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Troubleshooters: Towing concerns mount

READ MORE: Troubleshooters: Towing concerns mount
If you've ever been towed, you know it's usually not a pleasant experience. Some folks who were recently towed from outside the Long Leaf Mall Gold's Gym have a particularly frustrating story. Not only were they paying customers, annoyed to be towed while they were working out, but when they went to pick up their cars from the towing company, the women got charged more than the men. The Long Leaf shopping complex is under construction, because a new Harris Teeter is being built. The parking lot where gym members normally park is gone. To get to the gym, you literally have to drive behind the strip mall, back to the loading zone. "It's amongst dumpsters, it's very dark, and there was a whole cluster of cars, just parked all in a line, as normally, because there aren't particularly slotted spaces given that are marked out, so I just parked within that area,” said Malanie Coefield who got towed. Coefield came out of her exercise class that night to find her Jeep Liberty was gone. She was one of several people who'd been towed that night alone. Melanie and a fellow unlucky gym member rode together to earl's wrecker service, to retrieve their cars. "First of all I was shocked that we were being charged $135. Shocked. Couldn't believe that it would be that much. Then I come to find out because several of us at Gold's have been towed, as many as 30 that we know of, different prices are being charged. And apparently the men are being charged around $100, and the women are being charged more.” Brett Waress was towed from the same lot and said at the time, there weren’t clear "No Parking” signs posted. He took pictures of the make-shift parking lot that night, to show just how confusing it was. It was so dark, it would be hard for anyone to see the few no parking warnings that were painted on the pavement. "The shadiness of towing people from an unmarked area that doesn't say if you park here you'll be towed, kind of goes hand in hand with the shadiness of having your car taken from you, you have to show up with cash, and then it seems like they just made up a number for me and made up a number for the women that were being towed,” Waress said. The city of Wilmington regulates how much people can be charged if their cars are towed without their permission. The maximum allowed rate is $100, with a few exceptions. If a car has 4-wheel drive, or it's emergency brake on, it has to be put on a dolly, which can cost 35 dollars more. But Melanie doesn't have 4-wheel drive, and said she didn't use her emergency brake that night. Her receipt doesn't say anything about having to be put on a dolly. In fact, her receipt is identical to Brett's, except for the price they were charged. WWAY spoke with Earl at Earl's Wrecker Service to find out what's going on. He assured us that his employees would never charge women, or any customers, for services that weren't provided. Earl thinks the receipts were simply marked improperly, and the women's cars must have had to be dollied. Regardless, Earl has agreed to refund the $35 up-charge since it's unclear what the women were charged for. He said his employees will be more meticulous with their paperwork from here on out. He also said if a car has to be dollied, his drivers will take pictures so it's clear why the additional charge was necessary.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.



Last night young lady is moving putting stuff in her car she go,s upstairs to gather more stuff to put in car came down from apt and her car is gone we been living in new providence apts for 15 months only seen one wrecker in here to get burned car out .now she parked at curb but 10 pm people moving in and out they park there for hrs doing the day not one wrecker has come by as a tennent you have the right to park there to get your stuff in or out there are no signs .pure blackmail they drive thru take what they want to make a dollar and then they say the manager gave them the right to do this well there liars and earls wrecker is disgraceful in the manner on trying to make a dollar greed is the driving factor for this kind of thievery earl your a POS

Earl's towing

Something needs to be done about Earl's Wrecking Service. This is my second time being towed. I was parked in a visitor spot at Campus Walk where a resident told me I could park. I was told by the workers there that the man in the tow truck sat and watched me and my friend walk off the property, "abandoning" my car. I do not care what he says, it makes me feel uncomfortable being a young female college student, to have a man sitting there watching us. I would not be surprised at all if they are targeting attractive females, because they have nothing better to do and having these girls show up to get their cars probably makes their day. Regardless, it should not be right for them to sit and basically "spy" on people in order to make $100 from college students who are probably all broke and trying to get an education so they can make their living. They need to find real jobs and stop taking money from people who are actually smart and trying to have careers, not just drive around in a tow truck all day stealing peoples cars.

Bad Business Ethics

So how about getting your car towed and they break a shift cable on it, replace it and break your seats. Then they say they will fix the seats and you drop it off and they take your # and say they will call you after about 3 hours I ride up there and they are closed and I can't get my car back until 8am. No one called to say, "Hey its not ready or we have to keep it longer." Its a scam and nothing but untrained "professionals" who have no business ethics. The place is disgusting and something is going to be done about it. Ever thought why they only take cash. Wonder what the taxes look like at the end of the year.....

They are thieves

Earls got me also. but not at Golds Gym. They towed my truck at Forest Hills apartments. I was visiting my girlfriend and i parked in a spot that clearly said visitor parking and when i came back to get in my truck they had towed it. I called them and asked them why they towed it out of the visitor spot and they denied that it said visitor. I took a picture of it. they demanded $100.00 even though it said visitor on the parking spot. (cash only). The next day either Earls Wrecker or Forest Hills Apartments painted over the word visitor in the parking spot with black paint to cover their butt. I reported Earls to the BBB and tomorrow i am reporting Forest Hills Apartments to the BBB. If that doesn't get my money back i will file a law suite.


I am one of the latest "victims" of Earl, and being new to the city I can't believe that this crook is allowed to get away with such theivery, and apparently its all legal! What a scam, I'd like to get a job in the offices of these apartment complexes and blow the lid right off all of the obvious paybacks from him to these property managers. I worked in property management for 10 years in another state and believe me there is a lot of under the table deals that go on between contractors and managers, and if you say anything your out of a job. Its clear that Earl and his partners in crime read these postings and when you read mine I pray that you will get your someday, what goes around comes around pal, and when its your turn believe me its going to be UGLY! I wish we could all get together and get a class action suit against this scumbag, I'm willing to put up some dollars to get it started, and I will be contacting the IRS....daily. Have a nice day EARL............


The above company towed my car right in frnt of my driveway, report it abondoned after I reported stolen to the police dept. When I got to their lot, they said, Iwas parked in the grass. I intend to take them to court because to this day I don't have my car. Earl's people are saying they gave the car back to me, when they didin't. I feel that they have been scamming people out of their hard earned money and getting away with it. I want to get together with anyone to get a class action suit against their business, They are very unethical.

tow truck scam

a few years ago me and some buddies just followed a tow truck around one night honking the horn everytime he tried to hook up a car. it really made him mad. Honk Honk Honk After doing this for a few nights a cop pulled us and told us he could arrest us so we stopped. I still think its a good idea. When I see one I will still honk but I wont follow him. I really want to do it to repo guys who repo those cars financed on lot preditory lenders. If you miss one payment you lose everything you got in the car. Honk Honk Honkey honk

R O T F L ! ! ! !

Dude...I gotta tell ya...your post CRACKED ME UP! I can TOTALLY envision a group of guys riding around following and honking! Hysterical! honk honk honkitty honk Honk on, brother. Honk on. While I do think most people have it coming, there really are some instances where the local tow companies overstep their bounds. The ones downtown who would rather gamble their car will still be there when they stumble out of the bar have it coming when they find out their lush wagon is waiting in the tow man's lot. But there are instances where tow companies have hooked up and towed without checking the valid parking decals, and that really is wrong. Also, BY LAW they are supposed to stop hooking up and towing if the vehicle owner catches them in action (unless it's a repo), but I can assure you that they don't always do that. That really IS a law violation. As for the ones who could not be inconvenienced while WALKING FROM THEIR VEHICLE TO THE GYM...they have it coming. No matter how much they whine about it, there WERE signs posted. And to the one idiot who posted that this should have been on tv...I'm wondering how you have enough brain cells to walk upright. SERIOUSLY??!? You want a news story ON TV to advise you whenever someone in town changes parking spots??

If you park where you are

If you park where you are suppose to, carry permits like you are suppose to, then it would be extremely rare that your vehicle will get towed. The problem is so many people feel like they can park wherever they want, especially when going downtown drinking. They don't want to walk so they will just park anywhere they see open space. Those people deserved to get their cars towed. I also have problems with those at apartment complexes who have guests over and allow them to park in spaces designated for renters.

A Commercial loading zone is just that a commercial loading zone

Thankfully these Tow Trucks are here to haul all the whiny, shiny car and SUV driving brats out of Commercial Loading Zones and Loading Docks. If you do not have Commercial plates and business with the business you are blocking use your head and park elsewhere. Would you like us parking our Commercial vehicles in your driveway just because you are not home, or how about your yard. You are in the way of us doing business and honestly I think towing charges should be higher if you park in a loading zone or loading dock. It is simple park out front of the Harris Teeter and Walk, if you need a shorter walk, cancel you membership or switch Gym locations.

When I first moved to

When I first moved to Wilmington 4 years ago I came out the first weekend at my apartment complex and my car was gone. I almost called the cops until a neighbors suggested I call Earl's. My parking Decal was in plain sight on my windshield. I had been in the complex two days. I gurantee the guy just didn't recognize my car and hooked up the tow truck without getting up and walking around to look at the windshield. Earl's would not bring me my car, or pay for me to take a taxi to get it, even though they said they saw the decal when they checked their lot. I was on the way to a wedding and had to wait for the ONE person I knew in Wilmington to come pick me up and take me to Earl's. They tried to tell me there was too much tint in my car even though it was a 2003 SUV that had not been touched since the assembly line. No apology, and they wouldn't even move my car I had to walk through the muddy lot to get into it.


WHy don't a group of you that has been towed by Earls, get together and contact the IRS.Make sure you still have receipts of the towing bill.Not only will they find the reason for CASH ONLY but they will also see the discrimination that is going on.Then see how long EARL's stays in business.

This is a general comment

This is a general comment for everyone that likes to bash tow truck drivers....park where you are suppose to and you won't worry about getting towed. Yes I know there are situations where the information isn't marked well and that should be on the businesses more so than the tow truck drivers. These businesses and apartment complexes contract out that service to tow truck companies and they tell them what they want done and how. The blame shouldn't lie with the tow companies as much as it should with the businesses that contract them out


While alot of towing companies are low life crooks who steal cars for a living without fear of be arrested and charged, there are alot of towing companies who are friendly and helpful in a time of need. Like everywhere else a few crooks color the whole industry as bad. It sounds like some of the people towed are spoiled brats who were too lazy to walk a few extra feet, and what person with any common sense would park in an unlit out of the way place just to save a few steps. This problem is not the fault of Golds Gym, it's the fault of a bunch of lazy slugs who want to see just how far they can push.


Long leaf Mall has a HUGE parking lot. If these people are so fit why cant they park over at HT or the pottery and WALK? Makes me laugh. Come on folks you already KNEW cars had been towed (saw it on the news weeks ago) but you took the risk instead of the sure bet. Stop whining.

confused? Yes.

Maybe your ignorance will help shed light on what has been happening. The ill-marked, barely legible stripes on the pavement were hundreds of yards away from the entrance to Golds. This issue wasn't in the news, and no, no one knew about people getting towed. Oh, except the development company, Zimmer Development, who hired the towing company in the first place. Think before you write.

What's the real problem here

See folks, everyone is missing the forest for the trees here. If these people who are members of Gold's would just do push aways from the table and walk a few miles each day they then wouldn't have to pay dues to sweat and their cars wouldn't be towed and they wouldn't be adding to global warming by driving their SUVS etc. to the exercise place. Many problems solved. Remember's usually when you are up to your neck in alligators that you realize that your initial goal was to drain the swamp!

How by what you state is

How by what you state is that going to help someone gain strength and muscle mass. Just because you are lazy and over-weight doesn't mean everyone else wants to be

Response to "What's the Real Problem Here"

How do comments like this get through. This turns from a forum discussing a parking situation and how Early towing preys on Wilmington business owners and residents to a forum for some guy to post his feelings on diet and exercise. Why all of the sudden does a gym member become the reason for global warming. Do you drive to the grocery store or walk? Do you walk to work? Do you grow your own food? Do you use any form of fossil fuel in your life? With an obesity rate of 60% or so in America you surely can't shame those people who are trying to better themselves by loosing unwanted pounds, rehabilitating injuries, or working off extra stress. I wish it were just as simple as "pushing away from the table." The surgeon general recommends 45 minutes of exercise 3-4 days per week. Weight bearing exercise reduces the risk of osteoporosis as well.

What's the real problem here

See folks, everyone is missing the forest for the trees here. If these people who are members of Gold's would just do push aways from the table and walk a few miles each day they then wouldn't have to pay dues to sweat and their cars wouldn't be towed. Problem solved. Remember's usually when you are up to your neck in alligators that you realize that your initial goal was to drain the swamp!


Please be aware that there is a difference between EARL'S Wrecker Service & EARL CHAMBERS Wrecker Service. This article is about Earl Hewitt w/ Earl's Wrecker Service & not Earl Chambers w/ Earl Chambers Wrecker Service. Earl Chambers Wrecker Service is an extremely reputable company that has been PROUDLY & REPSECTIVLY serving Wilmington & surrounding areas since 1966. Tow aways down by Earl Chambers Wrecker Service are ONLY done by request of a manager w/ signature on file of the tow away. Earl Chambers Wrecker Service doesn't discriminate on their pricing based on customers or incidences. The employees & family of Earl Chambers Wrecker Service would like to take this opportunity to apologize to the residents & students that are being taken advantage of & are glad that this information is finally be introduced to the public so that you can be aware that not all companies are like Earl’s Wrecker Service or any of the other wrecker services that do tow aways. In the past there has been a lot of confusion even by law enforcement agencies on which company is to be requested or at fault of complaints; do to both companies having “Earl” in the company name. For a many of years customers would simply ask for Earl when making requests because Earl Chambers was the only company to call. It wasn’t til approx 1990 that Earl’s Wrecker Service came on the scene & there began the confusion. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to comment.

What does the city have to

What does the city have to do with this? So quick to cast the blame. You all should be mad at the owner of Long Leaf Mall and Golds Gym. I would cancel my membership immediately. In the city that I lived in before I moved here, if construction was scheduled for a street and the public notice was poor, the tow trucks would simply move the cars a couple hundred feet down the street. The owner of Long Leaf Mall could have directed Earl's to do the same. Instead, he directed Earl's to bring them to the tow lot.

As a member going through

As a member going through all this, I have to object to your comment that they have any blame. The staff has made alot of effort to make their members aware and safe. Its not their fault.

Earl what a ripoff

Earl has been ripping people off for years! AND it's sanctioned by the city of Wilmington.

I feel so bamboozled right

I feel so bamboozled right now. I didn't see the no parking signs in the lot where I was and got my car towed, my fault yes. However, I had to pay 160 to get it out. Crooks!


Earls wrecking is the closest thing to a legal racketeering that there is. Let's break it down. Research medium duty towtrucks and they are around $50,000 yet can easily last 10 years. Insurance is what, $250 a month so roughly $10 a day! Gas at maybe $50 a night. And what, on a good night 50 cars per truck. Even at $100 per car, thats $5000 a night. Not only that, but through my experience, they are a rude group of criminals that work there. Disgrace of a business.

FRAUD...........What is

FRAUD...........What is REALLY sad is that the patrons of the gym...who have a PAID membership are being forced to park in dark areas around shady corners.....Has WPD increased the patrols around that area...the next newscast will be how vandals have started getting into those customers vehicles....VERY SAD indeed. Also since they both * man and the woman) have the SAME reciept with DIFFERENT would cost more than the ticket but I would be at New Hanover County Courthouse filing a civil action....I am sure the City Attorney will agree that this towing company is preying on the gym patrons.....And Earls is in the WRONG They said "they must of used a dolly or had their parking brake on, the employees or EARLS are 100% correct ...." WELL IT WASN"T MARKED ON THE RECIEPT.....SO THEREFORE IT IS FRAUD!!!!


Earls wrecking is the closest thing to a legal racketeering that there is. Let's break it down. Research medium duty towtrucks and they are around $50,000 yet can easily last 10 years. Insurance is what, $250 a month so roughly $10 a day! Gas at maybe $50 a night. And what, on a good night 50 cars per truck. Even at $100 per car, thats $5000 a night. Not only that, but through my experience, they are a rude group of criminals that work there. Disgrace of a business.

One day

One day in the future I am going to open my own towing business, with the SOLE PURPOSE of towing tow trucks. I will then charge them $500-$1000 to get their trucks out of my lot, depending on how I feel that day. These people are legalized criminals, stealing peoples cars for their own gain. They are the worst scum in this entire city.

good luck

Good luck with that. Tow trucks don't sit still long enough for you to get them.