I believe my car was wrongfully towed from my friend's apartment complex. It's one of those gated communities that lacks much guest parking. When I went to his apartment last Thursday night I thought I was lucky as I found a spot outside of the gate. Turns out the asphalt was painted as an unnumbered "resident" space and I didn't notice because it was dark and the spot is mixed with guest spots. There's also a large sign at the entrance that fits legal parameters that I also didn't notice because it was dark. My car was towed at about 12:50am (as the receipt says).
I felt that there wasn't enough warning, so I looked up the laws online and found these forums and the actual law on the government website.
The next day I went to the towing company and tried to get my car out. The man there refused to take my credit card because my dad is the registered owner, but he would take cash from me. I believe he's breaking the law here:
"(k) (1) ( )15 A person operating or in charge of a storage facility where vehicles are stored pursuant to this section shall accept a valid ( )16 credit card or cash for payment of towing and storage by a registered owner or the owner’s agent claiming the vehicle. “Credit card” means “credit card” as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 1747.02 of the Civil Code, except for the purposes of this section, credit card does not include a credit card issued by a retail seller.
(2) A person described in paragraph (1) shall conspicuously display, in that portion of the storage facility office where business is conducted with the public, a notice advising that all valid credit cards and cash are acceptable means of payment.
(3) A person operating or in charge of a storage facility who refuses to accept a valid ( )16 credit card or who fails to post the required notice under paragraph (2) is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not more than two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500), or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than three months, or by both that fine and imprisonment.
(4) A person described in paragraph (1) who violates paragraph (1) or (2) is civilly liable to the registered owner of the vehicle or the person who tendered the fees for four times the amount of the towing and storage charges. ( )17 "
I actually informed him of this and told him he could be fined by the police and asked for the relevant phone number. He got angry and told me to call 911. I told him that's an emergency line only and that he should have the number for non emergencies as specified here, but he ignored me:
"(iii) The towing company shall also provide to the vehicle owner or the agent a separate notice that provides the telephone number of the appropriate local law enforcement or prosecuting agency by stating “If you believe that you have been wrongfully towed, please contact the local law enforcement or prosecuting agency at [insert appropriate telephone number].” The notice shall be in English and in the most populous language, other than English, that is spoken in the jurisdiction."
So I finally dragged my dad down to the towing company to claim the car. My dad demanded that the man tell us who authorized the tow, and the man said it was "the security company." Doesn't it have to be the property owner that gives the authorization? It's a 100+ unit complex.
"(l) (1) (A) A towing company shall not remove or commence the removal of a vehicle from private property without first obtaining the written authorization from the property owner or lessee, including an association of a common interest development, or an employee or agent thereof, who shall be present at the time of removal and verify the alleged violation, except that presence and verification is not required if the person authorizing the tow is the property owner, or the owner’s agent who is not a tow operator, of a residential rental property of 15 or fewer units that does not have an onsite owner, owner’s agent or employee, and the tenant has verified the violation, requested the tow from that tenant’s assigned parking space, and provided a signed request or electronic mail, or has called and provides a signed request or electronic mail within 24 hours, to the property owner or owner’s agent, which the owner or agent shall provide to the towing company within 48 hours of authorizing the tow. The signed request or electronic mail shall contain the name and address of the tenant, and the date and time the tenant requested the tow. A towing company shall obtain within 48 hours of receiving the written authorization to tow a copy of a tenant request required pursuant to this subparagraph. For the purpose of this subparagraph, a person providing the written authorization who is required to be present on the private property at the time of the tow does not have to be physically present at the specified location of where the vehicle to be removed is located on the private property."
Finally he did give us a list of phone numbers to call if wrongfully towed. Except the phone number of the city it was towed from is missing. I looked it up online, called the number and the operator told me to call the person in charge of towing violations. I did and left a message 2 hours ago.
What do I do now? Do I have a case to sue the towing company or apartment complex?