Member Login


calendar

tdlr


deal





>

The Cost of a TDLR Complaint

Written By Brian Edward Walters, Attorney at Law

    TDLR complaints are a frequent hassle when operating a towing company or vehicle storage facility in Texas.  All that is required for a complaint is for a disgruntled customer to log on and find one item to complain about. It could be something serious like an overcharge or an unlicensed operator or it could be as simple as not having the correct website for justices of the peace on your VSF invoice. Either way, one complaint can trigger a full TDLR investigation of your private property or incident management towing practices.

    In private property tows, complaints typically arise from someone who (rightly or wrongly) believes that they had the right to leave their vehicle on property.  When that happens, they will usually do some ad-hoc legal internet research and find the Texas Towing and Booting Act.  Once they find the Texas Towing and Booting Act, they will try to point to every single problem that they believe exists on a parking facility and use that as the reason they should “never have been towed.” 

    The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (“TDLR”) is tasked with investigating consumer complaints. Investigators then reach out to your towing company or VSF and ask for a host of documents.  Many times, the documents that are requested are just a boilerplate list of items that may or may not have anything to do with the tow that generated the complaint.  Remember – investigators are not attorneys.  They typically do not know Texas law.  They also do not know that there are limits on what they can ask for and what goes too far.  Given those facts, it is not surprising that you end up with a shotgun-style approach to what should be a simple and limited investigation. An investigator’s only job is to review the facts and see if they believe a violation occurred. However, a prosecutor (an attorney) is the person who determines whether formal charges will be brought against your license. 

If an investigator determines that there is a likely violation (or feels you are not responsive and cooperative), he or she will forward that complaint to a prosecutor who will determine whether TDLR should bring an enforcement action against your company’s license.  Typically, TDLR enforces against the towing company or vehicle storage facility rather than against one employee who made a mistake. Additionally, once TDLR issues a “Notice of Alleged Violation,” you have very limited time to respond to the allegations and work out any possible deal before the allegations are set for a hearing before an administrative law judge.  Thus, time is of the essence at all phases of investigation and prosecution.

At this point, it is clear that a complaint can quickly snowball into a massive financial drain.  Every moment that you spend working on or defending claims (whether good or bad) is time that you cannot spend making money and growing your business.  The real cost of a complaint is not just the fine that you end up with, it is also the time and money you lose defending against those allegations.  Given that most tows involve a relatively small amount of money, you will quickly burn through the profit margin of a tow defending a complaint and end up with a net loss that can be in the thousands of dollars.

The point of this article is not to intimidate folks in the industry. Rather, it is to make you aware of just how much money can be lost based on what one disgruntled customer can do with 10 minutes to spare and an internet connection.  The best defense in this case is a good offense.  That means that you need to be hyper-vigilant when performing private property tows.

Written By Brian Edward Walters, Attorney at Law

 

TDLR complaints are a frequent hassle when operating a towing company or vehicle storage facility in Texas. All that is required for a complaint is for a disgruntled customer to log on and find one item to complain about. It could be something serious like an overcharge or an unlicensed operator or it could be as simple as not having the correct website for justices of the peace on your VSF invoice. Either way, one complaint can trigger a full TDLR investigation of your private property or incident management towing practices.

 

In private property tows, complaints typically arise from someone who (rightly or wrongly) believes that they had the right to leave their vehicle on property. When that happens, they will usually do some ad-hoc legal internet research and find the Texas Towing and Booting Act. Once they find the Texas Towing and Booting Act, they will try to point to every single problem that they believe exists on a parking facility and use that as the reason they should “never have been towed.”

 

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (“TDLR”) is tasked with investigating consumer complaints. Investigators then reach out to your towing company or VSF and ask for a host of documents. Many times, the documents that are requested are just a boilerplate list of items that may or may not have anything to do with the tow that generated the complaint. Remember – investigators are not attorneys. They typically do not know Texas law. They also do not know that there are limits on what they can ask for and what goes too far. Given those facts, it is not surprising that you end up with a shotgun-style approach to what should be a simple and limited investigation. An investigator’s only job is to review the facts and see if they believe a violation occurred. However, a prosecutor (an attorney) is the person who determines whether formal charges will be brought against your license.

 

If an investigator determines that there is a likely violation (or feels you are not responsive and cooperative), he or she will forward that complaint to a prosecutor who will determine whether TDLR should bring an enforcement action against your company’s license. Typically, TDLR enforces against the towing company or vehicle storage facility rather than against one employee who made a mistake. Additionally, once TDLR issues a “Notice of Alleged Violation,” you have very limited time to respond to the allegations and work out any possible deal before the allegations are set for a hearing before an administrative law judge. Thus, time is of the essence at all phases of investigation and prosecution.

 

At this point, it is clear that a complaint can quickly snowball into a massive financial drain. Every moment that you spend working on or defending claims (whether good or bad) is time that you cannot spend making money and growing your business. The real cost of a complaint is not just the fine that you end up with, it is also the time and money you lose defending against those allegations. Given that most tows involve a relatively small amount of money, you will quickly burn through the profit margin of a tow defending a complaint and end up with a net loss that can be in the thousands of dollars.

 

The point of this article is not to intimidate folks in the industry. Rather, it is to make you aware of just how much money can be lost based on what one disgruntled customer can do with 10 minutes to spare and an internet connection. The best defense in this case is a good offense. That means that you need to be hyper-vigilant when performing private property tows.

Contact Info

  • Southwest Tow Operators
  • 660 N Central Expressway, Suite 230
  • Plano, Texas 75074
  • Toll Free: (866) 320-9300

Important Messages

I hope you like the new look! We have updated the documents (requires a login to view). The store is starting to take shape, check it out!

Copyright