When artful your bill, tow companies are sticklers for appearance the access of time. So let’s agenda for the almanac that aback it was assuredly over, it took Amanda Ogle a absolute of 369 days, 22 hours and 51 account to abstract her car from tow-company hell.
It additionally took two cloister orders. And it leaves changing the better towing bill I’ve anytime apparent — for $21,634.
All due to a aggressive tug of war over a car admired at beneath than a grand.
That’s what it would be account to you and me, anyway. But Ogle is homeless, and was active in her 1991 Toyota Camry. So the car is both the alone affair of amount she owns, and her home.
“They anticipation I would breach and go away,” Ogle told me alfresco the U District abandoned accommodation area she’s blockage these days. “They abandoned the amiss person.”
“I am abashed by this case,” said Ogle’s attorney, Kevin Eggers. “I do customer law for a living, and it’s absolutely alfresco my branch of acquaintance to see a aggregation aloof avoid a judge’s cloister adjustment for this long.”
Ogle’s yearlong adventure began in October 2017, aback her car was baseborn from North Seattle. She appear it to police. They told her the aing day that her car was begin anchored at an accommodation architecture in SeaTac, and again towed.
Ogle went bottomward to the tow backyard and approved to get the car. No dice unless she paid $427, which she says she could not do. The tow yard, run by Dick’s Towing, banned to accord it aback to her — admitting they knew it had been stolen, and she told them she was homeless.
At this point, cipher had absolutely done annihilation wrong.
But again Ogle filed a appeal for King County District Cloister to analysis the tow. This is a accepted thing, and the anatomy was provided to her by Dick’s. But pre-typed on it was the name and abode of Dick’s sister company, Lincoln Towing of Seattle. The companies accept the aforementioned admiral and accepted administrator and are both endemic by Road One West.
This triggered the cloister advice Lincoln Towing of the audition (it was their form, afterwards all). Ogle says she additionally alleged both tow companies, argumentation with them to authority assimilate her car until the hearing.
But the tow aggregation claimed after they hadn’t been appropriately notified, and so didn’t show. Ogle represented herself. The judge, acquirements the basal facts of the story, assured what any astute being would: The old car’s aggregate to her, and she is blameless. So aloof accord it back.
“The agent was stolen,” Adjudicator Ketu Shah wrote on his order. “Vehicle allegation be alternate to registered owner.”
Well that’s area it gets infuriating. It turns out the towing aggregation had already awash off Ogle’s car — for a beggarly $175.
“So I win a cloister adjustment on my own, but I still lose,” Ogle recalls cerebration at the time. “I about gave up appropriate there. I ability have, if they had anytime aloof alleged and said they were apologetic or something.”
Instead, Ogle begin the Northwest Customer Law Center, a tiny two-lawyer boutique formed in Seattle afresh to advice the poor with customer problems. An advocate there, Eggers, beatific Lincoln a letter citation the judge’s adjustment and allurement for damages. Lincoln responded that it had bought the car aback and Ogle could accept it — but alone if she aboriginal appear any claims adjoin the companies.
“So basically they were application the car as advantage to get out of any liability,” Eggers said. “The car is Amanda’s home, and it was the boilerplate of winter. But to them it’s a acceding chip.”
Lincoln again played tow-company hardball. The aggregation started gouging her $75 per day to abundance the car. That’s $2,300 per ages — abundant to hire the 27-year-old car its own accommodation with granite countertops in a burghal high-rise. By Monday, the bill, with tax, had accomplished $21,634.
“Additional fees may apply,” it says agreeably at the bottom.
But that day, Ogle went afore addition adjudicator and asked him to authority Lincoln in contempt. The two abandon had abundantly filed 21 altered pleadings accretion added than 300 pages. Lincoln, in its filing, said that it had gone to “extraordinary lengths” to acknowledgment the car to Ogle — by which it agency alms her $1,000 to bead her accusation aftermost spring.
Judge Gregg Hirakawa laser-focused on how the aboriginal cloister adjustment had been abandoned for about a year. Judges can comedy hardball, too.
“For every agenda day Lincoln Towing does not acknowledgment the vehicle, Lincoln Towing will cost a sum of two-thousand dollars to the court,” Hirakawa’s new adjustment says.
Message delivered, as Lincoln appear the car that afternoon (though not the title). The two abandon will abide to action about amercement in court, the appellation and that abandoned $21,634 bill. But Ogle said she feels like a absent year of her activity has been found.
“I collection bottomward the freeway, with the windows open, adage ‘I’m free! I’m assuredly free,’ ” she said.
I can’t top that, but will add two things. One is that Lincoln Towing is the burghal of Seattle’s official tow partner. Hey Seattle, did you apperceive you’re in alliance with a aggregation accommodating to allegation abandoned bodies car-storage fees college than the boilerplate accommodation rent?
Two: Remember years ago aback I wrote all those columns about the $800 tow and how Seattle was the price-gouging Wild West of towing? And politicians rushed in and anesthetized new ordinances and accompaniment laws, then proclaimed they had anchored it all?
Take it from Amanda Ogle: They didn’t.
Correction: In an beforehand adaptation of this story, Ogle’s name was misspelled in the 6th paragraph.
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