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Ask Deborah Awyzio Your Own Question
Deborah Awyzio
Deborah Awyzio, Solicitor
Category: Australia Law
Satisfied Customers: 863
Experience:  Bachelor of Laws (QUT), BIT (QUT), Family Law Accredited Specialist, over 12 years experience
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I'm ***** *****. My car was towed after parking minutes and

Customer Question

Hi, I'm ***** *****. My car was towed after parking for 10 minutes and I was charged $660 to release it from the holding yard. It cost me $34 to get to the yard. And the yard attendant was threatening and didn't believe I had only been gone 10 minutes and tried to charge me a "lying fee". He believed me when I explained I had still left my phone and wallet in the car and had to rely on a friends phone and money to get me to the yard. I'd like to know if it's legal to tow a car so quickly or if there's any way I can recoup the cost?
JA: Thanks. Can you give me any more details about your issue?
Customer: I was towed late on a Sunday night on Dec 27, 2015 after parking my car in an empty park in front of a closed business (which is actually owned by developers who plan to demolish - so no companies actually work in the building).I was dropping something off to a friend who was in the area (West End / South Bank) and was gone about 10 minutes (15 max). When I returned my car was gone and I saw the tow signage and realised I had been towed. I couldn't believe how quickly they had taken the car, I was left stranded as I didn't have my wallet or phone with me - I had left them in the car.I had to go back, borrow my friends phone to figure out where my car was and also book an Uber to the car yard. The Uber cost me $34.01 - they took it all the way to Albion.When I got to the car yard I was told I had to pay $660 to get the car out. A premium of an extra $110 because it was a Sunday apparently... the attendant didn't believe I was only running in and out and had been gone 10 minutes until I told him my wallet and phone where still in the car. Before I said that he said he could apply a lying fee to the $660. Unbelievable.They finally let me go to the car to retrieve my wallet and phone, but the attendant was quite intimidating in the way the he shadowed me and was talking to me.Anyway, I'd like to know if this is all legal and if I can get my money back? Taking a car after 10 minutes. Obviously predatory towing. The area was empty and being late on a Sunday night there was no business taking place nearby, especially on this lot as it is owned by developers now - although no construction had started.It really felt to me like they had stolen my car and were shaking me down and intimidating me. A simple 10 minutes errand late on a Sunday night turned into a costly $694.01 waste of money and a couple of hours of my time.
JA: OK got it. Last thing — Solicitors generally expect a deposit of about $18 to help with your type of question (you only pay if satisfied). Now I'm going to take you to a page to place a secure deposit with JustAnswer. Don't worry, this chat is saved. After that, we will finish helping you.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Australia Law
Expert:  Daniel replied 1 year ago.

Which state are you located?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Expert:  Leon replied 1 year ago.

Good Morning

My name is ***** ***** I am a NSW Solicitor. Thank you for your question, and will do my best to assist you with your question. Please understand this is not legal advise Please understand this is not legal advise but a guide to assist you.

Where was the car parked and was there any sign about being towed away? Were you required to pay a fee to park?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
It was in front of a private business premises (which is actually owned by developers who are demolishing it soon). It was late on a Sunday night so every park was empty, I only parked there for about 10 - 15 minutes. There was a sign, which I did see but I assumed that because it was late on a Sunday night I could park for 10 minutes.
Expert:  Leon replied 1 year ago.

Because there was no sign warning you, they do not have a right to take the car and you can sue them for this issue.

It is private property but they cannot just take you car without your consent.

You mention lying money? If this is a bribe you should report this to the police.

I would suggest before you take this further that you attend at the site and check and see whether they do have any sign that you may have missed and take photos and make sure that they are dated.

If there is no sign you would have a right to sue the party that towed your car for the money and any inconvenience.

I hope this makes sense and is of assistance.

If it was in a body corporate then the law changes

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
There was a sign, which I did see but I assumed that because it was late on a Sunday night I could park for 10 minutes."I said there WAS a sign.
Expert:  Leon replied 1 year ago.

Good Morning

My apology for that. I read it incorrectly

What was the wording on that sign?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
It said I'd be towed and the minimum fine is $550. They charged me $660 because it was "a Sunday". Regarding the "lying fee" they said they would charge me extra if I was lying about only being there for 10 - 15 minutes. He didn't believe me until I told him that my wallet and phone were still in the car.
Expert:  Leon replied 1 year ago.

Good Morning

If it did not have any time stipulated then they had a right to tow you. If it stated that parking longer than say 30 min would result in you being towed then they have to show you were there longer than the time on the sign. If there is no time stipulated it does not matter how long you were there.

If they charged you more than what was on the sign you have a right to sue for the difference back.

They have no right to charge you extra and they are not a judge or a jury to say you were lying. They can only charge ytou the fee they advertise.

I hope this makes sense?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
It said "minimum fee was $550". That's obvious advise, sorry...
I was expecting some sort of direction around fighting how unfair the cost and timing, especially in the circumstance - it's just ridiculous that companies are allowed to do this. I'm going to contact the ACCC, they should be able to help more than this site.