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Troubleshooters: Towing concerns mount

READ MORE: Troubleshooters: Towing concerns mount
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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.

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Earl's

They always require cash. At night, older people have to find an ATM on Market Street to get their car. No exceptions, no sympathy! A first-class low rent racket afoot!

earls

Earl's wrecker service is a racket. They need to be investigated for their price gouging and fined appropriately. I hope the people who have been towed look at a civil case against them. THEY ARE THE ONES WHO NEED TO BE TAKEN TO THE CLEANERS

Parking

This really stinks.The people that own the mall should have the wrecker company to discontiue towing while construction is going on.If they are in a fire line is one thing, but in a loading zone at night please.How many companies in this mall really recieve freight at night.

Golds is helpless

Golds has been fighting for their customers over this for some time. The Company that owns and leases the shopping center has had this agreement with Earls for a couple months and I think both their pockets are getting lined. Maybe a boycott of those businesses and that shopping center would get them to come around.

mean

[sarcasm] Those mean wrecker drivers picking on the poor illiterate people that don't read or believe the "no parking" signs. They should be ashamed for trying to be in business to make a profit. They should tow for free. [/sarcasm]

The whole towing scene is

The whole towing scene is one big scam and has been for years. The city does not want to step up and regulate these companies. They got us at Campus Edge after even having a parking permit one time and I told him either he could give my car back at no charge or I would have a WPD officer get it for me...needles to say I got my car back with the charges waived. I suggest if you get hit by this bully you do the same!

As a college student I have

As a college student I have always heard about having watch out for two trucks specifically for Earls, they go after easy targets and charge what they want. I would agree that "shadiness" is the appropriate word for there business

Earl's Wrecker Service are

Earl's Wrecker Service are the rudest, most unprofessional towing company out there. I do not doubt for one second that they are ripping people off.

earl has been dirty for

earl has been dirty for years. we all know they have to eat to but clearly they have been involved in some very unethical business practices and aren't the only company in town to do so. hopefully they will be under more scrutiny from now on.

EARL WRECKER SHOULD BE IN

EARL WRECKER SHOULD BE IN THE FORTUNE 500 BY NOW ,SELLING STOCK AND SHARES TO THE TOWING BUUSINESS BUT dont you think that golds gym should have prepared for that situation and told the manager what to do to help gym members with the parking situation and could have put a sign in the golds gym about the parking situation ,i have seen those situations where illegal parking clusters get started ,but rule of thumb is EARL WRECKER DONE GOT YOU ONE TIME WITH A 150 DOLLAR TOWING you have to properly secure your vehicle AND MAKE 100% SURE ITS LEGAL TO PARK THERE OTHERWISE IF IN DOUBT DONT RISK IT CAUSE EARL WRECKER COULD BE WATCHING YOU WITH HIS BINOCULARS WAITING ON YOU TO STEP FOOT AWAY FROM THAT VEHICLE ILLEGALLY PARKED

Let me tell you about these con artists

Years ago, I worked for Valley National Gas. I had to deliver 2 Oxygen Cylinders to someone out at Campus Edge. I parked my delivery truck in the general parking lot, placed my flashers on and placed cones out per my company policy. It took me less than 10 minutes to deliver the oxygen and get my delivery bill signed. By the time I cam out, there was Earls Towing my work truck.... They were not very nice people to deal with at all. I have seen them tow cars (literally) for being an inch over a boundry line.. It is how they make their money. They are crooks! There needs to be much more regulation with towing companies.. You don't see John Russ running around acting like acrazed lunitic yanking up cars all over Wilmington, so what gives Earls the right to do it???

Campus Edge

I too was towed from Campus Edge when visiting a friend. This was several years ago. After walking from Campus Edge to Earls I was shocked when I had to pay cash for my car and was told that they legally can hold my car and charge me for storage until I paid the towing charge and storage fees.

By the way, Zimmer

By the way, Zimmer Development Group are the ones who own the property - the same ones who built Mayfaire. Maybe all this negative attention will prompt some changes.

Gold's should have been more

Gold's should have been more proactive on this. Surely they could see the construction activity mounting for weeks if not months before the pavement was ripped up. If anyone, Gold's should know the parking rules around their facility and should have posted signs inside. Nonetheless, Earl's has the worst reputation in Wilmington. A friend of mine was getting towed from his own apartment parking lot (parking pass displayed on mirror) and when he questioned the tow driver, Earl's employee flashed a gun at him and told him to go back inside.

RE: Gold's Should have Been more Proactive

Gold's Gym Management was told the day before construction started that the parking would be taken away and there would be a fence going up. Gold's Gym had 4 signs put up in the parking lot explaining where to park but they were unfortunately knocked down and run over by a vehicle. We can only image that it was a vehicle that did it and not the wind since there were vehicle tread marks on the signs. We asked Earls towing to come into the club before they tow and at least allow us the opportunity to make an announcement but my request was immediately declined. Since november we have had signs posted in the club expressly stating that there is a no parking area. It is very unfortunate and we are just as upset as our patrons. We have worked with every member who has had a vehicle issue and have driven many of them to their vehicles. Gold's Gym management routinely walks the parking lot to ensure the safety of its patrons and secondly to check the loading zone for vehicles. I myself have stood in the parking lot after making an announcement on the PA system to protect the members vehicle from the potential towing. I waited for 20 minutes in January for the member to come outside. Its very unfortunate that any vehicles have been towed and we have had our fair share of conversations with Earls towing and Zimmer Development about the situation. For the first 60 days of construction we hired someone to stand outside and inform the members coming in on the parking lot construction and time frame. We also send an email to every member in Wilmington for whom we had an email on file. We have a great working relationship with many members who are with Wilmington PD and they are continuing to aid us in ensuring the safety of both our members and their vehicles. This is all very unfortunate but we thank our members for staying loyal and for their level of understanding. Again, we are sorry any of these problems have happened and we thank our members for their patience and loyalty. chrish@goldsfitness.com

Golds has really has tried

Golds has really has tried to make a silk purse out of this sows ear. I think they have gone above and beyond to be honest. Its Zimmer and Earls that are the bad guys here.

Sorry should equal action- words vs deeds

Those that were towed from the Gold's Gym/Harris Teeter parking lot should NEVER have been towed. Yes, it was Zimmer Development who hired the Earls Towing. Zimmer should have put signs up but didn't- and Zimmer doesn't care. If you look at Zimmer's "personal" lot on Princess (you can't miss it, there is either a Ferrari, Rolls or Bently parked there, not kidding) they have multiple signs which say no parking, you will be towed, and if you are here is the number to call. Zimmer doesn't think the average working people at Gold's Gym are worthy of such signs until the average people took action recently. Gold's Gym has frankly been a dissapointment. They have known their customers have been towed for months! Why haven't they demanded proper signage? Why hasn't Gold's, or Zimmer, the real culprit here, reimbursed the poor people who were towed? I hear complete silence from Gold's and Zimmer when it comes to SINCERELY feeling sorry for their customers. You can write "I'm sorry" all you want; but if Gold's or Zimmer truly felt sorry, they'd offer to reimburse their customers the cash they had to pay to get their cars back.

TOWING & THE RACKET

Is it any coincidence that one Towing service controls more than one adjacent lot? no. Towing companies will seek out the property owner through the web, and offer them kickbacks for every car they tow from the owners lot: a good deal for doing nothing. To know exactly how far they can squeeze, they can use that same website to find the property line, and will work to the inch. If that wheel is touching the neighbors property, an unethical tow truck driver will tow without blinking.