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‘Predatory’ towing complaints spark changes

The Charlotte City Council has OK’d changes to its towing laws in response to complaints about “predatory” towing.

The council approved the changes Monday after gripes from the public that towing companies, among other things, would tow away a vehicle even if the owner returned in time to discover the towing in process.

Among other things, the changes require:

• Towing companies to release a vehicle if the owner interrupts the towing. If a vehicle has been towed and the owner needs an item from inside, the towing company will have to give it to them;

• companies to accept at least two major credit cards or a debit card in addition to cash; and

• storage facilities where vehicles have been towed to have someone to respond to calls at all hours so that a vehicle can be released to its owner within 45 minutes.

The new rules come after some businesses and motorists have complained that towing companies seem to stalk Charlotte parking lots, hauling away vehicles not long after they are parked even if the owner catches the towing company in the act and pleads to have their vehicle released.

Towing companies, though, have been critical of the changes, arguing that they give too much consideration to people who are parking in spaces reserved for other businesses.

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