Holiday shopping madness is just around the corner, and before we know it, we'll find ourselves battling to find the perfect parking spot. However, full parking lots come with the threat of being towed.
Our investigation into the truths of towing began nearly two months ago after our newsroom received multiple reports of unfair towing going on at the National Flea Market on Clovis Road.
Fred Silva is still reeling from having to pay nearly $300 he says he had to hand over to get his car back.
"I'm angry because we were parking right. We're still considered poor people and we don't even make $300 sometimes in a week," Silva said.
Over the past two months Silva and dozens of others have been towed while shopping at the National Flea Market. So we staked it out one Sunday afternoon to see for ourselves. Our cameras caught multiple vehicles being hauled off in just over an hour.
"When I was there, in less than 30 minutes, there were about eight cars and a girl was crying because she didn't have the money," Silva said.
Because we were parked outside, we weren't able to see why these cars were being towed, so we sat down with West Texas Lenders Support, the company hired by the flea market to clean up their lot. Leighann Church is the company's Compliance Manager.
"There was a lot of illegal parking. People weren't able to drive and get their vehicles through. It's just a mess," Church said.
Church says their services have fixed the flea market's parking problems.
"20 to 30 cars (were towed) when we began the first weekend, we were pulling in so many. Now it's one to five a weekend," Church said.
Church says businesses all across the Hub City are hiring tow companies to patrol their lots.
"They make nothing off of it, it's all us. We do our work and they're satisfied with it," Church said.
After hearing the reports and seeing so many cars coming out of the lot, we had to ask what leads to a tow in the National Flea Market lot.
"Anybody that's not parked in a parking spot. If they are parked out on the hashed out areas and an area that's marked no parking. If they are fully double parked, where they're taking up two parking spots or are causing somebody else to not park properly," Church said.
Church says they have the photos to back up every vehicle they hook up and haul off.
"For each and every car that comes through, nine out of the 10 threaten to sue us, but we have the proof," Church said.
Here are some facts about towing you may not know. We sat down with Scott Bickel, who owns Red Raider Wrecker to get the low down on parking lot rules.
"If you come back to your car and the guy is currently hooking up your car, you can say stop and they have to give you your car back for free. If you catch the driver with your car already on the truck and ready to go, you can get your car back for a discounted rate of $125," Bickel said.
Signs must be posted at the entrance of the lot. You need to make sure your vehicle doesn't become the "unauthorized vehicle" mentioned on many signs.
"That's a broad term. It could be from parking over the line, parking out of the line just a little bit," Bickel said.
So when you slide into your spot this holiday season Church says to, "Get out, walk around your car, see that you're not inconveniencing somebody else, or in the way."
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