Three Miami Beach Towing Horror Stories as Commissioners Decide Whether to Hike Fees

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​Miami Beach's two towing companies will attempt to hornswaggle the City Commission this afternoon into granting them a rate hike. If commissioners and Mayor Matti Bower cave in, Beach Towing and Tremont Towing will charge people an additional $64 to get their cars back. Obviously, Miami Beach residents are pissed off.

Representatives for both firms have tried to defend the oft questionable tactics Beach and Tremont use to profit from the misfortune of Beach parkers. Beach Towing's attorney, Rafael Andrande, complained to the Miami Herald story, that towing horror stories in the city are greatly exaggerated: "The towing industry has been vilified."

Excuse us, while we boo-hoo into a handkerchief. Since Andrande lives in an alternate realm where Beach Towing VIP decals keep your car from getting hitched, we'd like to point out a few verified incidents that illustrate how much his client and their competitor, Tremont, suck:

3. Stuff inside your car suddenly goes missing while it's impounded.
In 2008, Miami Beach resident Dan Sostheim, had his Hummer H2 towed by Tremont because his parking permit had expired by one day. When he tried to recover his SUV, Sostheim found that his registration wasn't in the glove compartment where he had left it. In the first six months of that year, MBPD received eight complaints over stolen items at Tremont's lot. Two years ago, NBC Miami aired footage of company employees breaking into people's cars and rifling through their belongings. Tremont's owners claim employees did nothing wrong and only searched cars for registrations.

2. They are a ruthless price-gouging automobile hunting soldiers of fortune.
Karl Wallman, an unemployed college student, parked his Honda Element in the parking lot of the CVS Pharmacy at 1421 Alton Road. He first grabbed a bite to eat at Lime Fresh Mexican Grill and then bought milk at CVS. His ride had been snatched by Beach Towing, which charged him $185 to get his Honda back. He later learned Beach's towing fee for a broken down car was only $50. The prices charged -- payable only in cash -- have lead to dozens of complaints every year with state and local consumer watchdogs.

1. They auction off your cherished, vintage automobile without your knowledge.
On March 1, 2004, Tal Priel, a part-time Miami Beach resident, paid $100 a month to store his prized 1975 gold two-door Buick LeSabre custom convertible inside the garage at 555 Washington Ave. Less than a month later, while Priel was in New York and without notifying him, Beach Towing hauled away the Buick. Seven months passed, Priel returned to South Beach to discover his classic automobile - which he had invested $8,000 in - was sold at an auction. If that wasn't a kick in the gnads, Priel learned his LeSabre had been sold to a Beach Towing employee for the bargain price of $1,481.72. The tow firm denied Priel's allegations in a civil suit, claiming it was a simple case of an "abandoned car." But Priel suit is echoed by dozens of similar claims -- not to mention violent clashes at the tow companies' yards; the same year Priel filed his complaint, New Times found police had been called to Tremont and Beach Towing's lots 958 times.

The companies are expected to plea their case to the Miami Beach Commission around 5 p.m. today.

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12 comments
Former CVS Customer
Former CVS Customer

Is anyone here interested in taking this thieves andliars to court? Let's give them hell for their sins. My car was also wrongfullytowed. If anyone is interested post it here so we can talk. I also parked atCVS while I was filling my prescriptions there and they towed my car. CVSrefused to do anything about it even though I've been a customer of theirs for10 years. They told me it was my problem and that the parking lot for thatstore, supposedly to be for their customers is not theirs and they (Beach TowingService) can tow any car at any time for any reason whatsoever and they don’tcare. They (CVS #5133) just want you money and if your car get towed while youare at the store, well, that's your problem. Needless to say I will never go toa CVS store again and the day they close the one in Alton Road, I will make atoast. The district manager even confirmed to me that their customers at thatstore get their cars towed all the time and they (CVS) don’t care. So be awarethat if you go to shop at CVS at 615 5th Street Miami Beach, FL 33139, your carcan be towed at any minute and they will claim is not their fault.

Elephantneverforgets
Elephantneverforgets

I was also robbed by them, took my work tools outta my car...cant prove it though....thats life

Papo
Papo

All scumbags. My moms 1996 Honda accord was stolen from my house. Police found it about two weeks later. It had been abandoned at some parking lot in Kendall not far from my house. My father and I went to check the car and to our surprise everything was still in car and it appeared the car had been cleaned and vacuumed. It was probably used in some gang initiation or drug deal. The kicker ! We had car towed home and when we got home all of our belongings including my moms dirty clothes meant for dry cleaning, cd Player face, oil and antifreeze containers in trunk, little bros baseball equipment was gone. Clearly scumbag tow tuck driver used his little jimmy to open car and help himself to our belongins before he towed it home.

James G. Camp
James G. Camp

Tremont stole my 1985 gen 1 Mazda RX7 like that. It was a collaboration though. Apartment complex deemed it an eye sore, it wasn't the prettiest car, but it was insured, properly licensed and the tires new and properly inflated. Police allowed them to fill out their documents & paperwork and then Tremont was called in to finish the theft. I reported it stolen and the police lied to me about where it was, the apartment office people had left for the day and after several calls to the police department I finally found out the truth. The cost of getting it back to NMB from South Beach was too much, so I sold it to Tremont that same day. They asked me if I was sure I wanted to sell it, but had I towed it back they would have towed it again because the same group that arranged for it weren't going to let me keep it. They weren't going to bring it back to where they stole it from either. And if anyone at Tremont towing is reading this, yeah, I consider to this day that you stole my car. What other way would anyone classify it, extorting a towing fee that changes because it's cash only to be whatever the tow company wants to charge. BTW, when is Tremont going out of business, weren't they sold off or something ? I say good riddance to them, I've never needed their services and anyone that I know of that has had a car towed, it's like "let's make a deal" or the "price is right" to get your car back.

Booger
Booger

They towed my car from my office parking lot where I am legally (in the terms of my lease) allowed to park.  I called the police and attempted to file a stolen car report.  The police, who are also in the pockets of these thieves, refused to take my complaint.

geo
geo

I parked my car 1 block away from the towing lot. I was eating at the B & B. I parked at a parking lot that had a pay to park system. I am a resident of Miami Beach and therefor I own an IPARK device. I had my device  turned on and displayed on my dashboard. I did not notice that the parking lot used a private pay to park system and therefor I was towed. I accepted responsibility for the misunderstanding on my part but I did not agree with the $200 towing fee that I had to pay in cash for a car that was towed 1 block away and was held at their towing lot for only 20 minutes. 

Y. Vidal

Al from 305
Al from 305

They are thieves. I had my all kinds of stuff stolen out of my vehicle when they towed it. everything from cd's to groceries and laundry detergent I had just purchased.  They are the reason i dont go to Miami Beach anymore.

Cane
Cane

I hate those guys however the only horror story in your article is #1.  #2 is confusing.  Okay he parked; but somewhere in between him parking and getting towed his car became disabled?  #3 - Are there any other stories where more than the registration was missing?

mm2kay
mm2kay

Residents should all storm and express their discontent.

James G. Camp
James G. Camp

#2 is hardly confusing. The prices to tow any vehicle when paid by cash become some asinine bargaining process, they hold you & your car hostage. They gouge and raise the prices. I figure the amount above and beyond the standard towing fee is to pay off the spotters they use. Valet parking and others spot for the tow truck drivers and make side money turning in parking violations that they encouraged, with every intention of cashing in on their back handed dealings.

Dee
Dee

Things definitely go missing. I've had family members who've worked at one (a good handful actually) and friends who have worked at the other. And its more than registrations...

giggity
giggity

     That does nothing to explain number 2. Making a field call to have your car towed to your house, is different from being towed to their lot for illegally parking. Different scenario, different rates apply. As for number 1, whether it was one day or 10 days, the parking permit was no longer valid. The fact that these are actually considered as legitimate gripes, shows how off-base, and self-absorbed this author and some of these other complaintants are.

     However unfortunate it is, parking rules are parking rules, and if people didn't act all self-important, and observe the rules, they wouldn't have to worry about being towed in the first place. Accept your faults, and stop acting like children throwing hissy fits over having their toy taken away.

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