An Auckland man has won a battle against a towing company
after his van was illegally towed from a private car park in
Auckland's CBD, even though he did not have permission to be
The Automobile Association is claiming Steven Ooi's win at
the Disputes Tribunal as a victory for motorists, and says
the ruling could set a precedent because it raises questions
about motorists parking in business carparks after hours if
they are not causing any harm.
Super City Towing was found to have breached regulations by
not completing a tow authority - a form towing companies are
required to complete and have signed by a police officer,
traffic warden or landlord before removing the vehicle.
The tribunal also ruled in Mr Ooi's favour because he had
"caused no actual harm" by parking at the Wellesley St car
park without permission as the building was empty and it was
outside usual business hours.
The company was ordered to pay Mr Ooi $526.
Mr Ooi told the Herald he felt tow firms were making too much
money off unsuspecting drivers.
"When I went there [to the collection yard], there were
40-odd vehicles there. Imagine at $250 a pop - that's quite a
bit of money. I imagine some of them deserve it but those who
don't can fight back."
Super City Towing general manager Craig Burrows, whose firm
trades several names including Vehicle Recovery Group, First
Recovery and Amalgamated Carpark Services, said it would pay
Mr Ooi the required amount.
Last night, Mr Ooi had not received the repayment, due by
March 15, but had received an email from Super City Towing on
Monday saying it was considering appealing against the
AA principal regulatory adviser Mark Stockdale commended Mr
Ooi for standing up for his rights.
"The more people that do this, the more it will force tow
companies and clamping companies and private parking
operators to follow the rules and to have good systems in
place to minimise unauthorised parking."
Mr Stockdale said the ruling had set a precedent over
unauthorised parking in carparks after hours.
"That is a precedent in our view and I think that is
something really worth exploring with landlords, businesses
and the tow companies to understand if there's no harm.
"Does there need to be enforcement or is it just about
revenue gathering on the part of the tow companies and wheel
Auckland Towing Company director Antony Ashford said towing
companies took the regulations seriously and faced hefty
fines for non-compliance.
His company had office staff check all tow authorities had
Mr Ashford did not accept that vehicles shouldn't be towed if
they were in an unused business carpark as such removals
acted as a deterrent to vandals.
- Nikki Preston of the New Zealand Herald