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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Before you complain...

A series of unfortunate events led me to the office of a private towing company in Minneapolis last month, where I helped someone reclaim her vehicle. That got me thinking: not only can towing companies take your private property and sell it back to you, but they set the selling price, too.

Want your car back? Let’s see... Hmmm... How about $281. $281! At least the city's impound lot is governed, to some degree, by the political process. And there's a measure of public good involved, too.

But who sets the price for stealing someone's car, and how come property rights never enter the equation? Extortion must be nice work if you can get it.

And then I read this sign posted outside the towing company's office window:

Ahh... I completely understand now. Gosh, if only all matters of law could be so eloquently resolved.

(Yes, I'm still angry)


Anonymous said...

I understand your frustration... here's a story: my brother had his car stolen in Oakland CA, the police recovered it in San Francisco a couple of days later. It was towed to a lot in Oakland -- and my brother, the victim of the car theft, had to pay about $700.00 to get his car. Outrageous.

Anonymous said...

Towing companies remind me of The Sopranos. You are basically strong-armed into paying whatever amount they charge. Aside from that, they assume you were parked "illegally." While that is true in most (probably) circumstances take the follwing scenario:

The day after a snow storm emergency a resident living on a "non-snowplow" is parked on the side of the road. The vehicle is supposed to be moved by 7:00 a.m. At 6:55 a.m., knowing he has five minutes to spare, the resident departs to hop into his car to go to the University of Minnesota law school for class. Much to the resident's dismay, his car is gone. Being the zealous 1L that he is, he snaps photos of his wristwatch showing the date and time. He also snaps a photo of the white street and the black square where his car once sat. He presents the photos to the City at the impound lot. Outcome: Too bad, there is no way to prove The resident did not manipulate the watch! How much did the tow truck driver get paid for violating the law?

bobby b said...

Every mode of power that we grant to others over us through the mechanism of government is susceptible to abuse. Remember that when you vote.