State legislators need regulate tow services

In last week’s issue we reported on a tow truck service that appears to be out of control.
The city is now investigating whether a Detroit tow service has the authority to tow cars that are parked in the CVS parking lot after the store closes. The tow company has three signs warning car owners that unless they have business at CVS, their cars will be towed.
The company has been pursuing that policy aggressively in recent weeks.
Even if this company is operating within the boundaries of legality, the whole situation doesn’t pass the smell test.
There have been accusations that the drivers of this company have threatened and intimidated car owners. One night there were five tow trucks lined up to haul away their bounty.
On top of that, the company demanded car owners to pay in cash — anywhere between $400 and $500 — to get their car back.
For a long time people have complained bitterly about the behavior and predatory practices of tow truck services in the area.
It is time the city and state legislators step up and take a closer look at how these companies operate. There is a need to regulate this industry.
And while we’re at it, the city ought to look into collecting income taxes from the tow truck drivers who are earning an income working here.
The folks at CVS headquarters also need to re-examine its policy on non-store customers using their parking lot. Parking is extremely tight in the city, and other businesses rely on these lots.
Be a good corporate neighbor, CVS, and take down those tow truck signs.

8 Responses to State legislators need regulate tow services

  1. Birdman

    May 18, 2018 at 12:17 pm

    You raise valid points.

    Perhaps the towing company should be registered (and taxed) by the City of Hamtramck. And/or the towing company should be a community based business.

    As far as cash payments are concerned, what’s wrong with Debit cards and credit cards with a 3% convenience fee (just like Hamtramck charges when you pay property taxes).

    Moreover, if cars are unlawfully parked on PRIVATE property, in ADDITION to the tow charges, the City should issue a parking citation.

    I can’t speak for CVS, only my private property.
    Morever, not sure what being a good corporate citizen has to do with unlawful tresspass on to private property.

    People should not enter on to the property of another without permission. Unless, it is an emergency.

    Gas, grass or A** — nobody rides for free.

  2. Roadman

    May 18, 2018 at 5:57 pm

    All towing companies in the State of Michigan are regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission under the Motor Carrier Act.

    Consumer complaints regarding towing company operations can be made to a regulatory division within the Michigan State Police at (517)284-3250.

    http://www.michigan.gov/ag/0,4534,7-359-81903_20942-335852–,00.html

  3. Stan Zelmanski

    May 18, 2018 at 11:11 pm

    According to their Facebook site, Breakthrough Towing’s basic tow rate was $75.00 with the first 10 miles free of charge to its customers in 2014.

    Their basic rate for an involuntary tow is $375 to recover an improperly parked car. However this rate can – and often does – exceed the $375 based upon hidden charges.

  4. Fatema Hossain

    May 19, 2018 at 4:15 pm

    Breakthough Towing LLC was sued in federal court by the American Automobile Association violations of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act and trademark infringement. AAA recovered a default judgment in 2014 with the key allegations surrounding Michael Dickerson, a Bellevile resident and Breakthrough’s owner, for purported unauthorized use of AAA’s emblem and holding out to the public an affiliation with AAA it did not have.

    Judge Borman entered a permanent injunction against the towing business as part of a default judgment that forbade future use of AAA identification as part of Breakthrough’s business operations.

    http://www.pacermonitor.com/public/case/166932/American_Automobile_Association_v_Dickerson

    http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCOURTS-mied-2_13-cv12275/content-detail.html

    http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCOURTS-mied_13-cv-12775/pdf/USCOURTS-mied-2_13-cv-12775-0.pdf

    The action was assigned to Judge Paul Borman and given case number 13-12775.

    Breakthough Towing never appeared to defend those allegations.

    It appears that Breakthrough Towing and its owner has been involved in significant amounts of court litigation.

  5. Fatema Hossain

    May 19, 2018 at 4:24 pm

    City Council should try to register towing operators that tow in Hamtramck.

  6. John Dory

    May 19, 2018 at 7:07 pm

    My research on Breakthrough Towing is that a number of motorists have contested the seizures of their vehicles in 36th District Court in Detroit and in many cases have obtained judgments against Breakthrough Towing to get their charges reimbursed by court order.

    As the posts above have indicated, the Attorney General has promoted a remedial scheme to address the reasonableness of a towing fee and to complain of improper conduct of a towing facility.

    I find disturbing posts on the Facebook site of Breakthrough Towing themselves that make reference to Breakthrough Towing’s operations in Hamtramck which were reported by a Lisa Emmons that contends that the Hamtramck Police, City Manager, and mayor herself was aware of breakthough’s shenanigans and did little to address this conduct.

    I think that Hamtramck’s current problems with Breakthrough are more attributable to the past complacency of city representatives rather than legislative deficiencies.

  7. Roadman

    May 21, 2018 at 1:21 am

    The customary rate for a voluntary tow in Metro Detroit is about $70.00 with a per mile fee of about $6.00 per mile after a grace period of about 2 to 10 miles is given.

    When cars are involuntarily towed the rate is usually inflated – as you can see with Breakthrough Towing.

    Breakthrough charges $200.00 per involuntary tow if the motorist is lucky enough to catch the tow driver before he takes off with the motorist’s towed vehicle.

    Few motorists actually go to court to contest these inflated rates.

    Municipal towing contractors who tow abandoned cars or vehicles seized during a criminal offense often impose inflated rates as well – since these auto owners likewise usually do not contest tow charges in court.

    Boulevard & Trumbull Towing has made huge amounts of revenue during its tenure as the exclusive towing contractor for Hamtramck from its involuntary tows and storage charges. There are some motorists who have had their vehicles stored at the Boulevard & Trumbull lot for weeks waiting to get a clearance from the seizing police official – and incurring daily storage charges.

    The City of Detroit has a towing rotation in place whereby several contractors share in tow jobs.

    Gasper Fiore, the longtime owner of Boulevard & Trumbull Towing, has had longstanding connections to local politicians in Hamtramck.

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