Impound Stories

Apr 19th, 2013 | By | Category: Nick Kemper's Blog

The World’s Greatest Graphic Designer tagged me in a Facebook post, in reference to her vehicle being impounded. Turns out it was towed away for a parking violation (from the police) by our sister company. They had to act swiftly to retrieve the vehicle before the end of regular business hours, so they did not contact me when they found out what happened. It was very distressing to me to hear that she had paid the full tow bill, because from the time I came to TowPartsNow, she has been my partner in catalog design. She’s the primary reason why our catalog looks so good. She even designed our logo. Her contribution has been a major factor in catalog sales, so she has brought much more to our bottom line than the tow bill to redeem her vehicle. If I would have known what had happened, I would have called in a favor from a colleague, and her bill would have been reduced, if not eliminated.

This isn’t the first time something like this has happened, of course. When you’re in the impound industry, some of your friends, family and colleagues will get towed away, and sometimes it will be your company that does the impounding. A woman who cut my hair for almost three years had her car impounded, and she didn’t tell me about it for another three haircuts. Again, it was one of our sister companies so I could have helped her.

When you’re in the impound industry, you hear a lot of stories. You hear a lot of pleas, a lot of begging, a plethora of demands, a few threats and some downright insane blabbering. Why, then, when someone you know and care about has the unfortunate experience of making a parking mistake, don’t you hear from this person you would want to help? There aren’t a lot of perks in managing an impound company. It’s a delight to be able to help a deserving person.

I imagine there’s a sense of embarrassment when your car gets towed away. You might want it to quietly go away. I think, however, in the case of the World’s Greatest Graphic Designer, it was more of a case of personal responsibility taking precedence. She didn’t realize that there was a time of day when the parking regulation where her car was parked would change, and it wasn’t a location she commonly visited, but there was no question that as of 4:30, her car was in a No Parking Zone. The penalty was hers to pay, and she paid it without complaint, and didn’t feel right about asking me, or anyone, to remove the penalty. Isn’t that how it usually works? Your ex-brother-in-law would have no problem calling you up with a tone of entitlement to get his car released without payment, but someone with integrity won’t have it.

I guess the better question is, isn’t that how it should work? Yes, it is.

Now that I’ve moved away from direct involvement with impound towing, I don’t hear as many second- and third-hand accounts of someone’s car being towed away. When I do, I try to play devil’s advocate, and by that I don’t mean that impound towing is the domain of Satan. If someone parks irresponsibly or illegally, there will sometimes be consequences. Most of the time, there isn’t. However, I also know that there are unscrupulous characters in the impound industry, and there is predatory towing, and that entrapment occurs, and the letter of the law often takes precedence over the spirit of the law. It’s inevitable – there’s money involved. I’ve been in a car driven by my own brother, in an unfamiliar coastal town, and he parks in a lot that is not parking for where we’re going, and I’ve said, “Don’t park here. Park in the street.” And he questioned me. “There’s no signs,” he protested. The absence of signs doesn’t always stop your car from being towed away, Einstein. Unfortunately, in the impound industry, the tow company is usually the judge or jury and the vehicle owner often has the burden of proving himself or herself innocent rather than the other way around. You would think, being my brother, hearing my stories about how many thousand cars I’ve towed away, he wouldn’t need me to remind him to park responsibly. Hey, he’s my brother. If we all didn’t have brothers to look after, we’d be out of a job, so to speak.

So I respectfully allowed the World’s Greatest Graphic Designer to not have funds credited back to her credit card. I also refrained from commenting on the posts of the uneducated about how nasty tow truck drivers are, commenting on her post to me in which she took full responsibility. My wife, who was across the country visiting friends, took care of that for me, and I was proud of how she left out whatever demeaning term she wanted to use to refer to the uneducated posters. We’re all so emotionally healthy I can’t stand it. Think I’ll go out and pull down some impound signs to trap some unsuspecting parkers.

Have a safe and profitable week.

Nick Kemper

www.TowPartsNow.com