Capital City Towing Des Moines Iowa

Capital City Towing Des Moines Iowa

Capital City Towing Des Moines Iowa – A year after a Des Moines towing and impound company lost its contract with Polk County amid accusations of aggressive behavior, the controversy has sparked a broader debate about towing laws and drivers’ rights.

Crow’s Auto Service, Inc. (better known as Crow Tow) has been in business for over 20 years. According to its now-defunct website, “Crow Tow is in business to provide high-quality, affordable service to the general public and local and state law enforcement agencies.”

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In an email. “Originally, we operated a gas station that impounded cars for the city and county, and we grew from there.”

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For years, Crow Tow has faced widespread allegations of unethical or illegal towing, vehicles being held hostage for cash-only transactions, looted or damaged vehicles, verbal abuse and intimidation by employees, and refusal to provide evidence as to why the cars were towed.

Drivers commonly express their frustration by posting online reviews that reflect their negative experiences. As of October 20, Crow Tow had 2.3 stars out of a possible five based on 908 Google reviews, 1.3 stars out of five based on 70 votes on Facebook, and one star out of five based on 85 Yelp reviews. While every review is subjective and should be viewed with caution, the overwhelmingly negative consensus and recurring trends are hard to ignore.

“No one likes to have their car towed,” Crowe said. “The negative online comments of those who are towed are just a result of that. When complaints are made and appropriate information is provided, we conduct an investigation. The allegations are not supported by documented facts.

Polk County’s towing contract expired on June 30, 2021, and Crow Tow lost its contract bid after the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously, 5-0, to award the bid to G&S Towing Service of Des Moines.

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“The question for us at that point was whether we were going to give them Polk County’s bid,” Hockensmith said.

. “What I shared during the meeting, as well as publicly, was that the law requires us to accept the lowest, responsible and responsive bidder. Our office has received many calls and questions regarding some of Crow Tow’s practices.

Hockensmith said there were several factors he and the other supervisors considered before making a decision, including complaints from the public. Around this time, Iowa resident Heather Gulbranson posted a petition on Change.org asking the city to end its contract with Crow Tow. So far, the petition has more than 7,500 signatures.

“Personally, I think it’s more than a coincidence that so many people say the same things, over and over, about their predatory practices,” Hockensmith said. “Mr Crowe doesn’t seem to think they have predatory practices, but most people I’ve spoken to who have had experience with them have not been kind.”

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Crowe said the company was “not significantly affected” but criticized the board for terminating the contract, singling out Hockensmith because of a previous interaction the supervisor had with Crowe in 2020. Hockensmith said he went to Brownstones, where he lived his daughter in time to help place two packages that were delivered to her garage while she was on vacation. He parked in the alley and according to him, in less than 30 seconds there was already a Crow Tow truck attached to the car, with the driver’s door open and the engine running.

The accounts of Crow and Hockensmith differ, but Hockensmith was not alone on the board when the decision was made.

“We have the authority under Iowa law to determine whether they are responsible bidders,” Hockensmith said. “We decided not to. If I had the same information in front of me that I had when the decision was made, I would make the same decision again.”

Although Crow Tow lost its contract with Polk County, the company still has one with the city of Des Moines. The towing bid was first awarded in 2014. The city’s current contract with Crow Tow, which began in 2020, expires on February 28, 2023. The city and Crow Tow then have the option to extend the contract by one year or to sign the tender again.

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“We have a great working relationship and we hope to continue that in the future,” Crowe said of the contract with the city.

When asked about citizen complaints about Crow Tow, Des Moines Police Capt. Daniel Blom said

In an email, “Every complaint is investigated and evaluated against contract requirements. None of the complaints received in 2021 were a result of the 4,247 Crow Towing seizures made for the Des Moines Police Department last year. The complaints received were the result of Crow Towing agreements made outside the contract.

Blom added: “The option to extend the contract with Crow Towing, or to auction the contract, has not been discussed at this time.”

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Towing companies provide important services such as clearing roads in the event of a car accident or moving a car when it breaks down so it can be repaired. These are also for profit services that can be abused if motivated by profit.

Towing is an $11.3 billion industry in the United States, according to industry research firm IBISWorld, and business is expected to grow. As safety features in new cars help reduce the number of accidents, the industry is increasingly dependent on non-consensual towing.

The 2021 Towing Survey conducted by the American Property Casualty Insurance Association found that among the biggest problems consumers and insurers have with towing companies were “creative billing practices” used to inflate towing bills and charge exorbitant amounts for daily towing fees . or practices that “make it difficult to recover a vehicle or even gain access to obtain personal property or commercial cargo.”

In May 2021, the Education Fund of the US Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) published the report “Getting Off the Hook of a Predatory Trailer”. In conducting a comprehensive study of state towing and enforcement laws, the US PIRG found: “An alarmingly high number of states lack defined protections on issues such as whether a consumer is entitled to an itemized refund or a refund if the vehicle which you are damaged.” Additionally, “many states have inadequate protections or existing laws are vague or overly broad and inaccessible to the average consumer.”

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US PIRG has compiled a list of 14 fair practice protections for drivers. Based on your “common sense” suggestions, Iowa ranks with Alabama, Alaska, Mississippi, New Hampshire, South Dakota and Vermont with the fewest protections against abusive towing practices.

Iowa law does not require towing companies to photograph vehicles before they are towed, accept credit card payments, set specific times to pick up the vehicle, release vehicles for free or with a reduced “transfer fee” before the vehicle is completely removed from ownership, compensate drivers for vehicles damaged during the towing process, or allowing access to personal belongings (including emergency items such as wallets, keys and medicine).

Director Teresa Murray of the US Consumer Protection Bureau wrote the second part of the report, “Getting off the Hook of a Predatory Tow,” published on April 27.

“We were surprised by how terrible these protections are in the vast majority of states,” Murray said. “Iowa has some of the worst defenses in the country. We couldn’t find anything about maximum towing rates, maximum towing rates, even when towing companies are required to display their rates.”

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The only protections in Iowa include requiring towing companies to notify owners or lienholders of their vehicle being towed, and requiring drivers to be reimbursed if a tow turns out to be illegal.

The US PIRG report also found no laws in Iowa requiring clear parking signs in private parking lots or laws preventing towing companies from patrolling (or “crossing”) private parking lots for vehicles illegally parked by drivers. .

“What we find in many states is horror story after horror story where you have tow trucks that are under contract to the owner and can patrol the parking lot at any time of the day or night and then tow anyone they want if they think there’s not enough air in the tire or the parking permit is distorted,” Murray said. “When you have​​​​these contracts, you incentivize the towing companies to tow. This is clearly a moneymaker. If you incentivize towing for improper reasons, that is predatory.”

My car was parked for 5 minutes and Crow Tow put my car in their bed. The driver didn’t answer my questions, kept telling me I could pay the toll fee and left without paying me the toll. I had my phone in the car along with other personal valuables. — Espy (@espy2fly) October 9, 2021

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Reminder that you never need their permission to literally steal their cars. Damn the crow trailer. pic.twitter.com/v5Q3sNtewa –

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