Yeehaw! I’m in receipt of my $115, and would like to say Thank you to Harris Teeter! While the situation was SO not fun, I am extremely grateful that Harris Teeter took time to acknowledge the incident, and in the end return my money. Each of us had some accountability and I would have prefered for it never to have happened, but lesson learned, I will NEVER park at Harris Teeter again, I will use “retail” lot, and I can still shop at Harris Teeter! I was rather afraid I would have to resort to a boycott on principle (let’s be honest, me not shopping there again would not have affected their bottom line) and I love Harris Teeter. Besides, its the only store in a 10 miles radius that sells Citrus Cooler Gatorade – my fav!
Sweet! Harris Teeter emailed me yesterday and said that the entire situation never should have happened, and that I will get my money back! Yippee! I’m now waiting to connect via phone with David George, the VP of Asset Protection to discuss the situation further, but I’m extremely glad – and rather impressed – that they are addressing the situation.
And while I may have used the term assholes to describe those involved in the situation, which as my Mother so nicely pointed out to me, was not how I was raised and cast a cloud over my otherwise well written post; at least I did not assault anyone over it. Though my hubby did do an epic job of assaulting our car mirror.
So I haven’t heard a peep from Harris Teeter – not the assistant manager I spoke with, nor the corporate office. And it’s not for lack of trying either. I’ve posted to their Facebook page, sent multiple tweets and a letter to their customer service team – which I will post below, and let’s not forget the time I spent actually discussing the situation in person at the store. So here’s the letter I wrote to the corporate customer service team. Perhaps at some point, Harris Teeter will listen to me.
On Saturday, January 1, 2011, my husband and I went to Harris Teeter in Potomac Yard to do some grocery shopping. We purchased some products, and left to visit friends who live above Harris Teeter, in a condo complex managed by Armstrong Management. We have been told on multiple occasions, by Armstrong Management that parking at Harris Teeter was allowed until 12pm. We intended to finish our grocery shopping after our dinner, and when our baby daughter had fallen asleep so we didn’t believe it would be a problem as we were patronizing Harris Teeter – and not only once that night, but twice. However, when we returned at about 9:50pm our car was gone from the Harris Teeter parking lot.
We went inside to ask the Allied Barton security guard (her name was Tiana G.) if she had seen anything, and she replied no, but perhaps the car had been towed. She was then asked if she had authorized the towing. Again, she replied no, she did not have that authority. We went upstairs to ask the management company if they had the car towed. The reply was no, they did not tow cars from the Harris Teeter parking lot. However, he did know the towing company used by Harris Teeter, and called them to verify that our car had been towed. We returned to Harris Teeter to relay this information to the assistant manager on duty, Rudy, said to come back in the morning and that the store manager would be able to assist us with who had our car towed, and that is should not be a problem to be refunded our $115.
Once we retrieved our car, by driving to a dark and seedy area (with our infant daughter in the car) we were told by the towing operator that they were given authorization, and showed us proof of signature. I was appalled to discover that the Allied Barton security guard, who is contracted by Harris Teeter (as told to me by the assistant manager Jay Tracy) had authorized the tow, even though she had denied to my face that she had the ability to do that. I returned to Harris Teeter and asked her about it, and again, she denied that she had authorized A-1 Towing to tow my car, but acknowledged it was her signature.
The next day, Sunday, January 2, 2011, I spoke with Jay Tracy, the assistant manager, and he told me in no instances does Allied Barton have the authority to tow my car. Nor did Harris Teeter authorize my car to be towed via Allied Barton and A-1 Towing. He also said that while unfortunate, he could not help with any satisfaction towards getting our money returned – a direct contradiction of what the assistant manager the night before had told us.
I am extremely disappointed and very angry that 1. Harris Teeter towed my car when I am, and have been for a while now, a loyal customer; 2. Harris Teeter did not authorize the security guard to tow my car, yet she did it anyway, and then lied about it 3. Harris Teeter employs unethical and rude contract workers 4. Their workers are extremely uninformed as to protocol and who has authorization to tow; whether it’s the management company or Harris Teeter or Allied Barton Security. 5. The predatory towing practices of the A-1 Towing company that Harris Teeter has contracted with and finally, the unresponsiveness that Harris Teeter has shown to my complaint.
I have spoken with Armstrong Management and they stated to me that they do not contract with A-1 Towing to tow cars from the Harris Teeter parking lot, because in Harris Teeter’s lease agreement the parking lot is controlled by Harris Teeter. Why then was Allied Barton who was not authorized, as told to me by Jay Tracy of Harris Teeter, the company that towed my car? Every company involved in this is blaming another company, and it’s extremely frustrating as a loyal customer. It’s unconscionable that a company says I can only park for two hours to do my shopping (with a baby that is sometimes extremely difficult) and then when that’s over tells me that they have no idea who towed my car, but that they did not authorize it, and don’t know who did. This has been a horrible experience.
We shall see if they say anything. As of now, it’s still quiet.
I am so mad right now I can hardly see straight. Last night, hubby and I took Baby R to Harris Teeter to do some grocery shopping. While on our way there, our friends – who happen to live above HT – called and invited us to dinner. Since we were going to be there anyway, we accepted. We parked at Harris Teeter, as we have done all the other times in the past 3 years we’ve been visiting that area, did a bit of shopping, and then headed up to our friends. We were planning on finishing our shopping after dinner as the baby would be asleep and the store less crowded. Fast forward a few hours and when we went down to the car to get the stroller to finish shopping, our car was GONE. And not just gone, TOWED.
In my entire life, I’ve never been towed. Ever. We talked to the security guard, an Allied Barton employee, but contracted to work for Harris Teeter, and she said she had no idea what we were talking about because she has nothing to do with towing. We walked upstairs to the management desk, and were told that they didn’t handle towing downstairs, Harris Teeter did. The desk called the towing company and discovered that our car was indeed in that lot. So now, its 10:30 at night and we are headed to a dark, scary towing lot to pick up our car with our 10 month baby in the car (our friends had come downstairs shortly after we discovered our car missing). We paid $115 to get our car back, and learned from the towing company that the security guard is the one who authorized the tow. The SAME guard who just a short time before told us that she didn’t know what we were talking about and had no authorization to tow cars from the parking lot.
So, now I am beyond mad, and we head back to Harris Teeter to ask the guard why she lied point-blank to my face. Of course she denied that she lied, and denied she had authorization to tow my car – even after I received confirmation that it was HER SIGNATURE on the towing authorization slip. By this time it was almost midnight and we weren’t getting anywhere with Allied Barton or Harris Teeter (whose assistant manager told us to come back in the morning to figure things out with the store manager).
Needless to say I got up this morning and went over to Harris Teeter to discuss the situation with the manager. I talked to a nice man who said that Harris Teeter has nothing to do with towing, that Allied Barton was contracted through Harris Teeter, but that the guards have no authorization to tow cars, and that he was sorry but couldn’t do anything because it was the management company’s policies. Now, my friend, who lives in the building has already been in touch with Armstrong Management – the company in charge – and they said that because Harris Teeter’s lease is written in such a way that they own the parking lot that towing is THEIR business not Armstrong management’s.
So, I’m getting the blame game from Harris Teeter and the management company. Harris Teeter says its Armstrong Management’s problem and Armstrong Management says it Harris Teeter’s problem. Whoever’s problem it is, you can be sure that I am not going to let this go. I want my $115 back. There is no reason that 1. as a patron of Harris Teeter I can’t park there without worrying I’ll be towed, and 2. I should be towed after being told multiple times by Armstrong Management employees that I can park at Harris Teeter until 12am without being towed.
So now, I’ve got multiple letters to write to Armstrong Management, Harris Teeter, Allied Barton, AND the Better Business Bureau. What a great way to start 2011, and end my otherwise great vacation. Stupid assholes.
And the coup de grace? Hubby backs out of the spot at Harris Teeter (which are extremely tight) and takes off the passenger mirror by hitting the pole. Awesome.