TAMPA, Florida – 10Investigates is helping more drivers get refunds from unfair tows.
Kim Webb & her daughter, Madi, reached out to 10News after they were towed out of a 717 Parking lot in Downtown Tampa, during the June 2 Ellie Golding concert. Except it was an attended lot – and Kim says she vividly remembers paying the attendant. Which made the rainy, search for the car all the more upsetting.
“To think back, we don’t even remember the concert now,” Kim said. “We only remember the ordeal after, which is really a shame.”
So instead of driving home to New Port Richey, the Webbs found a Yellow Cab driver to take them to the tow yard of Target Recovery in Seminole Heights. Kim said Target tried to charge her $180 to retrieve her vehicle, but she contested the $50 “gate fee” portion of the bill – which the company should not have ever assessed her – and she got her car back for $130.
ALSO READ: How do I get a towing refund?
The next morning, Kim started calling 717 Parking - to no avail. It wasn’t until she contacted 10Investigates – and we contacted 717 – that she heard back from the company.
While 717 declined numerous requests for comment from 10Investigates, the company offered a refund to the Webbs for the $130 tow.
“It was terrible,” Kim said of the experience. “I just kept calling and calling, and finally, thanks to a little help (from 10Investigates), they returned my call.”
She also filed complaints with the Hillsborough Co. Public Transportation Commission, but since a 717 employee phoned in the tow to the company’s official wrecker vendor, Target Recovery, and the eventual $130 bill did not include an improper “gate fee,” there was no violation.
But the PTC has been taking action against Target Recovery following a recent 10Investigates story on overcharging. Once again, the company’s owner, Kris Grau, refused 10Investigates’ interview requests.
“Your investigation catapulted this whole thing,” said PTC Executive Director Kyle Cockream, who has issued at least half a dozen citations to Target Recovery following a 30-day audit of its billing practices. And he says more might be on the way – both for Target and other companies now under audit.
“Now the word has permeated out,” Cockream said. “Talk about dropping a pebble into a lake and causing a ripple effect...I think several tow companies hear if they start treating consumers poorly, there’s going to be a level of accountability.”
6/27/16: 10Investigates busts more bad tow practices
6/2/16: Tampa advances drastic mesaure to fight DUI
6/1/16: Do International Plaza parking policies encourage DUI?
5/10/16: Tampa downplays Ybor towing troubles, withholds public records
5/5/16: Tow trucks overcharge, while law enforcement looks other way
4/26/16: Pasco approves anti-DUI towing ordinance
4/13/16: Another case of predatory towing in Tampa
3/29/16: Pinellas commissioners consider anti-towing ordinance
3/17/16: Tampa to crack down on predatory towing outside bars
2/25/16: Can Tampa Bay invent new ways to discourage DUIs?
2/24/16: Pasco now considering copying Tampa's ordinance
2/16/16: Hillsborough moves toward better tow laws
2/10/16: Pinellas officials want tow truck protections too
2/9/16: Refunds for tow victims, as Hillsborough eyes amnesty law
2/9/16: EDITORIAL: Other cities should copy Tampa
2/8/16: Tampa council calls for immediate tow fixes
2/7/16: Tow trucks penalizing drinkers who don't drive
1/25/16: Confronting predatory towing & how to get a refund if you're towed illegally
1/18/16: Failure to "move over" puts tow operators in danger