TAMPA, Florida – Often, the tow trucks that penalize you for even the smallest of rule violations aren’t held to the same standard, even when violating state laws.
In its continuing series exposing towing abuses, 10Investigates approached John Bangos, owner of John’s Towing, about a pattern of non-conforming signs and other law and ordinance violations.
Among the violations: signs that didn’t have state-mandated reflective lettering so they could be seen at night; charges that exceeded county maximums; a lack of signage on the tow lot so drivers knew where to pick up their vehicles; and an expired business license with the state.
ALSO READ: How do I get a towing refund?
Bangos told 10Investigates, during a lengthy interview on his property, that he did not know the business license had expired, but that he was working to address each of the other violations.
“I’ve been towing for 40 years,” Bangos said. “You were the first one to ever complain."
But Pinellas County's Consumer Protection department cited John’s Towing several times in the last five years – just not recently. But with hundreds of potentially-improper tows taking place because of bad signs, 10Investigates questioned why authorities in Pinellas and Pasco counties weren’t doing more.
The answer: because consumers don’t log complaints with the right agencies, and law enforcement seldom helps direct consumers there.
“We want consumers to let us know...if they've been wronged or overcharged a fee,” said Doug Templeton with Pinellas County’s Consumer Protection unit. "Complaints need to be reported to us so we can investigate them. If there's been a previous warning, we would (then) be able to cite the business for the violations."
So if you want to know if you may have been wrongly towed or overcharged, find out how to get a towing refund here. And if you have any questions, contact 10Investigates' Noah Pransky on Facebook or follow his updates on Twitter. Send your story tips confidentially to email@example.com.
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