Friday, April 18, 2008

What is with Towing Companies?

I've made a huge mistake!

I'm house sitting for a friend/co-worker in Ballard this week so I have my car and am enjoying the local fare as much as possible. After coming back to Ballard from a friends on Wednesday night I parked and went to bed.
Well it turns out that I completely missed the fact that the reason the spot I parked in was so prime was because I had completely blocked someones driveway. :( sad panda. When I thought of the person coming out to head off to work Thursday morning only to find someone had completely blocked your driveway. I would have been upset.
So I was not upset by the fact that my car had been towed, I would have done the same thing, and the fact of the matter was, I was completely in the wrong. So I called Laura to tell her I was going to be late and she came down to pick me up and take me to the place where my car was being held. Such a nice girlfriend isn't she?
I call up the towing place to make sure that they do indeed have my vehicle and the lady is really short with me. She made sure that I knew that it would cost me $120, then asked if that was ok? Well if it is or is not ok, I still owe the money so what is the point of asking? Through her tone and phone posture she made me feel like I was scum
When I got to the lot the lady I worked with there was not much better. She again made sure by asking several times "I'm going to charge this $120 to your credit card now, is that ok?" and giving me basically the cold shoulder. It was a bit surreal, I mean I admit that I had parked illegally, but I'm hardly a habitual offender, and if I had known that where I was parking was someones driveway I definitely would NEVER have considered parking there. Also it was not like the lady was representing the home owner who's driveway I was blocking, nor was she representing the city. In fact I had in no way wronged her or her company, in contrast I had given them some business that they likely would not have had otherwise. She should be grateful for having to talk to me, because it means she gets to keep her job.
I was in no way rude, or alarmed that I had to shell out the unexpected cash, like I said, I recognized that I had made a mistake and was willing to pay what was required to get it taken care of. It was almost as if the clerk was expecting a scene and was doing everything to diffuse a sittuation that was non-existent.
After the 3rd or so successful attempt at securing my approval for charging me the money, and as she was running my card she drops almost anecdotally "This does not take care of your obligation to pay the fine to the City of Seattle, you still owe them for the parking ticket." If I had not previously had my vehicle towed this would have taken me completely by surprise. It was very nice of her to wait till the last possible minute to tell me the bad news. What is with the fucking passive aggressive behavior.
All this does is confirm every single encounter I have ever had with a towing company. THEY SUCK! They are late, they provide about the worst service consistently of any service industry I have every experienced. It is an insurmountable problem unfortunately, as the service you recieve from them is not generally one where you have much choice in the matter. In this sittuation I didn't get to choose who towed me, but even if your car breaks down, you are pretty much limited as to who you can call. They have you over a barrel and they take advantage of you to the fullest extent possible.
I remember one time a friend and I had broken down. We were on the side of the road and called a tow truck from someones home phone that lived nearby (before cell phones). They said they would be there in like an hour. Two hours later we called back, they said they would be there in a half hour. Another hour later and we called back, they said they would be there as soon as they could. Another half an hour and the guy finally arrived. He said he couldn't tow us unless we could pay upfront. My friend had only recently opened a new checking account so did not have pre-printed checks. I was not prepared and had no form of payment on us (we were fucking 16... you don't always plan for shelling out an extra $200 when you drive to the store). The short of it was after waiting for him for like 4 hours he refused to tow us and we had to call someone to pick us up and we left the car. The driver was a serious ASS and offered no sympathy to two kids who were stuck on the side of the road unprepared for the cold night. This was one of my first experiences with a towing company and they have never succeeded in reversing my low expectation
I guess that is what we get for being criminals