Tow trucks and their drivers get a bad rap sometimes. It is never a good thing when a car is getting towed. Either you've broken down or you've parked illegally and the car is getting impounded. Tow truck companies also often have a pretty scummy reputation. Sometimes it's because they operate in a sketchy way or tow cars for sketchy reasons. That seems to be the case of this tow truck company in Detroit, Breakthrough Towing, and they may be in cahoots with the nearby McDonalds.
If the news reports are to be believed, it seems that Breakthrough Towing has been towing a lot of cars out of a particular McDonald's parking lot. According to the Detroit Metro Times, whose offices are across the street, cars are towed on an "almost daily basis."
One poor soul that Breakthrough got was YouTuber Jason Lanier. He posted a video last week that showed from where he was towed and how much it cost him to get his car out of hock. Lanier was eating a meal at the McDonald's when the towing company, who according to signs in the parking lot is associated with the fast food restaurant, towed his SUV. It cost Lanier $485 in fees and fines to get his car out of the company's tow yard. Four-hundred and eighty-five bucks!
Lanier wasn't going to lay down over this, he was determined to fight back and did in the most 21st Century way we know, internet shaming.
According to Lanier in the video, the towing company has a "spotter" sitting in a car across the street. If the spotter suspects a car has been there too long, he'll call it in and Breakthrough will send out a truck and haul the car off. It doesn't seem to matter, according to Lanier, if the customer is at McDonald's or not. Lanier claims he was a customer at McDonald's.
A few minutes into the video, amazingly, Lanier's accusations are bolstered when a truck from Breakthrough pulls into the lot, just after Lanier identified the spotter. The truck is seen backing up towards a car, appearing as though the driver is going to hook the car up and tow it. Lanier confronts the driver and as he does, the owner of the car walks out of the McDonald's and sees what is going on. She is obviously not pleased.
Lanier tells the unidentified woman about the scam, and luckily she is not towed as it's clear that she was a customer of the restaurant.
But it gets better because next, the truck backs up and appears to be going for Lanier's SUV, AGAIN! This time though, Lanier is there and he stands between the truck and his car, with a receipt in his hand to prove he is a customer at McDonald's. After a brief confrontation with the driver of the truck, who claims he is not there to tow cars, Lanier laughs about what he believes to be an obvious scam. The signs in the McDonald's parking lot have both McDonald's and Breakthough Towing's name on them.
The video has gone viral and the Detroit weekly newspaper, The Metro Times, picked up on the story. It just so happens that their office is directly across the street and they see people being towed all the time. They ran a story and asked the manager of the McDonald's if he was aware of what was going on with his customers. It's been speculated in the YouTube comments that the two may be cahoots, but that is pure conjecture. The manager says that they do have an ongoing problem with people parking in the lot and going somewhere else. He claims, "Time and time again, people who use that parking lot go into the HopCat, go into Whole Foods."
According to the Metro Times story, the owner of the towing company said, "They call us to come get the car, we get the car," and added that they don't use spotters.
Is Breakthrough towing running a scam here? Is the McDonald's working with them on the scam? Or are people really taking advantage of the Mickey D's parking lot and eating or shopping elsewhere? It's hard to tell, though the evidence in the video says that it very well might be a scam. Watch the full video below and judge for yourself: