DENVER (CBS4) – A Denver couple was shocked recently to find their parking space empty in their apartment’s private garage. Their vehicle had been towed, despite their valid permit, current registration and parking in one of the many unassigned spots. Now they want the towing company to reimburse them for the wages lost while their car was gone.
“At first we panicked because we thought our car had been stolen, but then we saw drag marks on the ground. We checked Wyatt’s website and found it had been towed at 4:55 in the morning. The violation says we didn’t have a valid or visible parking permit, but we do,” said Sarah Sersch.
She contacted Wyatt’s and asked for the photos taken of her vehicle prior to being towed. The company told her she would need a court subpoena. Sersch was able to obtain photo copies from her property manager. The photos taken by the towing company show the couple’s valid parking permit in the windshield.
Sersch and her property management were able to get the car released for free, but being without a vehicle still cost them.
“My partner had to miss work because all of her work gear was in the car. The lost wages hurt us because now we may not be able to get some groceries when we need them,” said Sersch. “We also had to pay for an Uber to go get the car.”
Sersch filed a complaint with Wyatt’s, asking for reimbursement of day’s wages and the Uber fare. The company told her she would receive a response within 48 hours. It’s been over a week since their vehicle was towed, and they haven’t heard back from Wyatt’s.
“I feel like they just tow vehicles, hoping people pay and walk away. I was reading the Google reviews, and there’s tons of people who seem to be in similar situations,” said Sersch. “Their Better Business Bureau grade is an F.”
Sersch also filed a complaint with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. The Transportation Section of the PUC is responsible for overseeing towing carriers that operate on a for-hire basis in Colorado.
“The property manager does not have to be there when the tow takes place. The property manager or owner can designate someone, and frequently it’s the tow company themselves, to act as the agent. That designation has to be in writing in order for it to be a valid tow,” said Doug Dean, Director of Colorado Public Utilities Commission.
According to the couple’s tow invoice, the driver of the tow truck also acted as the authorizing agent. Dean says predatory towing has slowed in Colorado, but it’s something the PUC sees from time to time.
“We have a staff of investigators who go out, inspect their records and all the information they have on tows. We take enforcement actions against companies up to and including putting them out of business,” said Dean.
CBS4 reached out to Wyatt’s and they did not respond to our request for comment.
The PUC says is looking into the couple’s complaint. Wyatt’s has until May 12 to respond.
If a car owner believes their vehicle has been wrongfully towed, it’s critical that they file a complaint with the PUC, so they can conduct an investigation into the towing company.
If Wyatt’s does not respond to their request for reimbursement, Sersch and her partner plan on speaking with an attorney to discuss legal action.