Investigations into the now-infamous A-1’s Towing in Memphis are continuing after a trucker locked himself in his rig for more than 33 hours to avoid being towed.
The owner of the rig, MHT Group Inc, says that the trucker fueled up at Shelby Express on East Shelby Drive in Memphis, Tennessee and pulled into a parking spot. As he was working to pay the parking fee though his dispatch, A-1’s booted the truck and blocked it in.
“We got a receipt. We called the gas station. We showed the receipt. We called the towing company, and they said ‘Oh, we booted you ten minutes before you had this receipt,’” said MHT Group owner, who did not want to be named.
The owner says that he offered to pay A-1’s $7,500 to release the semi truck, but A-1’s claimed that was not enough to get the rig back – and that’s when the situation began to escalate. The truck driver was captured on video saying “my company told me to just sit in my truck and see what happens,” and that he was “not going to pay anything.” In response, the A-1’s driver started “honking their horns and using the boom of the tow truck to shake the truck, so we called out the police.”
“The driver wanted to file a harassment charge against them,” said the MHT owner, “and the police said that wasn’t enough to file a harassment charge.”
The MHT owner says that, after local police refused six times to show up to the scene because of lawsuits filed against them by A-1’s, they called out the Tennessee Troopers to help with the situation, so A-1’s sent over their lawyer, reported WREG.
“Their lawyer showed up and started talking about laws, but state police shut him down and told him this is how the law works,” said the MHT owner. “Then they started telling us they lost the key to the boot and can’t do anything tonight, so state police gave my guys the authority to cut the boot off.”
The A-1’s driver also claims that the trucker physically assaulted him during the incident. All-in-all, the truck driver spent more than 33 hours inside of his truck to avoid it being towed away – and he isn’t the only trucker who has employed that strategy at the same truck stop.
Three weeks ago, truck driver Shirley Holland locked herself in her truck for several hours after she failed to pay the $13 parking fee at Shelby Express on East Shelby Drive and was booted as a result. Holland says that she tried to pay the $275 booting fee, but the A-1’s employees told her it was too late and that she would be towed. Her employer, Church Transportation, had to pay $12,950 to get the truck back.
Gene Sweeney with Church Transportation says that this isn’t the first incident they’ve had with the towing company.
“At this point, it’s a battle of the wills to see who’s going to hang in here the longest,” Sweeney said.
He admits that Holland should have paid the parking fee, but believes that A-1’s fees are not adhering to city standards.
“We deserve to be held accountable, but we need to be held accountable to the standards that are in place by the city,” he said.
The City of Memphis Permits Office has received more than a dozen complaints from truckers regarding A-1’s predatory towing tactics. The city has since released the following statement about the laws surrounding booting and towing of vehicles:
A-1’s claims that it is following state laws in its towing practices, which take precedence over city ordinances, and has filed a lawsuit against the City of Memphis, the Memphis Police Chief, and multiple MPD officers, which accuses them of “weaponizing a civil municipal ordinance to discriminate against the minority-owned company.”
The owner of MHT says that he plans to take legal action against A-1’s.
“We are not letting this go. There is a big American company I know very well, and their lawyers and my lawyers are going to work together to get something done,” the MHT owner said. “I’m not going to let it happen again.”
A Memphis City Council committee plans to discuss alleged abuses of the City’s Booting and Towing Ordinances by local companies on November 21st.