Photo by PoPville flickr user philliefan99
A little more than a month ago my parking and towing saga was profiled on PoPville. My car was wrongfully ticketed, then towed and stored by a private towing firm at the request of a contractor who apparently wasn’t satisfied with blocking off 60 feet of street parking – significantly more than the 20 foot roll-off dumpster he was authorized for.
I documented the abuse, complete with photos and measurements and got the $100 ticket dismissed in parking ticket court, which felt like the road to redemption was opening up before me.
Next, I filed a complaint with the DC Office of Risk Management, detailing the $220 in towing and storage fees I incurred after receiving a parking ticket that the city had subsequently dismissed, which was roundly rejected.
But thanks to advice from a PoPville poster, I found perhaps the one person in the DC gov’t capable of comprehending the disconnect between public action (faulty ticket issuance) and private fee acquisition, and the crevice that city residents fall into when the initiating event – the parking ticket – is found to have occurred in error.
And just yesterday the towing company hand delivered a refund check for $220.
No small claims court. No legal fees. No headaches. It pays to pursue grievances based on principle, no matter the sum in question.
Basically, this staffer oversees the city’s private towing contractors, and those contracts are more valuable to them than any one disputed ticket. Many thanks to popvart, who provided the essential guidance below.
popvart November 12, 2014 at 4:58 pm
I was faced with (and resolved) a nearly identical situation. First lesson: every relevant part of DC government is clueless and acts like this situation it is more rare than a talking unicorn. Second lesson: you must set aside all notions of fairness and law. Third lesson: litigation or threats of litigation should be a last resort. I contacted my city council member and Daniel Scott (who manages all things towing at DPW, including private tow companies). He has no authority to compel a towing company to return your money for towing fess from a dismissed ticket, but he did help convince the tower to give me back my money. Although adjudication services should reimburse you for towing fees related to a dismissed ticket (it is their fault after all) I’m pretty sure that would never happen (you can’t get blood from a stoned idiot). In your case, you might start with your city council member and Daniel Scott, and hopefully they will support your polite request to the contractor.”