CONSUMER DAMN THAT TOW TRUCK MAN

If Allan Coker is not the most hated man in Dallas, it’s only because few people know who he is. But mention Coker’s company, Tejas Wrecker Service, and you’re scratching the psychic blackboards of legions of angry towees.

Tejas tows approximately 8,000 unfortunates per year, Coker says. Like the inmates on Death Row, every single one claims to be innocent, and they’re all apoplectic with rage when they arrive at the Tejas headquarters on Main to bail out their cars at a cost of $47.40-cash only, remember.

Being sans wheels in Deep Ellum at 3 a.m. may seem to define helplessness. But the citizen whose car is held hostage does have a few rights under local ordinances. If you really think you’re innocent- if, for instance, there was no warning sign posted-these steps may help you get a refund and a bit of vengeance:

1. Get your car out immediately and keep your receipt. Thestorage cost is $5 per day, andthere’s a $25 “paperwork”charge after a week.

2. Call the TransportationRegulation Division of the cityof Dallas at 670-3161 and explain your complaint to one ofthe investigators.

3. If the investigator buys yourstory, the city can slap thewrecker service with a violationof Section 48A of the DallasCity Code. The service mustthen refund your towing fee.Some twenty people got refundsduring the past year.

4. One more note: if youcome upon your car beingtowed, the city code says thedriver must release the vehiclethen and there, with no fee.

Coker. who has been towed twice himself, is fearless when it comes to his trade. He’s been snarled at and shot at, and he once towed an FBI agent’s car that was parked in front of an IRS office. Tejas does not grant diplomatic immunity to federally owned cars.

It’s small comfort to those who’ve fallen into Coker’s clutches, but the situation could be worse. Coker would like to see Dallas towing businesses run like they do in some Northern cities, where a charge is made on a car the moment a wrecker is dispatched to pick it up. And if violators don’t claim their cars within ten days, the vehicle is dumped in the river to be used as breakwater.

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