Miami Beach Parking Lot Might Be Tremont Towing's Scummiest Scam

There's a new twist to the ol' South Beach towing racket. At 17th Street and Lennox Avenue, just north of Lincoln Road, there's a parking lot that looks identical to scores of other nearby city-run lots. To pay, there's an electronic meter, just like all the city meters scattered around.

But here's the catch: The lot is privately owned, and if you pay in a nearby city meter instead of the one machine in the lot, Tre­mont Towing trucks are ready to pounce. The setup has led to scores of complaints and action by the city, which recently forced the owners to post more visible signs. "We had a rash of folks coming in [to complain]," Miami Beach Parking Director Saul Frances says.

The changes haven't been enough, though, critics say. Take the case of Kris Conesa, a freelance journalist (and, full disclosure, former New Times staffer). Just before 3:30 p.m. on a Saturday during the height of Miami Music Week, Conesa eased his black Mercedes-Benz CLK 350 into the lot. Noticing a line of people waiting to pay at the lot's only meter, Conesa skipped across the street and paid at another machine.

He placed his ticket, which would expire at 5:13 p.m., on the dashboard and headed to Dylan's Candy Bar on Lincoln Road, where he and his girlfriend shared Slush Puppies.

When he returned, his ride was gone. Tremont had towed the Benz less than an hour after he parked it and charged him $241 to get it back. Conesa says the lot's two signs are barely visible.

"Since their machine looks exactly like the city's, I assumed it was the city that rented out the lot for the busy weekend," he says. "They could of have had an attendant there, but they chose to just have a deceptive meter."

Lot owners Andrew Mirmelli and Solomon Mayberg did not respond to two messages left on their cell phones for comment. But a Tremont manager, who identified himself only as Chris, says it is Conesa's fault for not reading the lot's signs more carefully. "That's what the signs are there for," he adds, "to point people to the right meter."

Riptide checked out the lot, and it's easy to overlook the signs. One is a green metal square nailed to a tree trunk. The other is white with busy red type that's obscured when there's a crowd waiting to pay the meter.

Frances had Tremont change the signage just two weeks ago to make the type more legible, and says he's had only two complaints since then. He says he's powerless to do more to help parkers.

"It's a free-enterprise issue," he explains. "They don't have to honor parking tickets purchased from a city-operated meter. We feel badly about it."

Free enterprise or not, Conesa complains the city is helping the tow firm entrap drivers. "They have gone out of their way to fool unwitting drivers to park their cars there," he grouses. "It is an outright scam."

 
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14 comments
Datrebor
Datrebor

They may well be a scam but why on earth would you go out of a lot to pay at another station? Unless they are all connected by the meter even if owned by the same people you should pay in that lot. How would they know which lot you were in if you paid else where? Think about it.

mundovibe
mundovibe

I had cars towed twice by these vultures, they are the lowest form of bottom feeder out there. If you go to their lot and complain at all the cops are there in a flash. Need I say more? Just one more reason I am sooo glad I left South Beach and Miami forever! People, you don't need to live like this, get out!

mjorizondo
mjorizondo

I'm left wondering if the fact that the dude was driving a Mercedes-Benz CLK 350 would really matter in any other reporters eyes in any other city. Enough to hyperlink it even.

tenzenone10
tenzenone10

Count me among the bamboozled :( Is this too big to stop? Are you going to picket the lots? I thought it would be a good idea to stand out there for a few hours and warn people to not park there. That could save a lot of people from this awful experience. You mentioned a campaign. I am curious as too your plans. I got towed at 17th Street and Lennox Avenue, just north of Lincoln Road. What really angers me is that there are a lot of people in Miami that are honest, hard working, following the rules, and not cheats. This just reinforces the image of Miami being a shady place and hurts everyone. I would like to get my money back.

housebucks
housebucks

Boycott JLo for glamorizing these jerks with a tv show. Not saying I would do it and I am not advocating anyone should break the law, but vehicles don't work so well with slashed tires and/or a little kerosene in the gas tank.

sobebaby
sobebaby

I saw Beach Towing George take down 3 barricades to a parking lot on 5th street - Just so the cars could enter...just so he could then tow them...just so Beach Towing could bank $145 each...just another day in the day.

ferrerg87
ferrerg87

miami beach city and police dept are corrupt, they do any trick to get your money they are bunch of scum.

housebucks
housebucks

Likewise not only did they tow my car there, but a handicapped placard was visible hanging from my rear view mirror. Since I hadn't parked in a true handicap space, I had no recourse. I believe that Beach tow has a similar lot on 65th St between Collins and Indian Creek. Scum!

Scam
Scam

There's a similar parking lot right next to Burgers and Beers on Bay Road. We live in Miami Beach so we have the "i-Park"which is an In-Vehicle parking meter. Basically a small machine that you put on your dashboard that works as a meter. Anyway, we put that on the dashboard just like we do for any other metered lot at the beach and went to eat. Less than an hour later, they had towed my boyfriend's car.....get this........ACROSS THE STREET. That's where their lot is. He had to pay $210 for a block of towing and less than an hour of the car being there. They told us the same thing- our meter was useless because it was a PRIVATE lot, not the city's even though the meter looks exactly the same. And of course our i-Park was running the whole time. One of the biggest scams and I'm glad it's coming to light.

swinghigh
swinghigh

Dunkin Donuts outcome - victim had to pay tow driver $140 cash to drop his car.

swinghigh
swinghigh

Last week I saw the police in Dunkin Donuts parking lot helping a tow operator bully a tow victim. I told the cop the victim arrived as the tow truck was pulling up to the victim's car, so vehicle must be dropped wth fee waiver. But cop told me I was wrong. But I am right, according to the Ordinance and the Towing Permit..

swinghigh
swinghigh

Tremont and Beach Towing hire Miami Beach police as security guards and pay them overtime. And that overtime goes towards the policeman's pension benefits. No wonder the police always side with the tow company.

The towing Bill of Rights is USELESS. It does not protect citizen's rights. (i.e. where is drop fee waiver, and did you ever wonder what a Class C tow was?)

royalbebe
royalbebe

Tremont hasalways been a scam, they towed my truck, the receipt was on the window and I had 2 hours left.  When I went to pick up the truck, they said they didnt have it,  I had to call Miami Beach Police who indeed stated that Tremont had it.......when they finally got it to their lot on the beach (they said it was in Miami) it was toltaly wrecked and crashed on the passenger side....the refused to take reposnibility for any of it, yelled and screamed at me in front of a cop, who was obviously their friend as he went in te office and hung out with them and I had to pay over 400.00.......it was a total scam.....

 
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