Based on daily calls to the tow hotline (512-680-3190), vehicle owners and operators continue to be abused verbally when at a vehicle storage facility to retrieve their vehicles.
Important facts to remember:
Upon arrival to the storage facility by yourself or with someone, use a cellphone, digital recorder or camera to record in video/audio the entire event until you drive off the property. Racial and vulgar slurs by the storage lot and towing company employees is not uncommon, so it’s important to record everything said. They cannot tell you not to record them as they are recording you!
The first thing you ask for is their vehicle storage facility employee’s license card. (license card below).
They are required to display it so you can read and write their name, license number and expiration date upon request. It’s not uncommon to hear the person on the other side of window say, “its all the receipt”. This is a sign of deception, you should always call 911 before paying someone money who refuses to display their valid TDLR license. (this includes tow truck operators also)
Once the license issue is out of the way, you need to request a copy of the non-consent tow fee schedule for the towing company that towed your vehicle, another document the storage facility must provide, upon request. VSF are required to provide this document to you, not guide you to a sign outside the building.
Ask why your vehicle was towed and if a photograph was taken to prove the reason towed.
Then, when talking about the charges they are demanding, ask what services, the date, the time, they were performed that allows the $20 impound fee. Ask who did the inventory. If the VSF employee says the tow truck operator did the inventory, you should not pay the impound fee, if they still demand you pay, file the online complaint against the vehicle storage facility employee. Be sure to get that conversation recorded! The VSF is required to provide you a copy of the inventory.
If the vehicle storage facility attempts to charge you the $50 notification fee and the 24 hrs passes on a Weekend or holiday, they must prove to you, the Registered Letter was actually mailed by providing the postmark from the post office. This is nothing more than a scam, so verify the letter was actually sent.
You also want to file a complaint against the tow truck operator if the storage lot employee says did the inventory, because most do not hold a dual license, to perform the inventory duties of the vehicle storage facility. Both the vehicle storage facility employee’s and tow truck operator’s TDLR license number must be on the release documents. You can only be charged $20 day, if the vehicle is less than 25′ long. A daily storage fee may be charged for any part of the day, except that a daily storage fee may not be charged for more than one day if the vehicle remains at the VSF less than 12 hours. In this paragraph a day is considered to begin and end at midnight. (as an example, vehicle placed into storage at 11pm Saturday, pickup the vehicle at 9am Sunday, only charged one day) Ask for a copy of the inventory since you are being charged for it!
After making payment, under no circumstances should you sign anything, other than the notarized VS-011 TDLR form. Do not sign their business paperwork regardless what they say. No police officer or deputy sheriff has the authority to make you sign the Vehicle Storage Facility’s paperwork, if you encounter an officer saying you must, ask for their supervisor to respond.
Before opening the door of your vehicle, check the door key on both sides, the weather stripping above the door latch along the bottom of the window for cuts and damage, if you notice this damage, there is a good chance the tow truck operator used a slim-jim to open your vehicle and rummaged through the contents of the vehicle. You definitely want to call the Police or Sheriff before entering your vehicle so it can be fingerprinted and documented by law enforcement. Be sure to get the offense report number.
Due to the fact that some tow companies and vehicle storage facilities are being fined by TDLR for failing to carry out a drug and alcohol testing policy for their employees, it best to check your vehicle thoroughly as narcotics could fall out of a tow truck driver’s short pocket while rummaging through your vehicle, especially if your vehicle appears to have been unlocked.
Be sure to check your vehicle for damage or missing personal property BEFORE driving off the storage facility property.
If you discover damage, missing personal property or your door locks doesn’t work, call the Police or Sheriff to have an offense report issued.
The release documentation must provide the name of the person who authorized the tow, not the name of the business or apartment complex.
A vehicle storage facility cannot require a vehicle owner or operator to show proof of insurance as a condition to release a vehicle, if they persist, file a complaint against the vehicle storage facility employee.
If the vehicle storage facility refuses to provide the name of the person instead of a business name, there is no deadline to file the tow hearing and you want to file the online complaint against the vehicle storage facility employee for this purpose of refusing to provide the name of the person.
If the vehicle storage facility employee is rude, refuses to provide all the required information provided on this page, please file the online complaint against the vehicle storage facility employee with the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulations..
After filing the online complaint, print the last page that contains the “track number” and send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and attach the recorded conversation while at the release window and a copy of the paperwork provided after payment is made.
If you don’t file the online complaint against these storage facilities for their behavior with you, they will continue to take advantage of the public.
These online complaints will could or may not get your money back, but it will get them fined and their license suspended or revoked.
To better understand the importance of filing complaints, read this article, so you understand what to file against what license.
In order to retrieve your vehicle:
The VSF shall allow the vehicle owner or authorized representative to obtain possession of the vehicle, including payment at the location of the stored vehicle, at any time between the hours listed on the facility information sign posted as described in §85.1003, upon payment of all fees due, presentation of valid identification (Texas drivers license or other state or federally issued photo identification), and upon presentation of:
(A) a notarized power-of-attorney;
(B) a court order;
(C) a certificate of title;
(D) a tax collector’s receipt and a vehicle registration renewal card accompanied by a conforming identification;
(E) name and address information corresponding to that contained in the files of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles;
(F) a current automobile lease or rental agreement executed by the operator of the vehicle or a person holding a power of attorney executed by the person named in the lease agreement;
(G) appropriate identification of any state or federal law enforcement agency representative;
(H) the most recent version of a department-approved form or electronic version of a department-approved form published on the department’s website, www.tdlr.texas.gov; which the VSF must make available to the vehicle owner or person seeking possession of or access to the vehicle; or
(I) evidence of financial responsibility (insurance card), as required by Transportation Code §601.051, as an additional form of identification that establishes ownership or right of possession or control of the vehicle.
(4) A VSF may not refuse to release a vehicle to the owner or operator of the vehicle or require a sworn affidavit of the owner or operator of the vehicle solely because the owner or operator presents valid photo identification issued by this state, another state, or a federal agency that includes a different address than the address contained in the title and registration records of the vehicle.
Knowing your right prior to arriving at a vehicle storage facility will prevent a vehicle owner or operator from being taken advantage of, as so many currently attempt and succeed.
Texas law enforcement agencies have a moral obligation to enforce these continued violations being committed at the vehicle storage facility, demand they arrest anyone at the storage facilities who fails to display a valid vehicle storage facility employee license.
Texas Occupations Code Sec. 2303.302. Criminal Penalties.
(a) A person commits an offense if the person:
(1) violates the licensing requirements of this chapter; or
(2) employs an individual who does not hold an appropriate license required by this chapter.
(b) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.
Sec. 2303.303. Authority to Arrest.
A peace officer or license and weight inspector for the Department of Public Safety may make an arrest for a violation of a rule adopted under this chapter.