Towing companies to refund truckers booted while delivering essential supplies

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Two Charlotte towing companies had a change of heart Monday and agreed to refund more than $6,000 collectively to two trucking companies that were booted last week – after coming to the Queen City to deliver food and supplies.

“It gets a little bit disheartening to have to pay ridiculous fines when you’re just trying to do your job,” said Jim Downey, with Downey Trucking.

Chris Steuart’s company, Norco Trucking, had just delivered 25,000 pounds of food to a grocery distribution center when their driver was booted a day before Mecklenburg County’s ‘Stay-at-Home’ order was issued.

“Very upsetting,” he said.

Both companies had to pay about $3,000 each to get their trucks back.

“They told her if she didn’t shut up they were going to charge us $5,000 to remove the boot from the truck,” Downey told FOX 46 on Friday.  

RELATED: TOWING COMPANIES BOOT TRUCKS DELIVERING FOOD SUPPLIES

On Monday, FOX 46 continued to make calls and we’re getting results.

“Given everything that’s going on these days,” FOX 46 investigative reporter Matt Grant said to the owner of Tip Towing by phone, “would you consider giving this company a refund?”

“Yeah, in this particular instance I’ll give him a refund,” said Tip Towing co-owner Kristian Szendi. “I just want everybody to know that we’re not targeting anybody. We’re not price-gouging anybody. The market for these things is what it is. It has been the same.”

The company previously said Steuart’s driver was asleep for five hours when he was booted. Steuart denied that and said his driver went inside the supermarket for 30-45 minutes to get something to eat.

On Monday, Tip Towing said it confused Steuart’s case for another one.

The owners of Tip Towing and Trust Towing and Recovery both say they were just doing their jobs.

Downey Trucking was booted at the Walmart located at 9820 Callabridge Ct. Norco’s truck driver was booted near the Asian Corner Mall at 520 N. Tryon St. Both lots had signs warning it was private and towing is enforced.

However, after FOX 46 stepped in, both towing companies agreed to issue full refunds.

“I’d be happy to give his money back,” said Szendi. 

The $3,000 check for Steuart has already been made out.

“First of all, we couldn’t have done it without you,” said Steuart, when told by Grant about the refund in a video call Monday. “You’re a saint and I appreciate that.”

“It’s tough times,” he added. “And you brought a little ray of sunshine into a tough situation here.”

Grant then called Downey to let him know he’ll be getting $3,300 back from Trust Towing.

“I’m glad it worked out,” said Grant. “I’m glad we could help get results for you.”

“You’ve been great,” said Downey. “I don’t know how far this would have gone without your help.”

“I’m very thankful for FOX 46 news,” he added.

“Thank you to FOX 46,” added Steuart. “Really, really helped us out. Helped your community out and made a bad situation have a good ending.”

Since FOX 46’s original story aired, Downey says he has received support from the Charlotte community over what happened.

“It makes me feel good as a trucker to see Americans stand behind us during this time,” he said. “And we promise, we’ll stand behind you too.”

Both tow companies say they have now suspended a majority of their operation. Downey says he was told by Walmart that the warning signs have been taken down and towing will not be enforced during this time.

  • File a price-gouging complaint with the state here
  • File a price-gouging complaint or report violations of the stay-at-home order by downloading the CLTplus app
  • Read the towing ordinance here

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