Corner Parking Lot Accused of Ripping Off Customers
Business owners say the way tow trucks are scooping up cars at a parking lot in Charlottesville is unfair and it's hurting business.
A business owner says customers are getting ripped off constantly and the problem got so bad, he recently alerted city council.
David Grubbs says the owner of this parking lot on Elliewood Avenue owes him some cash and an apology. Two Saturdays ago, Grubbs mistakenly put his $2.25 parking receipt in his pocket, instead of on the dashboard. A tow truck wasn't far behind.
"The original cost was $125," he said. "He said because it wasn't on the dashboard, he was going to tow my car."
Grubbs was walking out the Heartwood bookstore back to his car, when he noticed it was about to be towed away. Even after he showed his ticket, he still had to pay.
"It's infuriating. I don't know how much closer to extortion we can get," Grubbs said.
Once police got involved, the fine was lowered to $25. Heartwood Books owner Paul Collinge said, "I thought something needed to be done."
Collinge says the ticket machine that replaced a live parking attendant last year has been nothing but a hassle. He said, "It affects the business, it affects people going to the university, it affects people going to the hospital, it affects tourists, and it's just a nasty thing to be around."
This latest incident sent Collinge marching down to city hall. He wants to make sure Piedmont Virginia Parking Company can't have a vehicle towed if the driver showed proof they paid. He is also upset about that automated machine that doesn't give change.
"I've talked to people who have put $5, $10, $20 in that machine, intending to get an hour of parking and instead the machine keeps the money," said Collinge.
Grubbs says the facts speak for themselves. "The time had not expired on my ticket," he said. "I still had time left on it. I still had the ticket. I showed it to the man. He said it was irrelevant."
Piedmont Virginia Parking Company had no comment. Meanwhile, Collier's Towing says they only tow vehicles if parked cars are an hour past the time limit.
As for the city, we're told staff is looking into it. Vice Mayor Kristin Szakos says at the very least, they should be able to encourage Piedmont Virginia Parking Company to be a little more lenient.
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Derick Waller joined the NBC 29 news team in August, 2010. Prior to this, Derick graduated with degrees in both broadcast journalism and political science from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. Email/Follow on Twitter/ Full Story