If you've ever walked the streets of Paris, you'll have seen the dodgy parking. Cars on pedestrian crossings, at intersections, even halfway down the steps of the Metro (in extreme cases).
In fact, there were a whopping 250,000 cars impounded in Paris last year alone, according to a report in Le Parisien newspaper on Wednesday.
This is a staggering figure, not least considering that other big cities in France like Lyon and Marseille only impound around 15,000 to 20,000 a year.
In Paris it's a hugely lucrative business apparently worth a cool €38 million annually.
Sources from some of the major private towing companies in the capital told the paper that they were under incredible pressure to deliver results each day.
One former tow truck driver said that his team was told to bring in at least ten to 12 cars each day, a quota that made those on the job desperate to cut corners.
“Some guys in Paris can even bring in as many as 25 cars a day, they're the champions of the world,” he added.
Drivers tend to target areas near the pound (meaning they didn't have to travel so far) or in areas with wide streets (which makes the job easier). This is why a driver prefers the 15th arrondissement, for example, compared to the cramped streets of the first or second arrondissements, the driver said.
Another worker said that the team would also aim to haul in light-weight cars to make their job quicker and easier, and would avoid expensive, heavy, and low-rider vehicles.
In other words, there's a reason you'll see a Porsche getting away with being parked on a pedestrian crossing – the tow truck drivers would prefer to take the mini across the road.
“I remember a time that a Ferrari had its rims ripped to shreds, that must have cost an arm and a leg,” a source told the paper.
Residents of Paris get slapped with a fine of €150 for the towing, usually coupled with a parking fine of €135. And those who are unable to collect their car straight away can expect a daily “minding fee” of €26.
While anyone who's ever visited Paris can attest that some of the parking efforts certainly deserve to be towed, it might be unfair to blame the driver, considering the number of parking spaces across Paris has decreased by a third since 2001.
Photo: Fiona Campbell/Flickr
Some have suggested that the solution is to get the city of Paris to manage the impounding, rather than private companies.
“The impounding of cars in Paris is a real scandal,” said right-wing Republican deputy Philippe Goujon, the deputy mayor of the 15th arrondissement of Paris.
“Impounding cars should not be in the hands of private companies. This is a service that the city and its people are not happy with.”
But this seems highly unlikely, with a spokesperson from the Paris police telling the paper that this would mean an investment of €15 million for equipment and another €60 million for operating costs.
Photo: Connie Ma/Flickr
Indeed, several private towing companies are set to see a renewed four-year contract in the coming days, the paper reported.