Washington, DC (WUSA) -- Before they can legally tow, Maryland law requires tow companies to replace the previous standard tow warning signs with much larger (24" by 30") new signs - but some are still towing despite invalid signs.
It happened to an 80-year-old grandmother. Anne White, a long time Bethesda resident, parked in the Bank of Georgetown lot in Chevy Chase near Whole Foods.
The bank had small, posted tow-warning signs, but since it was after hours, and it was just a few minutes, White parked.
She says her car was towed from the lot in less than 15 minutes.
White's total towing charge: $298.00
Our news partners at WUSA9 brought the issue to the attention of the towing company, Diversified Recovery, and the Bank of Georgetown where White parked.
One hundred dollars for the towing charge.
Mileage -- another 48 bucks.
Storage -- $20 more.
White said she immediately called the number on the sign and says Diversified Recovery Towing told her the car had made the 20 minute commute from Chevy Chase to their Rockville lot.
To get her car back to Bethesda, Diversified charged her a second towing charge of $125 more.
Maryland state law requires tow company warning signs be 24" by 30" inches; however, even the largest sign at Bank of Georgetown parking location wasn't close to being large enough to be valid.
The towing company claims it had a properly sized sign at the Bank of Georgetown parking lot and it may have been lost in a construction project.
WUSA 9 spoke to the Bank of Georgetown branch manager who intervened on Mrs. White's behalf. Diversified Recovery issued Mrs. White a refund.
TRIAD TOWING RULES
So what are the rules in the Triad? In Guilford and Forsyth counties, any privately owned parking lot, like for a restaurant or business, has to have to a sign 24 inches by 24 inches. That's bigger than a normal poster board. The sign must also be at the entrance of the parking lot.
Maryland consumers can sue towing companies in small claims court and request four times the tow amount in damages if they were illegally towed.
In North Carolina, you can sue in small claims court for up to $4,000.
Citizens Guide To Small Claims Court
NC Courts Complaint for Money Owed Form
WUSA 9/ WFMY News 2