Eight students have said J & J Towing removed their cars from their apartment complexes although they had permits displayed.
J & J towed the cars from Texan Tower and San Gabriel Condominiums, both of which are located in West Campus; University Estates in Riverside; and Tanglewood North Apartments in North Campus. Four of the towings occurred this semester.
Sociology senior Jenna Vandenbrande said J & J wrongly towed her car from Texan Tower twice.
“I got towed once for being parking in a handicap spot, even though it wasn’t marked one, and once for not having a permit displayed, even though it was clearly displayed on my car,” Vandenbrande said.
When she went to the management of her complex, Vandenbrande said the staff told her that the complex would only refund her money if she provided a photo of her permit on the car immediately before J & J towed it.
Each time J & J towed her car, Vandenbrande said she paid about $193, and she never received a refund from her complex.
According to an open records request that KXAN filed with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, J & J Towing has received 32 complaints, 34 violations and 15 illegal towing violations since 2011.
Timothy Sapp, director of operations for J & J Towing, said drivers work with each apartment complex differently.
“There are some properties that have us make patrol on our own, and others where we’re waiting for their call,” Sapp said. “The protocol for most apartments is permit patrol. The driver does an inspection of the property … [and], after the driver has checked the entire property, vehicles that do not have parking permits or are in violation are removed at that time.”
Corporate communications senior Lauren Martinez said J & J correctly towed her car when she parked near the AT&T Conference Center.
“I got caught up in class and forgot to pay again, so, when I walked out there, my car was gone,” Martinez said. “The guys weren’t rude about it, but it was just unfortunate.”
Every time J & J tows a vehicle, the base charge is $193.30. According to a company employee, the initial tow costs $150 and then there is a $20 impound fee and a $20 storage fee, which the company incurs for the vehicle for each day it is in the lot.
Sapp said anyone can file a complaint, but the company tries to resolve any issues before further action is necessary.
“First off, [we] look at photographic evidence to try and make a determination about whether the complaint has any validity,” Sapp said. “If it does, [we’re] obviously going to work to resolve the problem. We attempt to resolve any of these conflicts before it seems necessary to look for an independent arbitrator through the legal system.”
Sapp said the company almost all of the complaints on file with Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation have been dismissed.
“There are going to be complaints against the towing company since people don’t like having their cars removed without their consent,” Sapp said. “It’s going to be very difficult to make everyone comfortable with the situation. Obviously, we would like to have as few complaints as possible”