Be careful where you park: New "booting hotspot" in Charlotte - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Be careful where you park: New "booting hotspot" in Charlotte

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

It appears there's a new hotspot for booting in Charlotte.

The Elizabeth area is a popular retail, dining, and entertainment area. Now there's growing concern about predatory booting of cars.

The parking lot in question is in the 1900 block of East 7th Street, near the intersection with Pecan Avenue. This is where Sub Station II and Dollar General are located.

Just last week, a WBTV crew in a news vehicle was booted in this same parking lot.

Thursday, the BBB issued a warning about that spot, saying customers of Dollar General and Sub Station II were shocked to return to their vehicles and find it booted because they had parked in the wrong space in the shopping center parking lot.

According to the BBB, some customers who parked in the right spot for their initial stop in the shopping center were then booted when they went into a second business in the same shopping center.

The towing company that is monitoring the parking lot and booting vehicles is United Towing (also doing business as A United Towing).

"United Towing has a contract with the property manager to insure that there are parking spaces available for all of the tenants' customers, not just for the most popular tenants' customers," said BBB President Tom Bartholomy. "Unfortunately, it ends up being a very expensive sub sandwich for drivers who are booted, because what the towing company is doing is not illegal."

"Since United Towing began aggressively booting vehicles in the Elizabeth area, the BBB has received eight complaints from customers whose cars were booted in this specific parking lot," Bartholomy said.

Customers are also voicing their concerns online on Facebook, UrbanSpoon, and Trip Advisor.

"In the long run, the businesses in this shopping center will lose customers who will go elsewhere for fear that their cars will be booted," added Bartholomy.

Customers whose vehicles have been booted allege that United Towing is engaged in predatory practices.

Complainants also claim that United Towing has demanded payment in cash and has refused to accept credit cards. If that is true, it is in violation of the City of Charlotte's Towing Ordinance.

According to the BBB, United Towing (BBB grade F) has an extensive history of complaints with the BBB filed by unsuspecting drivers who parked in the Key Man office parking lot on East Blvd to run into Starbuck's to grab a cup of coffee, only to return to find their car had been towed or was in the process of being towed.

These complaints and many more led the Charlotte City Council to amend the City of Charlotte towing ordinance in 2011. The amended Ordinance limits the amount charged for towing or booting and lists other provisions related to payment and vehicle retrieval hours.

One provision in the amended towing ordinance specifically states that if the owner of the vehicle returns while the vehicle is in the process of being towed, the towing company must release the vehicle without charging the owner a fee.

Instead of towing a vehicle, which takes longer to do and leads to the possibility of the vehicle's owner returning and retrieving their vehicle mid-tow, United Towing boots vehicles at $50 each.

"Booting a car can be done in a matter of minutes," said Bartholomy. "It's faster and more economical for the towing company to do, and it does not violate Charlotte's towing ordinance."

The BBB has advice for drivers:

  • Read the signs in parking lots to insure that the space you are parking in is a space that is designated for the business you will be patronizing.
  • Do not go into surrounding businesses that are not designated on the sign for the space in which you parked, even if they are in the same shopping center.
  • Pay close attention to the time allowed for parking. If the sign says 15 minute parking, your car could be booted on minute 16.
  • Be careful where you park. Do not park illegally even if it is only for a few minutes.
  • Do not park in lots where towing is enforced 24 hours a day, to go to nearby businesses, thinking that your car will be safe because the business is closed. Your car could be towed or booted for parking in a parking lot after the business has closed.

For more information, please visit the BBB.

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