SAN ANTONIO – Lupe Gomez was stuck with a nearly $800 fee to get her car back after it had been stolen in June.
The car is now back in her driveway, inoperable and suffering interior damage, after police found the Toyota Camry on Sept. 24.
It wasn’t until Oct. 17 when Gomez received notice from Toyota that she found out her car was sitting in UR Vehicle Management Solutions impound lot off Growdon Road.
The fee to get her car back? $790.90 — a charge that grew by the day.
“I said, ‘I don’t think we should have to pay those fees.' And they go, 'Everybody has to pay.' I said, ‘That’s not fair. We never got notification,’” Gomez said. “She goes, ‘No, you got notification.’”
Gomez said staff at the lot would not work with her to answer questions, so her mother-in-law paid the fee to get the car back.
Gomez then called the Defenders to get answers.
The city of San Antonio contracts with UR VMS to operate the lot. The San Antonio Police Department oversees that contract.
The Defenders called police and got the wheels turning.
“We found that the certified letters we sent didn’t have the right address,” said Sgt. Jesse Salame, with the SAPD. “That was a mistake on the part of the contract company.”
Salame said an SAPD officer called Gomez the day her car was recovered, but could not reach anyone. The impound lot sent certified letters to Gomez at the wrong address and also sent letters to Toyota.
After discovering the address mix-up, the company refunded Gomez’s mother-in-law $632 dollars — all but the towing fee.
"If you (Defenders) hadn't have contacted us, we wouldn't have known about this,” Salame said. “We really shouldn’t have had to get involved.”
Salame said SAPD is working with UR VMS to try to prevent another mix-up.
“I believe they only moved quicker because you (Defenders) were involved,” Gomez said. “The point was that I don’t think we should have had to go through that.”
Owners of stolen cars must pay towing and other storage fees — the same as owners of cars impounded under other circumstances. Here’s a breakdown of those fees:
Light-duty tow fee: $158
Impound fee: $20
Storage fee: $20 per day plus tax
Notification fee (after first certified notification is sent, but no sooner than 24 hours): $50
Dolly fee (if applicable): $30
Towing fees are higher for “medium- and heavy-duty tows.” The storage fee is $35 per day for vehicles longer than 25 feet. There are also fees for hazardous material cleanup, if necessary.
If you feel you have an issue with a vehicle stored at the UR VMS lot, you can contact a supervisor by calling 210-431-8221, or emailing supervisorURVMS@unitedroadtowing.com.
If you have a story you would like the Defenders to look into, call 210-351-1212, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.