A delightful evening out in the west end of Hartford turned into a major hassle for a West Hartford couple who discovered their car was towed while having dinner.
Tom Connolly and Carol Vinick had a lovely dinner with friends at one of their favorite places, the Abyssinian Restaurant, on June 12.
They were aware that there is a major parking issue for restaurant patrons around the restaurants and businesses in the area.
"We sat down at Abyssinians's Restaurant and asked the staff if we were OK parked in front of Tisane's. He recommended that we move our car to the spots behind Fed-Ex Office in the spaces with the yellow lines. I knew what he was talking about since I had been parking there for the past few years. I parked between two yellow lines, right in front of the sign that said parking was allowed between certain hours for Abyssinian's as well as 4 or 5 other restaurants on that block," Connolly told me.
"When we left the restaurant I was shocked to find that my car was gone," Connolly said. He went into the Fed-Ex store and called the three towing companies that were authorized to tow illegally parked cars behind the store. All told him they did not have his car.
He then called police and reported his 9-year-old Volvo stolen. After making checks, police told him that Whitey's of Hartford had towed his vehicle.
It cost Connolly $113 in cash to get his car back and he had to do it at midnight at Whitey's lot, when the company was open to permit owners to pick up their towed vehicles. Whitey's staff told him that it was Tisane's security that called the towing company asking that Connelly's car be towed because Abyssinian had failed to pay for its portion of the cost of the parking space.
"When we went to Tisane's, the security guard confirmed that he had our car towed even though we were legally parked in front of the sign that clearly states that parking is allowed. He stated that Abyssinian did not pay their parking fees so he had our car towed," Connolly said, adding that the security guard noted that the sign should probably be removed.
Connolly wrote to Tisane's demanding that the restaurant, which up to that time had also been one of his favorites, to pay the towing charge and to apologize to him. The same day one of his neighbors told him he should contact the Watchdog to see if I could help.
Connolly provided me copies of his restaurant bill - time stamped - as well as the towing ticket.
I called Tisane's - one of my favorite restaurants also - and got ahold of manager Erick Williams, who said he would investigate Connolly's complaint. It seems that the part-time security guard is also a part-time Whitey's employee.
That same day Williams contacted me to say Tisane's had made a big mistake.
He wrote the following to Connolly:
"I was just made aware of your unpleasant experience today. After some investigating I was able to determine that there was absolutely some miscommunication and mistakes made by our staff that evening; and for that, we are sorry. Here at Tisane, we take customer service to heart and always will make every effort to make sure it stays that way. Unfortunately, in this case it is apparent that we made a mistake and to make things right, we absolutely will take care of your $113 fine. In addition, for your time and inconvenience we would like to also give you a $50 gift card that can be used at any of our restaurants (Tisane, Plan B, Half Door)."
Connolly said he was pleased with the way Tisane responded. He said he would give the $50 gift certificate to his friend who suggested that he contact the Watchdog.
At first I thought it was a fair way for Tisane to respond to the issue. Upon reflection I think another $200 gift certificate should be sent to Connolly for the seriousness of the error and the time and effort he had to go through to get his car back at midnight.
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