and get their car.”

But enforcing parking policies can provide a safeguard for the business community, merchants say. 

Federal laws complicate the problem, and county officials talked with U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen last month about finding solutions, the Gazette reported in May.

Do you think towing in Montgomery County is an issue, and if so, what should be done about it? Has your car been towed? Tell us in the comments.

Jessica Marie Zowd June 11, 2012 at 07:34 PM
I parked outside of a cvs ( Hillendale) to run in and pick up an already filled prescription. I have handicapped tags and my flashers on. There was no available handicapped parking available. As soon as I went into the store the tow truck swopped in and hooked up my car with my purse and cell phone sitting on the passenger seat clearly visible. Upon exiting CVS a few people told me her sped up to the car hooked it and took off. He took off immediately after I got out so I was told. He also did not finish hooking the vehicle up before speeding off which could have caused damage to my vehicle. I had no idea what to do. No Purse, no phone nothing. I finally found out which company took my car. I found transportation to the tow yard and was informed I had to pay the exact amount in cash which was only 2 hours later mind you. I got so anxious I needed my inhaler which was in my purse, which they would not allow mw to retrieve. So my money, my id, my inhaler etc are all locked behind there fence and they basically did not care if I passed out or fainted. After these sneaky tactics these people demanded $200 from me. Living on unemployment at the time this was a severe hardship.
Timothy June 11, 2012 at 09:55 PM
You parked your car in a FIRE LANE because there wasn't any empty handicapped parking close to the CVS? Please don't expect any sympathy from me. (And exactly how did you get your Rx with no money or ID?)You were endangering other people's lives and I hope you learned a lesson. May I suggest you have your Rx filled at a pharmacy with a drive-thru. Take responsibility for your own actions.
ED June 11, 2012 at 11:52 PM
According to Maryland Consumer Affairs, your car can not be towed unless there is a sign stating that it will be towed with the name of the towing company and phone number displayed on the sign. I've gotten a refund from a tow company because there was no sign. There are many "tow zones" in Wheaton because the property owner's actually own the land (spaces) in front of their businesses. I really can't blame these businesses for towing cars that are not visiting their business - those spaces are complimentary spaces for their business and the land owner's are (or should be) paying property taxes on them. I've heard that Westfield Wheaton Mall tows cars (other than the Macy's parking garage), although I don't recall seeing any signs posted.
Sean June 12, 2012 at 12:55 AM
I understand why owners want to protect spaces, but what happens if you visit more than one store in the same shopping center? People have been towed for something that we should be encouraging. There are definately solutions if all Wheaton businesses can agree that fixing the problem will improve the shopping and dining experience for everyone. Maybe there should be a time limit (20 / 30 minutes) and no walk-offs from the shopping center during the day. At this point, this would even work for restaurants, as most of them are open for dinner only. In that case, since most other businesses are closed by 7pm, all spaces could be open for a longer period, thereby improving the parking situation for diners. In fact, all businesses should be okay with people using their spaces after their business closes for the evening.
Kris Knutson July 26, 2012 at 02:46 PM
My scooter was towed as an abandoned vehicle four days after I reported it stolen!!! The towing company who supposedly was working for the police department should have looked up the vehicle number to see that it was stolen, and the police should have contacted me to tell me where it was (1/2 mile from my house). Instead, they towed it up to Gaithersburg (14 miles from my house) and I had to pay the towing fee. I am trying to work thru the Better Business Bureau to get a refund of the fee.


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