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Local towing company responds to complaints

Says they do business by the book

Friday, March 4, 2011 - 3:02pm

BATON ROUGE, La (FOX44) -- After a Facebook page was created to give students a place to complain about a local towing company, the business is speaking out. Riverside Towing representatives say they run their business by the book.

When a new business was built across the street from his restaurant, Zippy's owner Neal Hendrick had no other choice, but to start towing. "We don't pay them. We don't get any money in return from them. I contracted them."

So far, he says Riverside Towing does great work. "We've spent time watching them, how they work. They were very careful delineating where we needed to do, what we needed to do and how to do it."

Employees with the towing company say that's because they're the best of the best. "They've got the best equipment. They've got the best cameras on all sides [of the truck]. I don't know what else to say about them other than they do a good job."

The company has been around for 11 years. On average, they tow about 3,000 cars a year near the LSU campus. "It's not going to be a pleasant experience," says an employee. "You parked in the wrong place. You got towed. We're giving you the greatest access there is."

Not everyone thinks Riverside Towing is great. The Facebook page touts the company as unethical, but the towing business says its actually the students running the site that are being unfair. "We tried to respond, let them know exactly what happened," says the employee. "They don't want to hear it. They deleted us. I try to stay away from it. It doesn't seem like a reality to me."

Employees say complaints about rudeness and the decision to accept cash only aren't legitimate. "It all starts off with someone being rude to them. You've met the employees. It's not going to make their night better to sit there and argue with people.

"We don't take credit cards because they can be cancelled. We don't take checks because they can be cancelled. Other agencies do the same thing. The DMV does it," says the employee.

Some students worry that because the company doesn't accept change, they're getting extra money that doesn't go into the bank. Concerned student, Spencer Drury, says "I'm going to get out 240 dollars because ATMs come in 20 dollar increments, so I come back and then they tell me they can't give me change? So where's my extra 12 dollars going, and how often does that happen to other students?"

"I don't see that happening," says the employee. "I don't see these huge sums left over. I don't know where they think there's all this money for kickbacks, all this money for skimming, but basically you have an average number. We towed this many cars, average this price. You better have that much put in the bank."

Then, there's the "F" rating with the Better Business Bureau. "The deal with the Better Business Burea is you have to respond in writing. Working day and night, I don't really have time," say the employee. Right now, employees say there are four unanswered complaints with the BBB. They plan to fix that.

"In my opinion, 999 times out of a thousand, we've done nothing wrong," says the employee. He says other towing businesses in the area have similar ratings. You can see the list of towing companies in the area, and the ratings they've received from the BBB. http://batonrouge.bbb.org/Find-Business-Reviews/matched/towing/Baton+Rouge-LA/

Riverside Towing says they video all of their tows, just so they can prove they're in the right. They say customers can see those videos during regular business hours (Monday through Friday 8am-4pm).

"We keep a year's worth on here. We go a year back. It's here if they want to see it. State police can see it," says the employee.

At the end of the day, employees say they're just trying to do their job. "What I'm worried about is making sure students have a place to park."

As for the Facebook page, they say it hasn't hurt their business at all. In fact, some clients, like Hendrick, think it may have helped. "I hate to say it, but the Facebook page makes them seem like the Darth Vader of towing. Who wants to be towed by Darth Vader?."

Employees say their rates are set by the Louisiana Public Service Commission. Anyone with complaints can get in touch with LPSC or the State Police. They follow complaints all the way to the end.

Get in touch with the LPSC at http://www.lpsc.org/

Below, you can see the attached towing rates set by the LPSC.

See the Facebook page created by students frustrated by the company: http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=119288624767784

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