KCBD Investigates: Lubbock towing company may be forced to issue refunds

Published: Jan. 6, 2014 at 10:59 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 7, 2014 at 3:20 AM CST
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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Last month, KCBD told you about a Lubbock towing company that had been removing vehicles at the National Flea Market on Clovis Road.

We received call after call from shoppers saying they were wrongfully towed. However, when we spoke to the company, West Texas Lender Support, they said every tow they made was fair.

"For each and every car that comes through, nine out of the 10 threaten to sue us, but we have the proof," W.T.L.S. compliance manager, Leigh Ann Church told us in November.

But now, a KCBD investigation has uncovered a mistake made by the company who charged shippers nearly $300 to get their vehicles back. We sat down with Chris Bell, an investigator with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.

"A towing company has to have their signs properly displayed and the regulations are extremely specific about how big the sign has to be, how it has to be worded, even the height," Bell said.

While there may be multiple signs posted at the entrances and even inside the lot, they didn't appear to be at the proper height, a requirement set by TDLR to ensure visibility.

"Where the bottom edge is no lower than five feet from the ground and no higher than eight feet above the ground, so that's extremely specific," Bell said.

So we measured the sign for ourselves. It came in at just over three feet, nearly two feet under the state requirement. When we informed West Texas Lender Support of their mistake, they told us the sign would be raised immediately, which was confirmed Monday afternoon.

However, Bell tells us, a small mistake like this, could possibly mean a refund for those who were towed before it was corrected.

"There are lots of requirements that these tow companies have to meet, if not, they're in violation," Bell says.

Bell tells us individuals have two options. If the tow took place in the past 14 days, they can take their complaint to any county Justice of the Peace.

"You can file a small claims complaint for the money you've been wrongfully charged. Take the evidence and it's going to be your job to prove the sign wasn't where it was supposed to be," Bell said.

However, if the tow fell prior to that two week window, a complaint can be filed with TDLR.

"We complete our investigation. We turn it over to the TDLR prosecutors and they make the decision at that point do we have enough evidence to go forward," Bell said.

After TDLR completes their investigation, they can do one of four things if they decide to take action. The tow company can be issued a fine, sanctions can be placed against them, they can be required to issue a refund or they can be shut down all together.

Monday morning, West Texas Lender Support filed an injunction against KCBD, trying to prevent the story from airing. A judge denied their request.

To file a complaint with TDLR visit https://www.tdlr.texas.gov/Complaints/

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