City Tow Collection Settlement to Protect 72,000 Consumers, Result in Refunds of $340,000

Herrera’s Settlement Agreement with City Tow, Rickenbacker Includes Further Consumer Protections for More Recently Towed

City Attorney Dennis Herrera signed a settlement agreement with City Tow and its collection agency late yesterday in which the City’s embattled former towing contractor will refund more than $340,000 in payments made as a result of collection notices for invalid debts. The settlement, which affects approximately 72,000 claimed debts related to towing and storage fees, provides that drivers whose vehicles were towed between January 1, 1999 and June 30, 2003 will be released from all deficiency claims for towing and storage fees by City Tow, without risking adverse reports to their credit records.

Consumers who have already made payments to City Tow as a result of the more than 33,000 collection notices mailed from Rickenbacker Collections will be entitled to full refunds under the settlement, which they should expect to receive within the next 60 days. The settlement additionally ensures that if City Tow attempts to collect debts from drivers whose vehicles were towed after June 30, 2003, City Tow must provide vehicle owners with a comprehensive accounting of all fees related to the towing and storage of their cars, together with information about the auction of cars to cover part of those fees.

“This is an important win for consumers, and a strong message that the City and County of San Francisco won’t tolerate manipulation by unscrupulous companies,” Herrera said.

The City Attorney’s settlement does not affect the right of consumers to contest any towing fees on their own, should they believe those fees to be invalid. Individuals with such a claim may seek private counsel or contact the Bar Association of San Francisco’s Lawyer Referral and Information Service at (415) 989-1616 between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

For a copy of the agreement in Adobe Acrobat PDF and more information on this matter, please visit City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s Web site at