Domestic Violence? Still Gonna Tow Your Car

Last week, I wrote about a bus driver who was fired for policy violations after aiding three police detectives who had car trouble during a fierce storm that had caused flash flooding in the NYC area.

The bus driver's treatment by company officials was disturbing, but kind blogging friend Miss Caitlin S. from Candyfloss and Persie provided me with a story about an incident from December 2008 with an even larger dose of injustice that had to be righted:

WILSONVILLE, Ore. (12/10/2008 AP) - Neither a bloody face nor a deputy's plea could stop a tow-truck driver from doing what he's paid to do.

The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office said a Wilsonville woman fled her apartment Monday night after getting assaulted by her boyfriend. With blood running down her face, she got in her car and sped across the parking lot to her grandmother's place, where she called 9-1-1.

The 25-year-old provided a statement to the responding sheriff's deputy and then stepped outside to find her car getting towed. The tow driver would not leave the car without making the woman pay a "drop fee."

"I explained to the tow driver that the woman was the victim of domestic violence," Deputy Wes Hall told The Oregonian newspaper. "I told him there was no place to park, so she left the car with its four-way flashers going, because she was trying to get away."

The deputy's arguments failed to persuade.

The driver, who works on commissions, was completely within his rights to tow the car or charge a drop fee to leave it, said Charles White, general operations manager for Retriever Towing. The amount the woman paid has not been disclosed, but White said the fees run as high as $160...

Yes, Mr. White, the driver was within his legal rights to tow the domestic violence victim's auto. You know the one she used to flee her attacker and call police as blood dripped down her face?

But Mr. White, sometimes there is a significant difference between what is legal and what is right.

And, doing what is within one's legal rights may not be good for business.


Guess what happened that day--in just a few short hours after this story was publicized?

WHAM.  Six hundred electronic complaints.

POW.  Dozens of irate phone callers.

SMASH. The loss of one towing contract and other customers vowing to evaluate their relationship with the company.

By that evening, the media reported that company officials had reversed their decision about the incident, refunded the victim's $165, and "pledged to make a $500 donation to Rafael House of Portland, a shelter for battered women and children."

We, the public, can make a difference in correcting injustices.

We may not be able to always rationalize with the culprits, but they certainly understand the real and potential loss of cash flow.

I am glad management at Retriever Towing decided to do what was right.

Thanks again to Miss Caitlin S. for the post idea.

Note: Again, this story happened back in 2008, but I thought it was still relevant to my point.


With the holiday weekend, I'll be back on Tuesday with my next post on the Nikki LaDue January case.

Happy Friday and Labor Day to everyone. 


Matthew MacNish said...

Many towing companies are just gangsters in overalls anyway.

julie fedderson said...

I think if more people realized the power of their voices, ridiculous things like this would happen less often.

My Husband's Watching TV... said...

Well I'm glad SOMETHING was done.

Langley Cornwell said...

What a story! At least the company reversed their decision, refunded the victim and made a donation.

secret agent woman said...

I'm glad they changed their actions, too, but the towing company did NOT decide to do what's right. They decided to do what was best for themselves financially. They still deserve to lose business.

Expat From Hell said...

I think it's a tribute to Cyberspace, as well. Groups like Angie's List keep some of those who take advantage of unsuspecting victims honest. Good for you to publicize this, as well. With all of your followers, you are the Johnny Appleseed of crime solvers! Kudos. EFH

Bob G. said...

I know for a fact that there ARE towing agencies that prowl the Bronx Thruway just WAITING for some poor soul to break down, so they can swoop in, tow the vehicle and then charge outlandish fees to return the vehicle.

You are correct.
There is a (huge) difference bewteen what is LEGAL and what is RIGHT (or just).

Good post and comments.

Stay safe out there.

Rachel Cotterill said...

It's good that they eventually did the right thing, but pretty sad that they could only see it via the bottom line :(

Tara said...

Fantastic. I love it - they deserved every angry word, and dropped customer, they received. Sure, they finally did the right thing, but not because it was the right thing to do - only to save their own a$$es, which, imo, doesn't make things better.

Momma Fargo said...

Ha. Justice finally prevailed. Now about that bus driver that lost his job?

Miss Caitlin S. said...

Thank you for giving more legitimacy to this! I was always appalled (as was everyone else who I talked about this with by the metaphorical water cooler) but I hadn't known the aftermath of the events, I'm so glad people's complaints made a difference!!!

Lisa said...

Never underestimate the power of pissed off people.