Lethal dropped: Tow co. loses UVA deal

You won't see Lethal Wrecker trucks on Grounds at UVA– or, at least, you won't see the company towing any cars.

According to Parking and Transportation Director Rebecca White, the university ended its contract with Lethal on April 7, citing mistreatment of customers– specifically, unwillingness to accept official UVA ID cards. According to White, Director of Procurement Eric Denby officially ended the contract and notified Lethal owner George Morris.

While Morris declined to comment on this latest event, the Hook has reported numerous incidents in which towing customers have accused his company of abusive practices. Most recent was a March 25 Fearless Consumer column ["Lethal rules"] in which UVA employee Barbara Hatcher claimed that after being towed by Lethal, Morris and office manager Donielle Messner refused to accept her valid UVA ID and insisted that she pay cash, even though the company was supposed to allow UVA students and employees to write checks.

UVA isn't the only institution to question Lethal's practices. Local AAA members have alleged that Lethal drivers have demanded cash for towing that, according to AAA's membership contract, should have been free. Three such incidents have been reported in Fearless Consumer columns [May 9, 2002, and June 5 and 12, 2003]. After the third allegation, AAA Mid-Atlantic officials met with Morris to review their contract.

Randy Green, director of public relations for the auto club's Mid-Atlantic division, stated after the June 2003 meeting that Morris "assured us that he is going to fix these past mistakes and not repeat them." No more occurrences have been reported by AAA members to the Hook.

As reported in the March 25 Fearless Consumer column, one of the UVA incidents that led to the contract termination (of which White says there were "three or four") involved damage to a car Lethal had towed. Lethal settled the claim out of court.

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