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Auto theft victim in Denver calls out towing company for multiple changes in towing quotes

Honda CRV in painting bay
Posted at 3:03 AM, May 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-10 07:30:07-04

DENVER — The owner of Clark's Auto Body on Grape Street says he's not happy that one of his cars was stolen, but he's even less so about the towing and storage fees he has to pay.

Allen Clark reached out to Contact Denver7 for help getting answers.

"I've been in the (body shop) business for 36 years," he said. "Moved to this location in December of 2019."

Clark and his crew bring classics back to life and make regular vehicles, like this Honda CRV, look new again.

Honda CRV in painting bay

One of the regular vehicles they had been working on is a Honda Odyssey minivan, which had been parked out on the street.

A thief apparently stole the van last week.

Neither Clark, nor his staff realized it was missing until the following day.

That's when they called police.

"(The officer) said normally on a stolen vehicle, you don't have to pay to pick it up," Clark said.

In this instance, Elite Towing & Recovery towed the vehicle, which had been left in an apartment complex parking lot, before it was reported stolen.

Clark said he called the towing company.

"They said there is a bill on it. It's going to be $341," he said.

That's where things really started to get interesting: Clark said he'd planned on getting a locksmith out to Elite on Saturday, so he could drive the Odyssey back to his shop, instead of paying yet another towing fee, and was told there would be an additional $60 fee to pick up the vehicle on a weekend.

"Not more than 10 minutes later, (a towing company rep) called back and apologized, and said 'I made a mistake,'" Clark said.

The mistake? The Elite employee had apparently neglected to mention an additional $150 administrative fee being tacked on because the car had been in their lot for more than two days.

Clark said couldn't believe it and called Denver7, then reached out to Elite again Sunday.

"How come your prices vary?" he asked. "Every other person I talked to, it's different."

Steven Carnes with Elite Towing and Recovery said the company just charged Clark the regular $200 towing fee, plus $30 a day for storage, and and $15 for mileage.

He said there would have been an additional $60 fee to pick it up over the weekend, because they don't have staff on hand to release vehicles on weekends, and would have to bring someone in.

When asked about the $150 administrative fee, Carnes said the state mandates that all owners and lien holders be notified if a vehicle has been held for 48 hours.

When asked why the price tag was so high, Carnes replied, "You've got to do a record search with the State of Colorado, and then do a national search if no record is found."

He said staff then has to send out registered letters to all legal owners and lien holders.

Carnes said Clark will avoid that fee if he picks up the Odyssey before 2 p.m. Monday. That's when weekday staff sends out the mail.

"I can afford to pay, but what if it was someone who couldn't?" Clark said.

Clark said he burned through savings keeping his auto body shop open during the pandemic.

He said he wants the Odyssey back so he can finish the body work, and then sell the vehicle at a profit.

He said Elite Towing & Recovery can help by doing a better job of communicating with employees, who then communicate with customers.