Towing Troubles On Gamedays At Private Lot Near UTEP

POSTED: 09:45 AM MDT Jul 12, 2012    UPDATED: 09:17 AM MDT Sep 23, 2010 
EL PASO, Texas -

If you're a Miners fan, you probably know the parking situation near UTEP can present a bit of a challenge on gamedays.

Erin Torres thought she'd avoided that challenge by parking at the Miners Market shopping strip on North Mesa street last Saturday before the Battle of I-10 game.

"It never crossed my mind that I would get towed because I was eating at Chicago's (Street Food restaurant)," she said.

That's because Torres and other customers at the restaurant were under the impression they could park at the building's lot as long as they were paying customers at the restaurant.

"The owners were telling everybody that even if you wanted to park in front of the restaurant and go to the game that that was fine. All we had to do was put our receipt in the window to prove we're customers so we could leave the car there for the game," explained Torres.

Turns out the towing company employed by the building's landlord, Mimco, had different instructions. The owner for El Paso Towing told ABC-7 he was given permission to tow the cars of customers who left the lot to go elsewhere.

Mimco confirmed that was the company's agreement for Saturday's game. The company said they have to protect their vendors, which is why they trust El Paso Towing to monitor the parking spaces at their properties.

Mimco was unsure why the building's tenants, including Chicago's Street Food restauarant, were telling customers they could dine at the restaurant then leave their cars safely at the lot during the entire game.

Regardless, Torres said she had not left the shopping center at the time her car was towed. She said she and a group of friends had gone to a store within that same building to purchase a drink. When they came out, she said, she and a male friend's cars were gone.

Torres never made it to the game. Instead she spent the night trying to retrieve her car from the towing yard. After presenting El Paso Towing with proof she was a paying customer at the Miner Market in the form of a receipt from Chicago's, she said she was promised by a supervisor at El Paso Towing that the towing fee would be waived.

"The only reason why I didn't get my money back I guess right then and there is that they'd already run the credit card through the machine and they were claiming that they didn't know how to process the refund," she said.

Her friend, however, was able to get his car out without paying the fee. He used the same receipt as Torres. She said days after she was promised her refund, the company's owner Efrain Sanchez told her he would not authorize it.

"They said one thing, that they were going to honor the restaurant receipt and they went back on their word," she said.

Sanchez said he only authorized Torres' friend's refund because he was unaware of the details surrounding the situation.

Upon closer examination of Torres' restaurant receipt, however, he decided not to grant her her own refund because he was still not convinced that was at the shopping center at the time of the towing. He told ABC-7 he will again offer her a refund if she can produce another receipt proving she was on the premises when her car was towed.

As for the confusion over the restaurant's parking policy, Torres said she doesn't blame Chicago's.

"I do believe that the restaurant wasn't behind it, but it hurts business because maybe I'm not going to go to that area anymore," Torres said.