MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. (FOX 46) – At least two trucking companies that came to the Queen City this week to deliver needed food and supplies left with a boot – and a bill for thousands of dollars.
“Guys like this are trying to put a business out of business,” said Chris Steuart, the vice president of Texas-based trucking company Norco. “And we need to survive.”
The day before Mecklenburg County’s stay-at-home order went into effect, Tip Towing slapped a boot on one of Norco’s trucks, forcing the company, which has a fleet of refrigerated carriers, to pay $3000 to have it removed – after their driver just delivered more than 25,000 pounds of meat to a grocery distribution center, Steuart said.
“Most of the restaurants are closed so he went to a grocery store to get something to eat, parked in an adjacent, vacant lot,” said Steuart. “When he came out the truck was booted and the towing company demanded $3000 to un-boot it.”
“He was in a panic for sure,” he said of his driver. “It’s a lot of money.”
It happened around 1:45 pm at a lot near the Asian Corner Mall located at 4520 N. Tryon St. in Charlotte. On its website, Tip Towing’s slogan says: “We are always on our tows.”
“They told us if we didn’t pay them the $3,000,” said Steuart, “they were going to tow it and we’d owe them $4,000.”
FOX 46 is working to get results for the company. Investigative reporter Matt Grant pressed Tip Towing’s owner, Alan Brown, by phone if he would refund the money, given the circumstances.
Brown says they were just doing their job.
“We are not a predatory company,” he said.
Brown claims Norco’s driver was sleeping in the vacant lot “for five hours” and had ignored multiple posted signs warning that the lot was considered private property and that violators would be towed.
Steuart denies that his driver was sleeping. He sent FOX 46 satellite tracking data which tracks the truck’s movements. He insists his driver was only in the supermarket for about 30 to 45 minutes and walked out to find the truck had been booted and rendered immobile.
“If you’ve got paperwork showing [the driver] dropped that food-run off, like a half-an-hour before he got booted, and he was just sitting in his truck for a few minutes and got booted,” said Brown, “I would absolutely refund that money.”