Midtown Raleigh News

McDonald’s blames property dispute for towing problem

The owners of the Triangle Town Center McDonald’s restaurant last week blamed towing issues on a property dispute with the neighboring landlord.

Gaffney Gunter, director of operations for the McDonald’s franchise, said the owner of the surrounding Kmart property has demanded the restaurant buy the extra parking spaces. McDonald’s said no, so Z.A. Sneeden’s Sons Inc. began towing fast-food customers from his property.

“We have a hostile neighbor who owns the property right next to us,” Gunter wrote to a customer. “For many years he has harassed us and our customers. His recent act of towing has been detrimental to our business.”

At least 20 people were towed from the Capital Boulevard Kmart shopping center in June, according to police records. McDonald’s and Kmart share interconnected parking lots with separate owners, and the rules aren’t clear to shoppers.

Martin Simmons, who ran afoul of the towing rules recently when he visited McDonald’s, said last week he’s now planning to go to small claims court to get the money back. Gunter says McDonald’s has reimbursed towing fees for several customers whose meals got a lot less happy when their car went missing. Some, he said, had been charged up to $150 by Ace Towing.

McDonald’s has filed a complaint with the state attorney general and the Better Business Bureau about the towing practices, Gunter said. But he thinks the situation might be improving. After a chat with the new manager of Kmart, Gunter says he got a promise that towing would stop after June 7.

But the Raleigh Police Department’s records show tows continued throughout June, with 15 tows there after June 7.

Ace Towing’s Reuben Massey says he follows Raleigh’s maximum $100 fee rule and continues to tow as requested. “If we are called upon by Sneeden’s Sons to tow vehicles, it’s our job and we’ll do it in accordance with local and state regulations,” he said.

Z.A. Sneeden’s Sons has not responded to multiple calls seeking comment.