Taken by the towing Gestapo

Taken by the towing Gestapo

Let’s hash out a common frustration students have: parking. Whether it’s here on campus or at our apartment complexes, there just never seems to be enough space for everyone. I’m sure most of us have been earnestly trying to dodge paying for a parking pass at school or stay in a visitor spot in Provo for longer than 30 minutes—both of which I’m guilty of. I’d like to take a moment to relate my experience with parking. Most of you will be able to relate as well.

Last week I was at a certain large apartment complex in Provo near Seven Peaks. Because I don’t live there I parked in the 30-minute visitor spot. Since I could see my car from the window of the apartment I was in, I felt at ease with where I was parked and was sure I wouldn’t get the dreaded boot.

After 15 minutes of my car being there, a university towing official chalked my tire to show I had been there his first go around. Still, I wasn’t nervous. Five minutes passed, and I decided it best to go down and retrieve my car.

To my surprise, I was met by the same university towing rep placing a boot on my car. When I asked why I was receiving a boot since I had not been there longer than 30 minutes, I got the infamous vague and off-putting response. Despite my best efforts of using logic and reason with the parking enforcement officer, I was booted.

The reason I tell this story is because it’s unfortunately all too common, and I’m sure many of you have even worse stories. With a Google search of one of the prominent towing companies in the valley, I had over 2 million results come up in .33 seconds. I glanced at everything from their official website to Facebook groups where victims shared their horror stories with fellow students. There was no shortage of stories, photos, and videos from students and visitors.

In fact, in the search page Google compiled all of the ratings they’ve received from their users, they were given a whopping score of 1.4 stars out of five. Many reviews were complaints about how corrupt and predatory these tow truck drivers can be.

Surprisingly the situation was so bad Provo Mayor John Curtis addressed the issue in a city council work meeting. In his blog post on towing in Provo, he received over 500 comments on his blog and at least one hundred emails regarding the issue.

I’m not sure the mayor was expecting that kind of response from the community. In reflection, what result have we seen from that city council work meeting held last fall? I personally have seen none.

Many people use the counter-argument that these apartment complexes are private property, and the owners can enforce parking how they desire. While I agree that there isn’t much to be done on private property, if there are 500+ comments on the mayor’s blog, and countless stories from students, credible news sources and popular review sites, can this really not be a problem?

I believe there are many legitimate stories where completely predatory towing measures have been executed and thousands of dollars collected by these unjust towing companies ‘lurking around the corner.’

I couldn’t find any follow-up posts from the mayor letting the public know the outcome of these meetings or what can be done. I have seen no change and believe some of these companies continue billing students and other residents with useless and unjust fees.

We need to take another look at this issue. This is a call to action. We need to know what is going on and how we can keep these predatory towing companies be more honest.

 

Blake McClary is a rising senior at Utah Valley University studying Marketing and Spanish. He currently serves at the Art Director of the UVU Review and the VP of Marketing for the Student Alumni Association. Upon graduation, Blake hopes to move on to work for a prominent marketing agency. In his free time he enjoys photography, the outdoors, and all things Hipster.

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