Vehicle owners cry foul after more than 100 residents are towed - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Vehicle owners cry foul after more than 100 residents are towed

When your car is towed, before you open up your wallet, there are some things you need to know before you end up getting ripped off. (Source: WAVE 3 News) When your car is towed, before you open up your wallet, there are some things you need to know before you end up getting ripped off. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
This sign states cars can be towed for not following regulations, such as backing into parking spots. (Source: WAVE 3 News) This sign states cars can be towed for not following regulations, such as backing into parking spots. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Residents called 311 to file complaints against LRTF. The company was cited several times. (Source: WAVE 3 News) Residents called 311 to file complaints against LRTF. The company was cited several times. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Cheryl Baker (Source: WAVE 3 News) Cheryl Baker (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The towing of a vehicle can sometimes include people being upset, yelling about their cars and the big charges to get them back.

But before you open up your wallet, there are some things you need to know before you end up getting ripped off.

For Cheryl Baker, it started quietly one morning.

"My son said, well everybody's ready, we're getting ready to leave, and he went out the door and came back in and said mommy, your car is gone," she said. "And I was like what?"

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Baker told us her car was towed for backing into a parking spot. Her car was taken by Louisville Repossession Task Force or LRTF.

She says the price to get it back went from $175 to $215 because it was after business hours. And then when she went to pick up her car, she says she was charged $250.00.

There's just one problem with those fees, according to the Louisville's Codes and Regulations -- they're against the law.

"The ordinance does set the fees they can charge," Robert Kirchdorfer, the Director of Codes and Regulations said.

He stresses there's one number you need to remember: $138.00. That's the max a tow company can charge for a tow, according to the ordinance. They can only add $27 if they use a dolly and $25 for each additional day you don't pick up your car.

"Hopefully this will get the word out and people will know their rights," he said.

Falcon Crest Apartments is an Affordable Housing complex with 208 units. The complex has given LRTF permission to tow. Since last February, they've hauled off more than 100 vehicles.

We went to Falcon Crest to ask, "Why so many?"

"Looking around at the units, doesn't that seem excessive to you?" we asked. 

"Not if they're not following the policy," a woman in the complex's office told us.

Their corporate office added they had to tighten up on their parking policy because of the number of violations.

Baker believes she should have at least gotten a notice from the complex warning her they would tow for backing into spots. She and her neighbors got fed up.

They started calling 311, placing complaint after complaint against LRTF for things like overcharging and for being unreachable. The company now has more complaints than any other.  

"They tow people nighttime, anytime they tow the cars," another Falcon Crest Apartments resident Mimy Deng told us.

The city's Alcohol Beverage Control officers handle these complaints. 

They've now cited LRTF three times for overcharging customers, not having their address and fees on their signs at Falcon Crest, and for not having a 24 hour on call service.

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The owner, Chuck Mullins, acknowledged he's been cited before, but told us he is following the parking rules. He gave us videos of encounters with Falcon Crest Residents shouting during a tow. He says the videos show that his drivers are the ones at risk.

Mullins also disputes Baker's story, claiming the charges she described don't make any sense.  But, he added, he'll refund her money if she proves him wrong.

Meanwhile, Baker's trying to do exactly that in court.

"I want everybody to know that you can do something about it when people take advantage of you," she told us.

Mullins says if it's true that one of his drivers overcharged Baker, he will give her money back. He did say he takes a picture of every vehicle he tows from Falcon Crest.

Mullins says the city doesn't take into consideration how dangerous the job is and the fees they charge are nowhere near enough to mitigate the risk.

The Falcon Crest apartment complex was also cited by ABC Officers for not having the proper tow signs.

If you do feel you have been overcharged during a tow, you can call 311 to place a complaint.

UPDATE:
Wednesday morning, after the story aired, Mullins reached out to WAVE 3 News and provided a picture of one of the tow signs at Falcon Crest which shows the information required by the city ordinance written in. He also presented another receipt which he says shows Baker was charged a different amount which was in the amount allotted by the ordinance. The vehicle behind Mullins in this clip does not belong to Mullins, but rather another company not involved with LRTF.

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