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QLD Car Towed - Paid to Get It Back

Discussion in 'Traffic Law Forum' started by Gemmarama, 22 June 2015.

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  1. Gemmarama

    Gemmarama Member

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    I recently had my car towed - whilst I watched - from a parking lot which does have signage stating that it is private car parking (however, it is poorly lit at night). The tow truck drivers hooked up my car tired and were hoisting it on to the back of the tow truck when I realised what was happening and came outside to investigate.

    They claimed that they could not unhook the car once the wheels were locked in (or whatever they call it) and they then towed my car away. I was forced to pay $550 for the return of my car. They tried to slap an extra $110 on top, but somehow I managed to dispute the additional $110 and leave with my car. There seemed to be no signage anywhere stating the charges, how they were broken down and what any additional charges might be.

    The car park is for an office block and is never used at night time - so it is not as though I was blocking a driveway or an emergency exit/entrance. In addition, the tow truck drivers pushed over a passerby whilst going about their business as this passerby couldn't hear their directions due to running with earphones in. I can't find any legislation on towing cars parked on private property. Appreciate your help!
     
    Hayden likes this.
  2. Ozwarlock67

    Ozwarlock67 Well-Known Member

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    I'd get legal advice....and fast!! A lot of these car park operators are crooks and it sounds like what happened to you borders on car theft and extortion. Frankly I would have called the police on the spot and said your car was being stolen.
     
    Hayden likes this.
  3. BertyBees

    BertyBees Member

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    The same thing happened to me, it was in-front of an empty office block that was for lease with no warning signage at all. The company was Cactus Towing in Kedron, Brisbane.

    I got charged the full 660 (apparently an extra 110 slammed on top because it was after hours at 5:40 pm). He further tried to refuse entry to the car with were the licence and credit card was stored and said i wasn't allowed to do anything as it was 'private property' (even though it is a business for which i was invited into prior).

    I'm fairly well versed in a number of legal matters and am in the process of getting further legal advice. I'm not familiar with any of the Tow Truck Acts and Regulations of Queensland however as a private operators they apparently don't fall under these rules (legal loops holes are fantastic).

    Saying that, they did breach a number of other QLD Fair Trade issues according to a solicitor and I have been in contact with the owners of the private property (something I would suggest you do) and discussed the situation with them as they were unaware that this was happening. Without the approval of the property owners and verification of all documentation from the towing company prior to the tow I do know that they can be caught on a breach of the Tow Truck Acts and Regulation (you will have to check this with your state legislation). If it helps, I will find out more about this as the legal proceedings begin but I do have a lot of evidence on the matter (voice recording of the whole fiasco, photographs of 'signage' and their terms and condition, the truck they used to tow, damage to the vehicle - if any, the towing licence information, etc... All of which I accumulated while invited onto their place of business i.e. not private property at the time).

    I will say on a more personal note that I would never go to these sort of extremes over a mere 660, however I did try and discuss with the tow truck driver [Moderator redacted personal name - Community Guidelines] about the issue and as a smaller female he became very very aggressive and threatening (once I was locked into his premises) and I even had to pocket dial 000 as I was very scared for my safety. This will be a completely different legal proceeding as my evidence supports the harassment and is a police issue rather than a state legislative one.

    These sort of companies are just so horrible and out of place in Australia and it is such an obvious hustle and shake down run by thugs who use bully tactics to scare away any potential consequences. This is definitely one loops hole I will be lobbying to government as vehemently as I can to close.

    I hope if anyone else has to deal with these people, please be prepared.
     
    JohnnyChristo, muz28, Gutted and 3 others like this.
  4. LALY

    LALY Member

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    Same thing happened to me but without going into the fine details about my case, there is a matter that really stuck with me -
    Firstly: I did not receive a demand other than the poster at the parking lot, and my phone call to the number on the poster spelled out the amount which I needed to pay to access the vehicle, I withdrew the amount from an ATM and took a cab to the destination given to me, this place has no identifying signage on the exterior and can rival Fort Knox in Security with cameras, double doors, with only one person allowed access at a time, protective shields separating customer from operator etc. I proceeded to make payment but also wanted to write on the receipt "under duress" he said If I did that the vehicle would not be given to me and requested that I remove the comment from the receipt beside the signature. This is coercion.
    The receipt identifies the charge as "Towing charge" there is absolutely no mention of illegal park, private property misuse, nothing!
    I am of the opinion that if I called 5 towing companies and asked them to collect my vehicle and move it the same distance as this other people did, not one of their costs would come anywhere close to the $550 charged.
    It may be that a comment such as "paid under duress" would have given me the way out! maybe under the Fair Trading Act the charge would have to conform with industry standard? based on the receipt?
    I don't know, I'm not a lawyer, and I also question the business tactics used of coercion and stripping me of my legal rights.
     
  5. Gemmarama

    Gemmarama Member

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    Laly your experience sounds almost identical to mine - I believe that the towing company in charge of my vehicle may have also been Biker Gang members and I certainly did not feel safe handing over my wad of cash, nor did I feel as though any of the proceedings were legal - but these are just my feelings.

    I understand that there is some legislation detailing how much towing companies can charge to tow you a certain distance, but it seems that there are no laws for removing your vehicle if you are illegally parked. I sought legal advice through a community legal aid centre and was told to write to the company who's building you were parked at and let them know about the poor business tactics of the towing company they employ (probably via the security company). I feel that the issue is worth public petition. If you want to band together, I would be up for it. Otherwise, best of luck with your pursuit of justice.
     
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  6. LALY

    LALY Member

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    Hi Gemmarama,
    Thank you for your response. Unfortunately for you, me and so many others, we are not granted the same rights as even our most common of criminals, I dare say that even one caught in the act is shown more respect and restraint by our police than we were. I am not in a financial position at present to take this matter on board through proper legal channels, but I know that if I were these thugs would get their day in court. It's not about the financial cost to me.

    I am of the opinion as you are that this issue is worthy of public petition and I also am up for it.
    I have done a bit of research into the matter, and if my understanding is correct I think the area of Law would be the "Body Corporate" by-laws. This is such a "grey" area of law that it would dwarf "fifty shades of grey" many times over. I say this because these lots are not necessarily "owned" as such by the proprietor but rather theirs under license to use for a specific function, in this case parking. That is why too often enough there are no boundary controls (i.e. fences, inaccessible to public etc) and the Licensed proprietor cannot build or use this property for any other use other than parking lots for their staff or patrons.? I'm not a lawyer, far from it, but this makes sense to me.

    These businesses (towers) are contracted by the body corporate, they are listed as "private companies" but are protected under the umbrella of "Body Corporate" bi laws. If I am correct this needs review, any other private company operating outside as most do, would be under serious scrutiny and would have to have a live-in legal team to process the load of charges against it and even then bodies like Fair Trade Commission, ASIC, and ACCC would make their daily operations unbearable.

    Regardless of laws, justice, or the emotional bitter bullet I had to bite, I firmly believe this kind of thuggery in our communities is reprehensible, and a bright light should be shone on it. If our most heinous criminals are afforded decency and respect, I also should. This is a core belief of every Australian.
     
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  7. LALY

    LALY Member

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    Hi BertyBees,
    I'm interested to know if your lawyer ever mentioned to you if this case fell under the "Body Corporate" bi-laws?

    Please read my message below to Gemmarama, I suspect lawyers would want to avoid this area of law at all costs, but it seems a very convenient way of both parties (owner and contractors) to make a very nice little revenue at every victims expense. Less amounts have been charged for more serious offences. but you already know that!
     
    Paul Hurrell and Hayden like this.
  8. Issy

    Issy Member

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    Hi Guys,

    I am currently experiencing almost exactly the same thing. I had my car towed last night at West End in Brisbane as I was parked (very briefly) in front of an office block after business hours around 8.30/9pm with very poorly lit signage. I phoned the tow truck company and they told me that they had only just closed for the night - I explained that I had a boot full of groceries and really needed my car to get to my exam in the morning, but he replied 'not my problem love' and hung up.

    I am a full-time university student without two pennies to rub together, but I agree that in this circumstance it is not only the exorbitant amount of money these crooks charge for nothing short of car theft, but more about the intimidation and bullying practices of these 'companies'. I am a 22-year-old petite, blonde, young woman and I am terrified about going to collect my car this evening - even more so after reading this forum. I have no man that can come with me for my protection and think it is sick and archaic that I should even have to bring a 'bodyguard' with me.

    BertyBee your story horrifies me and I would love to hear how your case has turned out, as I am wanting to pursue legal help myself.

    Your comment:

    "These sort of companies are just so horrible and out of place in Australia and it is such an obvious hustle and shake down run by thugs who use bully tactics to scare away any potential consequences."

    articulates this issue perfectly and I would definitely be on board for a petitioning against these criminals. They are nothing but uneducated bottom-feeders who prey on young women. I bet they don't go around towing big hotted up dual cab utes late at night!

    This is just so wrong and I feel completely violated.

    Any help for my visit to get my car later tonight would be greatly appreciated!!!!!
     
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  9. Hayden

    Hayden Member

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    Hi everyone,

    I am responding to this thread in my own personal capacity. Your stories above sound very similar to a situation that occurred to me over the weekend at a Car Park in Brisbane. I would not at all be surprised if we are all talking about the same business.

    I consider the conduct of this business to be unlawful. Amongst other things, I think that the charges imposed constitute an unlawful contractual penalty under the penalties doctrine. Class actions for the imposition of unlawful contractual penalties are becoming much more common. I'd like to present a united cause of action. There may also be statutory grounds under the Competition and Consumer Act and room to lodge a complaint with the appropriate regulator.

    I would be very happy to provide you with some further information in relation to a potential claim. It will also enable us to quickly determine if this is the same business we are all talking about. The more plaintiffs we can join to the cause of action, the stronger we will be, and the bigger threat our claim will be.

    As I said, I think these businesses are operating unlawfully and I would like to see that formally determined.

    Kind regards
     
  10. Hayden

    Hayden Member

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    I am not personally identifying any business. The point I was trying to make is that I am a solicitor and was personally impacted by a business that sounds like the same as that mentioned by others above.

    I'd like to jointly take action with others affected. So I can give more information, please reply direct below
     
    JohnnyChristo, Scrooge, muz28 and 3 others like this.

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