Army staff sergeant refunded towing fee

- UPDATE: The Army staff sergeant says he was refunded the tow fee and court costs associated with him filing in small claims court.  He says he will withdraw the case on Friday which was scheduled for a hearing on January 5th.

"I parked my car here in the spot that's reserved for military parking," said Army Staff Sergeant Timothy Koehler. He’s getting ready for a battle in small claims court over what happened to his car over the weekend.

"When I got back here at 3:00 in the afternoon my car had been towed," he said.  It happened Saturday after he parked his car in a lot behind the Armed Forces Recruiting Center near Broad and Cecil B. Moore. The lot has signs warning parking violators will be towed by George Smith Towing.  Staff Sergeant Koehler parked in spaces designated for the recruiting center  but his car got towed.  He called  the towing company who told him he had to pay $175  to get it back.

"I eventually went to pick my car up. I paid $205 because they charged me $25 for a day of storage," he said.  When he first got to George Smith Towing on South 61st Street he thought the issue would be resolved once they realized he is in fact in the military.

"I was in full uniform. I had my I.D.  in my hand.  They never asked for it. All they asked for was my driver’s license." Staff Sergeant Koehler says instead he was told anyone who parks there must display a permit or business card in the window to legally park in the reserved spot.  I spoke with an Operations Manager for George Smith Towing on the phone. He says that's their policy. He also later  said if Staff Sergeant Koehler was dressed in uniform with military identification then he should not have been charged. The Operations Manager also agreed to meet with him to refund the fee and says it was possibly a misunderstanding.

"Absolutely not. It's too much aggravation I've already been through," said Staff Sergeant Koehler who has filed a complaint through small claims court in hopes of getting back the tow fee, court cost and pay for time he says he missed from work trying to resolve the issue.

"It's a reserved spot. Why would you pull a car out of a reserved spot if no one called and said the car was in the wrong place?" he said.

We spoke with a Sergeant who works more frequently at the recruitment office. He says he has always been told to display a business card in the dash when parking in the reserved spot.

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