Driver wins case against towing company in court, but still waiting for refund

COLLEGE STATION, Tex. (KBTX)- Another Brazos Valley driver says he was illegally towed by a company operating in Northgate.

KBTX has received more than dozen complaints from vehicle owners who say they've been illegally towed by Roadrunners Towing & Recovery at the Coyote parking lot.

"I feel like I've been caught up in a cartoon,” said Randy Hargrove, the driver who was towed.

Signs posted at the lot say you must pay if you walk away.

"I wasn't walking away without paying. I was walking to get change,” said Hargrove.

That's when Roadrunners quickly towed his vehicle away.

Hargrove took his case to a Brazos County court and a judge ruled in his favor, but when he called the wrecker company to collect his money he was told they were appealing the ruling.

"Soon as she heard my name she said were not talking to you,” said Hargrove.

Roadrunners owner Tom Chavers did not want to appear on camera.

In a phone conversation he told KBTX "If he [Hargrove] had gone to the judge instead of KBTX, he would know we have 30 days to pay or make an appeal. That's not right, we have a legal system and it doesn't include KBTX."

Hargrove doesn't understand why they just won't comply with the judge's ruling and pay him back.

"This whole thing is over five dollars and the bottom line is it’s not over five dollars. It's the $297 dollars that Roadrunners wants to hold on to," said Hargrove. "I'm just looking for the truth to be revealed and these people to be held accountable."

Click here to see KBTX's previous coverage of complaints against Roadrunners Towing.

If you ever feel like you've been wrongfully towed, you have 14 days to request a hearing from a local justice of the peace.

WEB LINK: Click here for a list of all Justices of the Peace in Brazos County.

What Are Your Rights?

When a tow truck tries to tow your car or after your car has been towed, you have certain rights as the car owner under the law.

Your rights:
If you return to your car and it is being hooked up to a tow truck but IT IS NOT FULLY hooked up and ready for towing, you can keep your car WITHOUT paying a CHARGE. You do not need to prove ownership of the car in this instance.

If you return to your car and IT IS FULLY HOOKED UP, READY FOR TOWING, BUT HAS NOT LEFT THE PARKING LOT, you may keep your car but YOU MUST PAY A DROP FEE. You do not need to prove ownership of the car in this instance either.

If your car has been towed from a parking lot, you can find your car by calling the phone number on the no parking sign. You can recover your car from the vehicle storage facility (VSF) after documenting that you are the owner (or allowed user) and paying the towing and storage fees.

You may request a TOW HEARING at any Justice of the Peace Court in the county where your car was towed if you believe your car was wrongfully towed, stored or booted; or if you were charged more than the allowed fee.

You must request a tow hearing from the court within 14 days of the tow.

WEB LINK: Click here for a full list of your rights and what you should do if your vehicle is towed.

HOW TO FILE A COMPLAINT

Consumers may file a complaint online through the TDLR website regarding a tow company, tow operator, car storage facility or their employees, or a booting company or their employees.

WEB LINK: Click here for the link to file a complaint with TDLR.

Filing a complaint with TDLR is not a substitute for requesting a tow hearing; however, you may do both.

Full statement from Dixie Chicken, Inc., the owners of the Coyote lot
Dixie Chicken, Inc., is not in the towing business and we are generally not involved with the disputes between patrons and the towing company. For years, the Coyote parking lot has used a very simple and effective payment system that is a great value for parking patrons. We are pleased that we are able to provide affordable parking in the Northgate District.

On rare occasions, some patrons fail to read the signage. In some cases, persons fail to pay for the parking and are subject to towing just like other parking lots in our community, and across Texas.

The corporation that owns the parking lot hired an independent contractor as the towing operator. While we often work with patrons with legitimate complaints, we have found through the years that the majority of the complaints lack merit and the towing was lawful.