Parking Taking ‘Happy' Out Of Fast-Food Customers ‘Happy Meal'

Some local fast food customers said they are not "lovin' it" at a McDonald's in their community.

They said they are up in arms over what happened to them while attempting to dine out so they called Harry Hairston and the NBC 10 Investigators.

Some Upper Darby residents said getting a bite to eat at their favorite fast food restaurant is costing them too much. Not because of food prices but problems with parking.

For some, what's happening at the Upper Darby McDonalds is taking the happy out of happy meals.

"I decide I just park there, run over to get my prescription and then go into McDonalds, come out and go home," Ruth Goodson, of Upper Darby, said.

It's a routine Ruth Goodson, 75, said she's been doing for years. Her pharmacy is right next to the McDonalds. But this time the pit stop, before dining would cost her.

"When I came out, my car was gone I just couldn't believe it cause it was such a short time," Goodson said.

Goodson said she was only in the drug store for a couple of minutes.

"I was just horrified because I said what did I do and then I looked around the lot and they had a tow truck there getting ready to tow somebody else's car," Goodson said.

"Its really bad I don't think it's right," Elsie Waring, of Upper Darby, said.

But these signs, put just a month before Goodson was towed, clearly state parking is for McDonald customers only.

So what's the beef?

Waring, who works at the Rite Aide next door, said she believes the tow company is making easy picking of senior citizens.

Waring said many seniors still aren't aware of the signs.

"By the time they time the get to the back drop off the prescription and walk to the front the car is gone," Waring said.

Upper Darby Councilman Nate Goodson is Ruth's son.

He said Tow Squad has a spotter inside McDonalds to immediately alert nearby trucks.

"It's just interesting to me that they will permit a spotter to use their facility to make sure this tow company reaps $200 per tow," Nate Goodson said.

In a written statement, McDonalds said they implemented the towing policy after customers complained about, "having difficulty finding parking."

McDonalds also said they are now working with Tow Squad to, "improve awareness of the towing policy and are reviewing their (Tow Squad) operating procedures."

"They are almost vulture-like in their approach," Upper Darby Police Chief Michael Chitwood said.

Chitwood said Tow Squad is, "totally out of control" and called their fees ridiculous.

"Over $200 to recover their vehicle, that's nuts, that's crazy," he said.

Tow Squad's owner wouldn't return any calls.

But their attorney said their rates are fair and released a statement saying in part, "Tow Squad is just doing its job," and people aren't towed, "unless they leave the lot."

Tow Squad also said it, "hopes to work with Upper Darby in achieving a mutually agreeable understanding about its services and rates."

And they'll get that chance.

Upper Darby plans to put a new law into gear later this month.

The ordinance would drive down Tow Squad's fee from $200 to $165.

But Ruth Goodson doesn't think the lower fee will hurt the company's profit too much.

"I can imagine how much money they make a day up there towing cars, cause you cannot get your car unless you pay them cash," Ruth Goodson said.

A local judge has ordered Tow Squad to reimburse at least two area residents.

One man said he was towed while eating at McDonalds.

Another said Tow Squad snatched his car just 10 minutes after he first walked into a nearby drug store.

He said he was planning to go to McDonalds next.

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