October 30, 2014

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UMass to reimburse owners of 180 towed vehicles

The University of Massachusetts will be reimbursing the owners of 180 vehicles that were towed from a parking lot near the North Residential Area early yesterday morning, according to a University official.

Maria Uminski/Collegian

“We are sorry for any inconvenience,” said UMass spokesman Ed Blaguszewski. “We want to extend our goodwill and understand that things did not go the way they should have.”

A miscommunication between Residential Life, Parking Services, and students and their families left many unaware of temporary restrictions that had been placed on the parking lot, which is known as Lot 44. The lot was closed to support a new move-in system that required the east side of campus to check in there.

“There was no barrier or sign, and the lot was full,” said junior Heather Trainor, whose car was towed.

Eddie Hull, the executive director of Residential Life, contests claims that students were not informed of the lot closure.

Hull said that an email went out to Lot 44 permit holders “almost two weeks” ago informing them of the change. In addition, he said that students were reminded of the closure at check-in, flyers were placed at entrances to the residence halls and the lots were barricaded.

In an email to a Massachusetts Daily Collegian reporter last night, Hull wrote: “I think you will agree that we did a good job in putting students in a position to be successful and avoid this unhappy circumstance.”

But many students still think they weren’t adequately informed of the change.

“They said they did everything they could,’’ said Trainor. “But 300 people didn’t get the message.”

Trainor currently holds a permit for the lower parking garage, which allows her to park in Lot 44. She said she didn’t receive an email informing her of the closure.

Lines at Ernie’s Towing – the company UMass contracts for towing services – were out the door yesterday as students and parents paid a $100 fee to retrieve their cars, according to people who were at the facility.

“It was pretty unpleasant,” said sophomore Emily Glick.

Once their cars were returned, motorists found $40 tickets – issued by Parking Services – on their windshields.

Many students were told to direct their complaints to Residential Life and Parking Services.

“I went to a cop and the cop told us to complain to housing and parking,” said Trainor. “There was a lot of pointing fingers.”

As of last night, Blaguszewski still could not say who made the call to have the cars towed or explain the logistics of the miscommunication. However, he did say that there would be an evaluation of the move-in.

“We will get together over the next few days and look at what we could do better,” said Blaguszewski.

According to Blaguszewski, upon hearing about the incident, Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy decided to waive the tickets and reimburse motorists for any fines associated with the towings.

“There were a lot of great activities and successes this weekend,” Blaguszewski added. “We don’t want people to focus on this incident. We want them to feel good about UMass.”

Those seeking reimbursement should contact Parking Services at 413-545-0065.

Katie Landeck can be reached at klandeck@student.umass.edu

 

Comments
11 Responses to “UMass to reimburse owners of 180 towed vehicles”
  1. mason says:

    Wow 18,000 dollars in revenue for the towing company in a single night.

  2. Ray says:

    I think Mr Eddie Hull needs to be educated. Why did no bells go off that so many cars were being towed? They knew the number because they also wrote the tickets.
    Eddie Hull should know that the fish rots from the head down :-(

  3. Ryan says:

    Regardless of notifying the students, the lot should have been barricaded. On the weekend, all UMass lots are open to the public for parking which means people other than permit holders could be occupying the lot.

  4. Cynthia says:

    As a mother of a student, I was irate. We were told that a few mischievous students “removed the signs and the barricades.” Please…towing began at 11:00 Saturday night and continued into Sunday morning. Even an employee who was told to park there while she gathered materials from her office was towed. What a warm welcome to UMass. I can see if one or two cars were errantly parked, but 200? Did they not see a problem with this? And what about the text-alerts that the kids were supposed to get when their car is in danger of being towed? That system didn’t work either. Ernie’s main lot was too small to store all the cars, so most of them were put in a lot in Northampton. After waiting in line for nearly 2 hours in the blazing hot sun, we had to then shuttle to the other lot to retrieve our cars. Unbelievable. My heart goes out to those poor kids who were panicking and agonizing over not being able to buy books because they had to pay for this foolishness (even though UMass now says that they will reimburse all monies). $18,900 for Ernie’s towing for one night and $7,200 for UMass. Not bad for one night of work. Seems a little premeditated to me. Shame on you, UMass and Ernie’s as well.

  5. Cynthia says:

    I meant it began Sunday night and continued into Monday morning. Sorry about that…I am still quite annoyed.

  6. Ed says:

    Why is Eddie Hull still a UMass employee?

    And why is Parking Services having to pay for Residence Life’s mistake?

    Why?

  7. Emily says:

    WHY DOES EDDIE HULL STILL WORK AT THIS SCHOOL?? He so clearly does not give a damn about students. It’s totally shameful that students’ tuition & fees and the MA taxpayers’ hard-earned money still continue to pay his salary. Unbelievable that he could be so callous.

  8. dennis says:

    For the inconvenience that these kids have had to suffer the school should not only reimburse them for the tow and the ticket but they should also reimburse them the $300 they paid for the yearly parking pass. Just as a gesture of goodwill for the time they had to spend waiting in line for the car and the time they will have to wait to get reimbursed. It would be the proper thing to do.

  9. Arthur Hastings says:

    This happens every year and it’s not pranksters removing signs. Signs are never posted. I watched them tow all these cars. They did it at 2 in the morning. Suspicious. I’m just glad this year the Daily collegian and reporters at Mass live published the story. Otherwise I’m sure no one would be getting a refund. A big thank you to Katie Landeck and the others who reported this story, you are the ones keeping Eddie Hull and the other pranksters in office responsible. Keep up the good work and good reporting.

  10. Cathy says:

    Having a car on campus may seem like a privilege but my daughter will be working off campus. I have a lot of respect for her. This whole towing situation was shameful. Reimbursing the parking fee would be a nice gesture.

  11. ktabz says:

    I’ve been out of school for 7 years now and have worked for 3 of the largest companies in the world and have had many government organizations for clients. UMass parking servies is still the worst bureaucracy i’ve encountered. the place is designed to rip people off. i might have been the least surprised person on the planet when this story broke. this crap has been going on for years.

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