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Department of Consumer Affairs
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Press Releases

DCA TARGETS UNSCRUPULOUS TOW COMPANIES;
SEEKS TO REVOKE LICENSES OF THREE COMPANIES FOR
REPEAT VIOLATIONS AND OVERCHARGING CONSUMERS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 8, 2004

DCA Seeking Maximum Fines and Consumer Restitution from
Port of NYC, Yankee Mike’s Towing, & NY’s Finest Towing

The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) today announced a crackdown on unscrupulous towing companies operating citywide. After a pattern of consumer complaints and violations ranging from illegal tows to overcharging customers to issuing improper receipts and more, the DCA seeks to revoke the licenses of three towing companies - Port of NYC, Inc. (Port), Yankee Mike’s (YM), and New York’s Finest Towing Inc. (NYF), as well as secure restitution for 65 consumers. In addition, all three companies face maximum fines for repeat violations of the City’s licensing law. Hearings have been scheduled for each beginning September 14, 2004 at DCA.

“These violations are classic towing nightmares and the DCA is serious about making sure private cars and drivers are protected,” said DCA Commissioner Gretchen Dykstra. “We are pursuing all legal options with these companies and be assured, we will take action to put any tower that acts unlawfully out of business and get money back for consumers. Licensing tow companies allows the DCA to vet the individuals towing private cars, and gives us the authority to take away those licenses from businesses that violate the law.”

 

PORT OF NYC, INC. (211 Eagle St., Brooklyn)

After establishing a pattern of complaints and violations, the DCA subpoenaed records from Port requesting proof of towing agreements and receipts issued. Port failed to comply fully by producing the materials requested. Over the past two years the DCA has received more than 40 complaints from consumers allegedly scammed by Port. Typical complaints include illegal towing of cars that are legally parked, overcharging, refusing to accept credit cards, issuing improper receipts, failure to reply to complaints, failure to obtain authorization from property owners to tow from lots, failure to take towed cars to secure and licensed facility, and more.

 

YANKEE MIKE’S TOWING, INC. (58-15 31st Avenue, Queens)

The DCA received at least ten complaints about Yankee Mike’s. Following a subpoena issued by the DCA, YM failed to produce all requested documents. YM did produce private service contracts with three establishments - none of which were those documented in consumer complaints. Typical complaints include illegally towing cars that were legally parked, charging as much as $270 per tow (more than double the legal rate), refusing to accept credit cards, issuing improper receipts, failure to reply to complaints, failure to obtain authorization from property owners to tow from lots, and more.

 

NY’S FINEST TOWING, INC. (4367 third Avenue, Bronx)

In March 2004 the DCA hit NY’s Finest Towing, Inc. and owner Scott Jennison with violations for operating without the proper booting license, as well as for illegally overcharging customers parked in a variety of Bronx locations. Mr. Jennison signed an agreement with the DCA to cease all unlicensed activity and to pay restitution to 160 consumers totaling $4,000. Mr. Jennison later obtained the appropriate licenses. However, after further investigation and receipt of an additional 14 consumer complaints, the DCA charges NYF operated without proper booting or towing license, illegally towed cars, overcharged customers, lacked proper contracts with property owners, used improper receipts, advertised auto repairs without a license from NYS Dept. of Motor Vehicles, used a license number from a different company on receipts (Autorama Enterprises), refused payment by credit card, and more.

Tips:

  • Always look for the DCA’s orange medallion with blue lettering on the side of a truck, which indicates a current license to operate, and, if possible, note the four-digit number.

  • Before parking in a private lot, read the signs. Some lots will tow if you leave the lot for any reason, even to go mail a letter or withdraw cash from an ATM.

  • If your car is towed, check the signage, which must include information including the name of the company that tows cars from that lot, their address, phone number and the hours during which you can retrieve towed vehicles.

A full list of towing tips and legal rates is available online in DCA’s Consumer Towing Guide. To file a complaint, or for a copy of the DCA Consumer Towing Guide, call 311 or visit the DCA web site at www.nyc.gov/consumers.

DCA enforces the City’s Consumer Protection Law and other related laws at thousands of businesses throughout New York City. Fostering a marketplace where consumers are protected and businesses can thrive, DCA licenses more than 60,000 businesses in 55 different categories citywide.