Former Nashville TV Producer Releases Video Of "Unsettling" Experience With Wrecker Firm; Black Denies Ties With Chattanooga Impound

  • Monday, May 20, 2024
Walmart towing sign
Walmart towing sign

A former Nashville TV producer, who had her pickup truck towed from the Brainerd Walmart, said a local wrecker company is giving Chattanooga a bad name.

Corrine Gould, who is currently assistant commissioner for public affairs at the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, has released a video of her experience with Chattanooga Impound last Oct. 1. The video was shot by friend Bryan Payne, who accompanied her to the firm's lot on Shepherd Road.

Meanwhile, Gregory Black of American Tow & Recovery said, "We have no involvement with said incident and we have no affiliations with Chattanooga Impound whatsoever."

The video can be viewed here.

She said they learned they would be charged $330 in what she described as a "cash - no receipt" operation.

The video details the couple's effort to get a receipt from the company detailing the $330 in charges and a run-in with Aaron Black, who wrecker officials said runs American Towing and is allied with Chattanooga Impound.

Ms. Gould, who grew up in Spring City, said she learned that Chattanooga Impound considers itself exempt from the Chattanooga wrecker ordinance because it is not on the rotation list for wrecker calls.

Sgt. Jason Wood with the Chattanooga Beer and Wrecker Board recently said the city does not have any authority over “predatory towing” if the tow company is not on the city’s rotation list. He said, “People are being taken advantage of and it makes the towing industry look bad. Something needs to be done.”

In the video, Ms. Gould told Chattanooga Impound personnel that she had read the city wrecker ordinance and it limits charges to $125. She said a storage fee was not to be charged if the vehicle owner contacted the firm within 24 hours.

She was told the company is not subject to those price limits and that the storage fee starts "as soon as the vehicle hits the lot."

Ms. Gould recently wrote the City Council after an earlier effort for help at the Beer Board level.

She said, "Unfortunately, I did not receive any guidance from the board and my understanding is that Mr. Black continues to harass citizens and engage in potentially illegal business practices. The practices of his company were again called into question at the Wrecker Board meeting on March 21 when nurse Kelly Krol shared the experience of her daughter in dealing with Mr. Black's company resulting in damage to her daughter's vehicle.

"At best, Mr. Black and his associates are operating within a loophole in city ordinances - staying on the city's approved wrecker call list with a 'legitimate' company operating under one name while violating rules and ripping off citizens with an apparent shadow company operating under a different name with the same principal people and same address(es).

"This is very concerning and potentially threatens the vibrancy and welcoming nature of a city that has worked so hard to come so far.

"I hope you will take my concern into consideration as you think through current ordinances governing Chattanooga. Aaron Black has become a controversial business owner in Chattanooga. I have documented my own unsettling experience with him, including video of a disturbing exchange in October of 2023."

Ms. Gould also said, "If nothing else, Mr. Black is driving through a tow-truck-sized loophole in city ordinances.

"And as a former television news producer (10 years at WSMV), I recognize this as a consumer concern because it's not clear what rights or protections a person has when their vehicle is towed."

She said the phone used for the video was in Bryan Payne’s front jacket pocket, sticking up and facing out.

Here is the transcript of the couple's experience at Chattanooga Impound on Shepherd Road last Oct. 1:

Timestamp

5:10 – Introductions / Corinne Gould, Bryan Payne, Nolan [Caylor]

5:21 – Nolan Caylor: It will be $300

Corinne: We need to have paperwork for it. Can you give us the paperwork?

Nolan Caylor: Let me call my boss real quick.

6:20 – Nolan Caylor: What’s your email? We will email it to you.

Corinne: Okay. I just need to receive it before we pay for it. [spells out email address]

Nolan Caylor: Okay. Yes ma’am. Just hang tight on it. I’m going to sit in the truck a minute and when they email it to you, just let me know and I’ll get you taken care of.

Corinne: Okay, great. I’ll keep an eye out for it. Thank you.

[No email is received. Approximately 15 minutes pass. Several other people came to pick up vehicles and hand over what appears to be large sums of cash. No receipts were seen to be exchanged.]

20:43 – Nolan Caylor: Okay, he told me… I told him what you said. That you didn’t want to pay or anything like that until you get the email. He said, uh, you’d have to come back tomorrow then.

Bryan: Actually, Chattanooga section 35 -171 requires you all release the vehicle within 2 hours of notification. We notified you all yesterday around 4:30 p.m. Eastern time.

Nolan Caylor: See, I guess that I just, I [unintelligible]. [he walks away]

21:45 Nolan Caylor [off camera, walking toward us with phone]: It’s my boss.

Corinne: Who’s the boss?

Nolan Caylor: His name’s uh [pause] Greg.

Corinne: Greg? What’s his last name?

[Male voice on speaker phone—phone contact read “Big Bro”]: Hello?

Nolan Caylor: Greg…. Uh…

Male voice: Johnson

Corinne: Greg Johnson. Hello, Mr. Johnson. This is Corinne Gould.

“Greg”: Yeah, what can we do for you guys?

Corinne: Yeah, my truck was towed from the Walmart and I’m here to get it. We notified you guys within a few hours of it being towed. We’ve already been put off and told we couldn’t pick it up. I just need paperwork for my files showing what I’m doing and what I’m picking up. [continues to talk as “Greg” interrupts and talks over] I just don’t feel comfortable handing over cash for this.

22:21 – “Greg” attempts to talk over Corinne: We can move this over to 10 a.m. in the morning.

Corinne: No.

“Greg”: Technically my office is closed today.
Bryan: Technically, Chattanooga ordinance 35-171…

“Greg”: We don’t fall under Chattanooga ordinance.

Bryan: Yes you do, actually.

“Greg”: Okay, well um, we ain’t gonna argue with nobody. What we can do is we’ll just put this off till 10 a.m. in the morning.

Corinne: No we won’t.

Bryan: What we can do is call the Chattanooga Police Department.

“Greg”: Well, that’d be fine, buddy. Wrap it up up there.

[call ends]

[23:13-25:34 – Corinne’s call to Chattanooga Police non-emergency number requesting police assistance at 1625 Shepherd Rd.]

[30:33/not on camera. Escalade arrives and parks. No one gets out. No one approaches vehicle to speak with occupants.]

32:26 – Nolan Caylor’s voice off camera: Hey guys? What’s the year, make and model of that

car? The Tundra?

Corinne: My vehicle? It’s a 2001.

33:17 – Nolan Caylor: Are you paying with cash?

Corinne: Yes.

[34:03 – Nolan Caylor, still on the phone, opens the gate. Escalade revs engine and speeds through, into the fenced portion of the lot, and parks beside shed. It appears from our position that no one gets out and no one approaches vehicle to speak with occupants. Nolan walks over to Tundra and appears to review license plate while talking on the phone.]

[37:55 – Escalade pulls back out of fenced lot (at reasonable speed) and parks. Still, no one gets out and no one approaches vehicle to speak with occupants.]

41:39—Nolan Caylor: You should be getting a receipt soon.

Corinne: Okay. So keep an eye on my email again?

Nolan Caylor: Yeah, keep checking it.

46:22 – Nolan Caylor: Check it now.

Corinne: Okay…. Not in Junk… Not in the inbox yet. I’ll keep refreshing here.

47:06 – Corinne: While we’re waiting, can you tell me how it was towed?

Nolan Caylor: Uh, I have no idea.

Corinne: Okay. How can I find that out? Like if it was on a flatbed….?

Nolan Caylor: You’ll have to come back to the office in the morning.

Corinne: Okay. Where is the office located?

Nolan Caylor: Uh, usually someone’s in there [motions to what appears to be small storage shed].

Corinne: So this is the office? At this address?

Nolan Caylor: Yes, ma’am.

Corinne: And so what are the office hours?

Nolan Caylor: Uh, Monday through Friday, 5 through 10. Uh, 5 through 6. 7 through 6.

[Escalade passenger window rolls down and male voice says something unintelligible.]

Corinne: Gotcha. 7 a.m. to…?

[Male in passenger seat says something that sounds like a question]

Corinne: I’m sorry, what? [Corinne starts to walk toward Escalade to hear.]

Male in passenger seat [loudly]: You don’t need to walk over here! That’s close enough! Did you get that receipt?

Corinne: No. But let me… I’m in my inbox.
Hi, I’m Corinne.

Male in passenger seat: I’m Johnson.

[Corinne confirms email address to occupants of Escalade]

[Email is received to Corinne’s email inbox at 4:56 p.m. Eastern Time. Invoice indicates incorrect color of vehicle and incorrect impound date and time.]

49:25 – Corinne: Okay, can I ask some questions so you can help me understand it?

Male voice from driver’s seat: Sure, let me step out.

[Male in passenger seat and male in driver seat both exit vehicle.]

Corinne: Sorry, I know it’s really bright out. Okay, I’m looking at it and it says the total amount due is $330.

Male with tattoos: Yes.

Corinne: I’ve been all over the city code and it seems that the maximum I can be charged is $125.

Male with ball cap: That’s if you’re a city impounding wrecker but we’re not a city wrecker.

Bryan: Actually the ordinance applies to everyone.

Male with ball cap: No, it doesn’t. Only if you’re a city wrecker, sir.

50:00 Male with tattoos: We do this for a living, guys. We pull 150 cars a week.

Corinne: That’s actually not true.

Male with ball cap: Well, you’re welcome contact an attorney or whatever you feel you need to do.

50:06 Male with tattoos raises voice: Just don’t pay the bill today because you’re holding us up.

Corinne: I also see that there’s a storage fee on here and we notified you guys within 12 hours of it being towed yesterday.

Male with tattoos talking over: You get charged a storage fee as soon as it hits the yard.

Corinne: Yeah, I know that’s not…

Bryan: It hit the yard at 4:30 yesterday morning. We notified you all less than 12 hours later.
Male with ball cap: That doesn’t matter.

50:24 Corinne: Yeah, that violates the ordinance.

Bryan: Actually, the ordinance says the first 24 hours…

Male with ball cap: If y’all want to pay the vehicle out and pick it up, by all means you can do that. And if you want to contact an attorney, you can have them contact ours. Whichever y’all choose to do.

Corinne: The other issue is that we notified y’all yesterday and you were supposed to give us access to it within 2 hours and that didn’t happen.

Male with ball cap: No ma’am.

Both males: If you’re a city wrecker.

Male with tattoos: We’re not a city wrecker.

Corinne: No.

50:42 Male with tattoos [raised voice/pointing in Corinne’s face]: Well, just pay us tomorrow!

We’re going home, okay. That sound good? Just get with the city and stuff tomorrow and they’ll let you know about it, okay? Because we do this for a living. You think you’re the first people that’s tried to come up and school us on the law? No.

Corinne: Well, um, I guess we’re paying then.

Bryan to Corinne: You have the receipt?

Corinne to Bryan: Do you feel comfortable with that?

Bryan to Corinne: May I see it?

Corinne: Yes. Sure. [hands Bryan phone with emailed invoice]

Male voice: Who’s the owner of the vehicle?

Corinne: I am.

Male with tattoos: Do you have proof of ownership?

Corinne: What type of proof of ownership would you like? Because the registration is in the vehicle.
Male with ball cap: Insurance and registration will be just fine.

Corinne: Okay, they’re both in the vehicle. I can get them out of the glove box.

Male with ball cap: Sure, if you’d like to walk back there with him (Nolan), he’ll… [unintelligible]

Corinne to Bryan: Are you good?

Male with tattoos: We have to receive payment before you guys can have vehicle.

Corinne: Okay, well I’m getting you the proof of ownership that you require.

Male with ball cap: Yeah, go get your proof of…

Corinne: Thank you. [walks into fenced area with Nolan]

51:37 Male with ball cap: Listen, I understand no one likes to have their car towed, but

understand we’re not the guys that make the rules.

Bryan: I know. The city of Chattanooga makes the rules.

51:43 Male with ball cap: No, the city of Chattanooga doesn’t make the rules on this.

Bryan: Actually they do. 35-171.

Male with ball cap: Right. If you’ll re-read it…

Bryan: I did. We have it printed out. It’s a non-consensual tow from private property.

Male with ball cap: Correct. When you are a city-regulated wrecker.

Bryan: No, the city one is when you all are on the call list…

Male with ball cap: Nope, nope.

Bryan: Which you all lost after the mass tow from Walmart.

Male with ball cap: Who?

Bryan: American Tow and Recovery

Both males: This is Chattanooga Impound.

Bryan: Mm hmm. You’re Aaron Black.

52:13 Male with tattoos: [pause] Ummmm… [pause]. No I’m not.

Bryan: Okay. Who are you?

Male with ball cap: My name’s Mike Phillips. What’s your name?

Bryan: Bryan Payne.

Mike Phillips: Bryan, nice to meet you.

Bryan: Nice to meet you, too.

Male with tattoos: Who’d you say? Aaron Black?

Bryan: That’s correct.
52:24 Mike Phillips: That’s the owner of … That’s not the owner of Chattanooga Impound. That’s the owner of American Tow Company.

Bryan: Right.

Male with tattoos: Yeah.

Mike Phillips: We are well aware.

Male with tattoos: Yeah, so…

Mike Phillips: That’s where we got the accounts from. When they lost them, that’s where we picked them up from.
Bryan: And you are? I’m sorry…

52:36 Male with tattoos: Eat a dick. That’s who.

Bryan: Okay.

Male with tattoos/Aaron Black: Yeah, I felt comfortable telling you until you tried to roll up schooling me on laws that we… We do this for a living towing 150 cars a week. Yeah. You think you guys are the first ones who rolled in, tried to school us on the law?

Bryan: I’m sure you deal with all kinds of people.

Aaron Black: I do. Yeah. Yeah. I sure do.

[There is a separate audio recording of Nolan indicating to Corinne that she can drive the truck out of the fenced in area, which she begins to do, slowly to avoid hitting other awkwardly parked vehicles. Click here to hear that.]

Mike Phillips to Nolan Caylor: Did she pay you?

Mike Phillips to Bryan: Are you paying or is she paying?

Bryan: She’s paying.

Mike Phillips: If you would just ask her… he’s trying to get paid.

Bryan: Sure. We’re not running out.

[Aaron Black walks over and steps directly into the front grill of the slowly rolling truck.]

Mike Phillips: That was kind of uncalled for. She bumped him with the truck.

Bryan: I saw he walked in front of a moving vehicle.

Mike Phillips: Right. Well, the vehicle hasn’t been paid out.

Bryan: She’s paying.

[There is a separate audio recording of the verbal exchange between Corinne and Aaron Black.]

53:56 Mike Phillips: I can understand you being upset, but there’s also a way to handle it. I’m

going to talk with him when we get done about the way he just handled that. But… I can be just as easy to deal with or just as hard.

Bryan: I’m not trying to be difficult at all. I appreciate it. I understand that people are gonna get angry at this business.
Mike Phillips: That’s part of it.

Bryan: I understand.

[Corinne exits truck and walks to Bryan.]

Corinne: Are you good?

Bryan: Yeah.

Corinne: Okay. [hands Aaron Black two installments of cash totaling $330]

Aaron Black to Nolan Caylor: Give that to your boss.

Nolan Caylor: All right. Y’all have a good day, okay?

Bryan: You too.

55:35 Aaron Black: Nolan, give them their money back. We don’t need [unintelligible].

56:01 Mike Phillips: For his disrespectful comment we are gonna [unintelligible].

[Mike Phillips hands Bryan back the cash.]

Bryan: Okay. Thank you.

Mike Phillips: All right. Have a good day.

Bryan: You, too.

[Bryan walks to Corinne in truck.]

Bryan: They gave us the money back. I had a conversation with them, too.

Corinne: Okay. Let’s get the hell out of here and debrief.

Bryan: All right. I’ll follow you. You probably need to let the police know not to keep the car coming.

Corinne: Let’s just get somewhere safe right now.

[Video recording ends]

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Closeup of towing sign
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