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Archive for Sunday, July 17, 2011

Towing can chain drivers to huge fees

Pricing for services varied, unregulated

July 17, 2011

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After Ray Bloxsom's limo was in an accident, he couldn't believe the price tag for the towing service: $675 total, including $275 for towing, $150 for labor, $125 for mileage and $125 for cleanup. "I was robbed," said Bloxsom, an 18-year city resident. "This is just not acceptable in Lawrence." Bloxsom paid the fine, and the limo is now parked at a repair shop.

After Ray Bloxsom's limo was in an accident, he couldn't believe the price tag for the towing service: $675 total, including $275 for towing, $150 for labor, $125 for mileage and $125 for cleanup. "I was robbed," said Bloxsom, an 18-year city resident. "This is just not acceptable in Lawrence." Bloxsom paid the fine, and the limo is now parked at a repair shop.

You get in an accident in Douglas County and need a tow truck but don’t have a preference on which towing company to call. No problem. Douglas County emergency dispatchers can call one for you from a rotating list of services.

The tow truck arrives and hooks up your vehicle, cleans the scene and tows it to its company lot.

Call the next day — and surprise — for some services it’ll cost you $800 or more to claim your vehicle. The tow charge might have been only $250, but at least one company tacks on mileage, cleanup and labor charges.

Don’t have $800? No problem, the service can keep your vehicle and auction it off later.

Outraged?

Tough luck, it’s legal.

It’s a scenario that happened to Ray Bloxsom.

Bloxsom got into an accident on Kentucky Street recently, and Midwest Tow and Recovery was called by county dispatch to assist.

Midwest towed his car — a limousine Bloxsom uses for a taxi business — to the company’s lot on Ponderosa Drive, about three miles away.

When Bloxsom called about getting his limo back, he said he couldn’t believe the price tag for the service: $675 total, including $275 for towing, $150 for labor, $125 for mileage, and $125 for cleanup, according to a receipt Bloxsom showed the Journal-World.

“I was robbed,” said Bloxsom, an 18-year Lawrence resident. “This is just not acceptable in Lawrence.”

‘No regulation’

While Bloxsom thinks he was overcharged, the truth is, legally, a towing company could have charged Bloxsom anything it wanted, said Tom Whitaker, executive director of the Kansas Motor Carriers Association.

“There is no regulation,” he said, citing a 1995 federal law that prohibits states from putting limits on towing charges.

Even the county has its hands tied, said Craig Weinaug, Douglas County administrator.

County dispatchers call towing companies on a rotating basis when someone says they have no preference on which company is called. Weinaug said the county, by federal regulation, is required to let a company that meets some basic requirements be on the call list, which includes 11 services.

The county has no power to take a company off the list even if they get complaints, and they have no power to set pricing limits, he said.

“We have no discretion for who is on that list,” said Weinaug, adding that it’s a common problem across the country. “I’ve dealt with this everywhere I’ve worked.”

What should you pay?

At Bryant Collision, 1214 E. 23rd St., owner Mike Bryant shows a collection of highly priced towing bills he’s kept from customers. The bills show that Bloxsom’s experience isn’t unusual or confined to the Midwest. Several bills from a variety of towing companies list tow charges ranging up to $900.

“They just can’t believe it,” said Bryant of the customer reaction he often hears.

But it gets worse, explains Bryant.

If a customer can’t pay the bill, the towing company can keep the vehicle and sell it later at a public auction, though they must abide stipulations in the Kansas Tow and Recovery Lien Law.

The law requires towing companies to verify who the owner of the vehicle is, as well as notify the owner within 30 days that the vehicle will be auctioned if the owner doesn’t pay the towing charges. The charges also grow, as companies charge a daily storage rate — usually $30 to $50 each day.

In some cases, the tow bill and the repair charges amount to more than the value of the car, and it gets classified as “totaled,” Bryant said.

In other cases, people whose insurance covers towing might get overcharged, but the bill is passed on to the insurance company.

And if it gets to the insurance company, it’s difficult to determine when overcharging occurs, said Tamara O’Connor, a spokeswoman for State Farm Insurance.

“There’s no definition of what is excessive and what is not,” she said. “It’s a pretty unregulated industry.”

Calls to several local towing companies quoted prices for an accident tow between $145 and $250. Jerry Taylor, owner of Hillcrest Towing, said his company would probably not have added the extra fees charged to Bloxsom, and the service would have cost its standard towing charge of $145.

Owners of several companies said they normally don’t charge extra for mileage for in-town tows, and when they do charge for mileage, a typical rate is several dollars per mile. Bloxsom’s $125 charge amounts to nearly $42 a mile.

The Journal-World contacted Midwest about Bloxsom’s vehicle and asked to speak to the owner. A man, who would not identify himself, answered and said Bloxsom’s case had been settled. The unidentified man would not discuss further details of the case.

Solutions

The best way to avoid getting overcharged, said Weinaug, is to not leave it up to chance when you need a tow. He suggests finding a towing company with a good reputation before you need one and request that dispatch call that company if you’re in an accident.

You can also try to negotiate a rate with the company before the car is towed.

But if you’ve already been towed, you’re out of luck; that’s something Bloxsom learned the hard way.

After trying to negotiate a lower rate for several days, Bloxsom said the owner threatened to auction his vehicle if he didn’t pay. Bloxsom relented and paid a slightly reduced charge — $600 — to get his car back.

“I had to,” Bloxsom said.

When the towing company released his vehicle, Bloxsom called a different towing company to take it across town to a mechanic. The charge? $30.

Comments

HollisBrown 3 years, 3 months ago

"The county has no power to take a company off the list even if they get complaints"

That's interesting. A good friend of mine, lifelong employee of the LPD, told me in great detail how the city and county go about selecting tow companies. Believe me, the good ol' boy network is alive and well in this town. These guys are dirtbags. I was involved in an accident 3 yrs. ago in which the other driver was at fault and had no insurance. The car was totaled. The tow guy said he would generously take it off my hands for $100. I laughed, so he agreed to take it for free. I went to sign the title over. He wouldn't let me in the main office, probably due to the strong odor of weed that was wafting through the door. After he got rid of the HS kids and sprayed air freshener, I went in and noticed they had left their pipe on the window sill. A class act.

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BlackVelvet 3 years, 3 months ago

"....lifelong employee of the LPD...." now that would be an interesting trick.

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Lawrence Morgan 3 years, 3 months ago

This should be changed immediately on the federal level, and then locally. When a person has an accident, he or she is often extremely upset. If the family is included, it is even more upsetting. This is not the time to take away what may be a person's livelihood. I urge drivers to band together, and then contact Congress to change this law. I didn't even know about this law, or the person(s) who put brought it to Congress in the first place.

What is the name of this law, and who put it into effect on a federal level in the first place? The writer should do another article to explain these facts in detail.

For those who have it, AAA is an alternative. But how about all those people who don't have AAA, or who can't afford it.

This article sets forth a situation which has to be changed!!!

I hope the writer will do a second article which goes into the background of this law.

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attorney1776 3 years, 3 months ago

I will call your attention to the fact that the state of California has had an extremely strict vehicle towing law on the books for 5 years. I'll be happy to forward the complete law to anyone that is interested.

After 25 years of tow company abuses, especially in the city/county of Los Angeles, this new state law zapped all the abuses out of the thiefing tow truck companies. In fact it criminalizes many of the common tow truck driver abuses. A tow truck operator not following the law can be sentenced to actual jail time.

I take serious issue with the comments or opinions of the gentleman from the Kansas Motor Carrier Association. The is NO (I repeat NO) federal law superceding state tow laws. Towing is a "state" issue, not a federal issue. In fact, it can even fall to counties and cities to write their own ordinances/city codes over the licensing and operations of towing companies within their jurisdiction. It can even be codified into the tow company business license at the city level.

If there was federal law regulating tow companies, then California wouldn't have their own laws at the state, county and city levels. And they clearly do.

Perhaps some interested parties would like to take the California statute to the Kansas legislature, county or city officials and push for changes in the local regulations here.

The way tow truck operators conduct business in Lawrence amounts to nothing more than codified theft of personal property, and if government officials are turning a blind eye or conspiring to allow such abuses then it's a much larger problem.

I'll be more than happy to provide the California statute upon request.

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jcotter 3 years ago

I would like to see a copy of that statute

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countrygal07 3 years, 3 months ago

Ive seen this happen several times. Remember a few years back when a tow company in Lawrence towed a ladies car and there was gifts in the car that was donated for her children at christmas time? They wouldnt let her have the gifts till the tow bill was paid. She didnt have enough money however some generous people helped her pay the tow bill so she could get the gifts out of the car. Heartless people. The law does need to be regulated.

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LogicMan 3 years, 3 months ago

Know your preferred tow company in advance, and have the car towed directly to your favorite mechanic, body shop, or your home or business, and never to their lot even if totaled. Buyer beware.

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Charles McPheeters 3 years, 3 months ago

Good advice. and I recommend you have the hill crest wrecker company be called. A company that has integrity and will not scam you.

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geekin_topekan 3 years, 3 months ago

This is the Tea Party's business model! What're you complaining about?

The commission I received at local tow company--25%. That's some incentive to mark up whatever the beady little mind can dream up.

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Scott Morgan 3 years, 3 months ago

There is something stinky about the whole towing business in general. Almost as though they rule in Martial Law situations. Although most urban areas have set rates now due to the complaints.

laughing now, but this is as close to dating prison Bubba as I ever got.

Towed once in Kansas City Mo. I was parked in a no overnight parking area, but could not have seen the sign from the way I entered. If I'd seen a sign there would not have been the situation what followed.

First thought the car was stolen. Who knew. Wallet in car no money. Second, had to find a ride, missed work, was eventually charged a couple hundred back in the day talk about changing the budget. Eventually drove all over KC trying to get the vehicle back. Third, not a soul was nice, but actually unhelpful. The old show me your insurance and registration, but to show them had to pay. I was going to dispute the ticket.

After all this the public servant reminded me he needed to see my title and they were closing soon. Only time in my life had to be restrained.

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grammaddy 3 years, 3 months ago

Is there anything that can be done about a tow company operating out of a residential neighborhood? The noise at night is horrible.

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kernal 3 years, 3 months ago

If the towing business is located in a residential neighborhood that is not zoned for business use, then those good ol' boys are going to have to operate somewhere else. You can call the city's zoning department tomorrow and check the zoning designation for the address where the business is operating.

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grammaddy 3 years, 3 months ago

I don't know why it would be zoned anything but residential in this neighborhood. I've heard other neighbors complain that this guy has "connections" downtown and they've all tried to get him shut down or make him move, to no avail. Other tow truck drivers have told me the same thing.

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LadyJ 3 years, 3 months ago

Just a few short years ago, the car broke down the other side of Desota. Had it towed back to Lawrence, cost $75.

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kscowboy79 3 years, 3 months ago

This is the same company that towed my mom's car off K-10 west of Eudora, to thier lot east of Lawrence on K-10. I was there with in a hour to get it and cost us $475.. Just for an flat tire, then the SOB asked if had an title..

MIDWEST MUSTANG IS THE SAME AS MIDWEST TOWING.. The guy name was Terry. Lowlife POS.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 3 months ago

"midwest mustang is the same as midwest towing.. The guy name was Terry. Lowlife POS."

That pretty well sums it (and him) up.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 3 months ago

He uses his tow business as a license for quasi-legal theft.

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Ku74 3 years, 3 months ago

Beware of Ray as well. He is far from a stand up person. Didn't Transmaster towing get in trouble for this years ago?

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pal00kaville 3 years, 3 months ago

Transmaster charged me $125 to pull my vehicle on a tow line about 100ft (5 feet would have gotten me out of the rut my tire had made). It was a rain soaked field, but it was level and cleared for cars to park. Several had gotten stuck the night before by winding thier tires. Sometime later I paid a different company only $80 to have my car actually towed from the I-70 rest stop all-the-way to my house in the middle of town (which I thought was very fair). DO compare before you commit.

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pal00kaville 3 years, 3 months ago

I agree. I expected to pay half as much, but once he started up the wench he just kept pulling, then explained it was charged by the foot. Another stuck motorist showed up after the transaction, and he actually tried to interpose himself when I was telling her about the charge. She said "Oh well" because she was in a hurry. I'm glad they had to answer in some way, even if nothing was done. This happened in 2004 BTW.

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angelalovesart 3 years, 3 months ago

So what is everyone's suggestion should I be in an unfortunate situation?

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Ku74 3 years, 3 months ago

Ask the officer for a list of the tow companies then chose one. As long as it's a perference call it won't cost as much.

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LadyJ 3 years, 3 months ago

I believe Bulldog Towing was the one that charged me $75 from Desoto to Lawrence.

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Katara 3 years, 3 months ago

Agreed. Bulldog Towing is very fair in their charges.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 3 months ago

Why can't the city/county have each tow service state their charges, along with contact information, and have police carry a list of this info with them. It could then be handed to the driver, who could make a call and confirm those charges, or just have the officer call them in.

If the info is suppled by the companies, I don't see how this would violate the existing laws. And if a company chooses not to supply such info, they probably wouldn't get many calls.

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rockchalker52 3 years, 3 months ago

I like it - and if every bozo on the bus contributed, it wouldn't cost much at all.
Rilly, tho, seems like a good idea.

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Liberty275 3 years, 3 months ago

Because every tow job is different. Do you think the tow should cost the same if the car is just broke down and it's a hook and go as it should be to dolly what's left after a head-on collision and reach over the bloody seat and probably parts of the dead driver to secure anything loose in the car that might fall out?

You really never think things through bozo.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 3 months ago

I'm not surprised that you'd be here in defense of price-gouging and even outright theft.

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davidsonbt 3 years, 3 months ago

There shouldn't be a list. An individual stressed out from a wreck puts blind trust in the local governments apparent recommended tow company.

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Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 3 months ago

And I suppose that when a fatality accident occurs and it's a scam towing service's turn to come up on the list, there's great rejoicing if everyone in the car was killed!

Just think of the joyous shouts! They're all dead!

Everyone was killed so now we can charge the insurance company, estate or whatever anything we want!

Hip hip hooray! They're all dead!

Hip hip hooray! Everyone was killed!

Oh, happy day! (for us!)

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 3 months ago

Hey Shaun, couldn't you compile that list, and publish it in the JW?

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shaunepec 3 years, 3 months ago

I'd be happy to post the list. Here's what the county gave me when I asked for the names of everyone on the list:

University tow and Quality Tow (AAA) both are owned by the same owner. MBM Enterprises TLC Towing and Recovery Inc Bulldog Tow Company (AAA) Lighthouse Recovery 19th Street Tow & Recovery Transmasters Towing Midwest Tow and Recovery Hillcrest Wrecker (AAA) Quick Assist Corp DGCO (only jumpstarts, tire changes, gas, and lockouts) Swisher Automotive (AAA) Only for SW DGCO south of CR460

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shaunepec 3 years, 3 months ago

We were notified of an error in the above list. According to Douglas County 911, University Tow and Quality Tow are in fact owned by two different people, and therefore can be on the list twice.

Shaun Hittle Reporter LJW

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rousseau108 3 years, 3 months ago

Wrong, that's not how it works. The $95 has to be paid to the PD records people in order to get the tow slip. The tow company that did the city contract tow will not release the car to the owner unless they have that slip. The tow company still charges the person for the towing service, storage fees, etc.

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woodscolt 3 years, 3 months ago

Imagine that, the cops have to be paid. hmmm

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Ku74 3 years, 3 months ago

Quality, University (Same owner as Quality) Midwest, Hillcrest, Bulldog, 19th street, TLC, MBM (was A&M) Transmasters, Lighthouse. Ten total as per the yellow pages.

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LadyJ 3 years, 3 months ago

Not paying for AAA next year, found out my insurance company already had roadside assistance in my policy. It's only a few dollars more every 6 months. Could have saved $125.

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kernal 3 years, 3 months ago

I think most auto insurance policies will cover roadside assistance. Everyone should check their auto insurance policy, or call their insurance agent and have that added if they don't already have it. I'm pretty sure it's still cheaper than AAA.

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Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 3 months ago

There are a couple things that you need to think about and they are: Will you have to first pay upfront yourself, and will you have the means to do so?

I know that at least one well known company that sells car insurance does pay for roadside assistance towing, but you need to first pay the towing costs upfront yourself, and to get reimbursed you need to present them with the paperwork (that is, the receipt for the towing bill) and then they will later mail you a check.

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deec 3 years, 3 months ago

I think basic AAA is like $59.

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LadyJ 3 years, 3 months ago

For one person, more if you add spouse and per child. My insurance covers the car not the driver.

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sherbert 3 years, 3 months ago

Isn't towing a covered charge on most insurance policies? I was wondering if they had agreed upon rates like medical insurance/doctors do?

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lawrence_citizen 3 years, 3 months ago

I have had several cars towed for various reasons. Always used Bulldog Tow. They are reasonably priced and good service.

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LadyJ 3 years, 3 months ago

Bulldog was the one I used for the Desoto tow.

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Kris_H 3 years, 3 months ago

Yes, definitely use your own choice of tow company, and thanks to this article and comments I know who I'll use in Lawrence if I ever need one. In fact I may have used them by accident once already when my car broke down while in Lawrence and I had it towed to a garage to be worked on.

In Topeka I use Brown's because they also have a garage, and Carl there has worked on my old beater lots of times and kept her running for me. :)

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Kat Christian 3 years, 3 months ago

I've been trying to get this word out for sometime now. The towing companies around here are crooks. Had to call the Governor's office (the other Governor) to get anything accomplished with my son's vehicle. The towing Co. wouldn't even let me get his personal belongings out of it without a charge. I dealt with the towing company in N. Lawrence. But I tell people keep a minimum of personnel items in your car just in case you have to be towed because you will not get them unless you pay the full fee those crooks charge to get your car away from them. They hold everything hostage. There needs to be a regulation of this industry and needs to be done NOW. Call your representatives (it may help). Start a petition. I will sign it. Aren't you all tired of these crooks taking advantage of us?

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Kat Christian 3 years, 3 months ago

Towing to a shop is a different price than having your car towed to the towing lot due to an accident. The towing lot is when they charge you big $$ to hold your car hostage. Big different then just having it towed to your home or for car repair.

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Sigmund 3 years, 3 months ago

angelalovesart (anonymous) says… "So what is everyone's suggestion should I be in an unfortunate situation?"

Education and information, but last time I was in a accident I called my local insurance guy and he recommended Hillcrest. When you do business in a fair and reasonable manner you tend to get lots of recommendations and word of mouth. When you constantly screw people you tend to go out of business and/or change your business name every couple of years.

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FrankR 3 years, 3 months ago

DON'T USE TRANSMASTERS!! They did the same thing to me. Rent a few horses, build a ramp and spend a few days dragging it back to your house. It will still be cheaper than transmasters

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justajoe 3 years, 3 months ago

Frank's right. Transmasters towed my car from KU to their lot after I parked in a private lot of an apartment complex near KU. I was late for a meeting, the KU lot was full and I forgot to move my car immediately afterwards. It was my mistake and I deserved to have my car towed. But when I went to retrive the car three hours later, I was told it would cost $300, and that they only took cash. I got a ride from a friend to an ATM, returned, and handed over the wad of cash to the intimidating, foul-smelling, Larry the Cable Guy-resembling creep. When I asked for an itemized receipt for the charges, I was told I could only have a receipt showing I paid the $300. They simply felt no obligation to tell me what specific charges were incurred, and how they came to total $300. God help us all!

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SnakeFist 3 years, 3 months ago

This illustrates the problems with an unregulated market. Apparently the "invisible hand" failed once again, and consumers were treated to the "invisible penis" of capitalism and unmitigated greed.

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Jeremiah Jefferson 3 years, 3 months ago

do you mean as unregulated as the price of gas

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LogicMan 3 years, 3 months ago

Any of these tow guys or companies still owe Kansas big tax bucks? If so, why?

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LogicMan 3 years, 3 months ago

That's very Interesting. For how long?

What did they finally get the previously untouchable Al Capone with?

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Fred Whitehead Jr. 3 years, 3 months ago

Face it folks, there are criminal elements in the business sector who embrace owning a needed business as a license to steal. Customers for this sort of business are usually in a very difficult situation, are simply ignorant of the services they require or otherwise unaware of the thugs they are dealing with. Some customers are simply not informed on the nature of the work they are needing and the business will prey on their ignorance of the type of work they do. There are several companies in Lawrence that follow that as a regular business model. The only solution is to be informed and aware of the services or products you are purchasing. The woods are full of scoundrels posing as "experts" to fleece you. Caveat Emptor.

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Liberty275 3 years, 3 months ago

$800. LOL.

Due to recent circumstance, I can tell you the price of having two kidney stones diagnosed and removed is $50,000.

$800. LOL.

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yoornotmee 3 years, 3 months ago

The police shouldn't offer to call a towing service for us. Are they getting a cut from the tow or something?

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crazyredneckmomma4 3 years, 3 months ago

I know a tow truck company and I seem to remember something about them trying to get the "city contract" i dont know if that still is the way it is but Im sure there's exchange of money some where the city doesnt do anything for free.

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Blessed4x 3 years, 3 months ago

AAA. Plain and simple. If you don't think you can afford the pittance they charge for an annual membership, you have never had to have your car towed, ran out of gas, or locked your keys in the car. A couple bucks a month will set you up on a AAA plan and then all your worries are solved. As far as the towing companies go, they are all crooks, but I don't believe in regulating them. Instead, just have certain criteria (pricing, policies) that a towing company has to abide by in order to be on the police departments call list. If they can't conform to the more limiting policies, they don't get work from the police. It's their call. No regulations or laws necessary.

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crazyredneckmomma4 3 years, 3 months ago

I totally agree with you and Liberty275, tow your own car and if you cant then the city/county should make it way more difficult to be on their list!!! and for God's sake the city/county should be allowed to remove or add a tow truck company.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 3 months ago

"As far as the towing companies go, they are all crooks, but I don't believe in regulating them. Instead, just have certain criteria (pricing, policies) "

Umm, required criteria in pricing and policies would be "regulation."

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Liberty275 3 years, 3 months ago

On to the serious part.

Look people, don't count on the government to decide on who tows your car. That's related to rule #1 which is "do not trust the government". This is an example parallel to the tragedy in New Orleans where people thought the government had some intention of protecting them. First off, they don't want to and second, they can't.

I'll only add one thing, keep the number for bulldog tow in your beater corrola. Your going to need it.

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anothermother 3 years, 3 months ago

Also, check out your cell phone plan. With AT&T, I have roadside assistance for $3/month. I have used it once for a tow with great success. It more than paid for itself with just one use. Hope I don't have to use it again any time soon, but nice to know it is there.

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kernal 3 years, 3 months ago

Towing company prices can't be regulated by the city or the state. There was a court case filed by former Attorney General Kline several years ago and it was determined because the tow companies are federally regulated, the states can't preempt federal law by regulating those companies prices.

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Liberty275 3 years, 3 months ago

Also, if you aren't utterly incompetent, keep a 20 foot tow strap in your car. Towing your own car costs the price spent on gas. Besides that, it's kind of fun.

This is a good time to acknowledge and thank those of our wives capable of driving a towed car. Knowing how much brake to apply by watching our arm wave is a skill I don't think many women ever understand, much less master. My wife hasn't mastered it, but she is pretty good at it.

I know I'm a misogynist, don't nag me over it.

Those of you limited to book learning and lacking common sense (most college professors and lawyers for example) are encouraged to NOT tow your own cars. You'll just break something or hurt someone. Wait and let the semi-literate ape of a tow truck driver do what you can't. LOL.

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crazyredneckmomma4 3 years, 3 months ago

I have grown up around Lawrence and around tow truck companies all my life. I can tell you that I know first hand that when vehicles are towed into a tow company's lot, the employees, their families and friends, do and will go through anything and everything that is in the vehicle if that vehicle is in the lot for any length of time. And the prices the tow truck companies charge are, to say the least, ridiculous. Its called "trying to make a quick buck". AAA is the only way I have found that the owner/driver wont get screwed in the wallet. But I want everyone to know that there are individuals out there that will tow your vehicle for a lot less and they actually car about the vehicle and THE OWNER. These individuals are only out to "really help" and not to get rich. My husband and I are not insured or anything like that but we both own 4X4s and would help tow anyone anywhere. Just last winter I was driving down the highway and noticed a young lady had went off the road due to the icy roads and was STUCK about 15ft to 20ft off the road. I called my husband and he immediately headed that way and used his 4X4 to get her back on the road. The lady was scared and shaken up and told my husband to follow her to her house and she would pay him. My husband and I have 6 kids and struggle financially everyday but my husband wouldnt take money from her. My husband followed her to town and then turned off and came home. We also have a friend that has his own personal tow truck and will tow someone really cheap. He towed a friend of mine from the I-70 toll booth right outside KC back to my friends house in Lawrence and all he charged was gas money. So maybe we, as drivers, should start using friends and family or these individuals that are willing to help just to help to tow our vehicles and not the big A** companies that only care about making the money. If anyone wants the number for my friend with the tow truck let me know. Also like I said we have 4X4s and will help anytime. I hope these tow truck companies get regulated soon and I wish someone would do an undercover investigation on a few of these companies because I know first had that not only will your wallet be robbed but also you can kiss anything of value in your car good bye if its taken to a tow lot.

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crazyredneckmomma4 3 years, 3 months ago

Been thinking about it but not sure where to start but after this article I think we will be doing some checking on this and see what happens

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jayhawkster 3 years, 3 months ago

You, thuja, just hit the nail on the head.

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BlackVelvet 3 years, 3 months ago

Midwest charged me $200 to tow me less than a mile, He arrived and was hooked up to my vehicle before I could say anything to him. Once they've hooked up to you, you're screwed.

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woodscolt 3 years, 3 months ago

Terry is a good christian man so its ok for him to bilk you for towing your car. God is on his side. just ask him.

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woodscolt 3 years, 3 months ago

Its government sanctioned gran theft. Taking advantage of citizens that have come into some misfortune in many cases. If it is a legal matter, the tow heads will really jack the charge. Don't need no stinking judge or court, punishment imposed by the village idiots who flunked out of 7th grade but make a 6 figure income. Seriously, these thugs have IQ's in the single digits. I have had some encounters with these thieves, and make no mistake of it, they are thieves. the cops just sanction them. Shame on the cops as well. At least it shows the cops are willing to play along for a price.

Pay o lah.

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rousseau108 3 years, 3 months ago

Riiiiight . . . it's the cops' fault. Hmm, the COUNTY DISPATCH (which is a separate agency from LPD and DGSO) maintain a rotating list of tow companies. When someone does not have a preference of a tow company, the dispatcher has to contact the company next on the list. It's not their choice. If you want to complain, just learn to pick which company you want or, heaven forbid, actually call them yourself. It's nice that now people are mad at dispatch, the county and the city for, gasp following the law.

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woodscolt 3 years, 3 months ago

It is a scam and the cops are part of it. Thats why there are no regulations regarding the tow charges. How do you think you get on this list? What about the people who aren't on the list? People don't get in accidents everyday so they don't know the scam they are about to get sucked into.

"gasp" follow the law and be a part of the government sanctioned scam

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Blessed4x 3 years, 3 months ago

Do you have any proof of this or are you just pulling this out of your backside? I'd guess the latter. My older brother is a dispatcher for a nearby police department and they do have a towing company list that any towing company can get on and they just go down the list when there is a need for a tow. You are full of crap blaming the police without a shred of evidence to back up your ridiculous comments. Go play in the yahoo chat rooms or something.

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woodscolt 3 years, 3 months ago

"My older brother is a dispatcher for a nearby police department and they do have a towing company list that...." says the blessedquad.

Well excuse me, that makes it all better that your big brother is a dispatcher. What was I thinking.

People get towed all the time and they get gouged all the time by the towing thugs. If the police weren't involved then the first time someone got gouged they would kick them off the list. The police are involved in every one of these incidences. Do you have any evidence to prove they aren't or are you just pulling that out of your back side. Oh, thats right since your big brother is involved that makes everything on the up and up. Geeze

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Blessed4x 3 years, 3 months ago

You are truly ridiculous. What business is it of the police department to pick and choose which company gets their business. That's why they allow any legit company on the list and they farm out work on a rotation basis. If this wasn't the case don't you think the companies NOT getting police business would be complaining? No? It's just easier to blame the big, bad police department isn't it? Put your tin foil hat back and go to bed.

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woodscolt 3 years, 3 months ago

well rich ol buddy, if you ever snap out of your coma, you might have a chance . It doesn't matter who's list it is or who compiles the list or who calls the list. The dispatchers,the police and the tow truck thieves are involved in and continue to perpetuate citizens being ripped off by these thieves. The unsuspecting citizen associates the police with fighting crime and serving the public and when the police sucker punch people into this scam instead of saying, "We are not going to participate in this any longer and we are going to do something to bring an end to the scam", the people will continue to be robbed and the police will continue to bear culpability in this scam.

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Loomer 3 years, 3 months ago

people should make there own choice as to what company to call when needed. but the city, county should also be aware what companies are price gouging and those companies should not be called. strange to me how you are breaking the law for scalping a ticket for a athletic event but it is perfectly legal to price gouge people at a time of distress. somehow with the disaster in joplin they managed to take care of this same situation, why not here? heres a vote for hilldrest.

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pizzapete 3 years, 3 months ago

Wow, and I thought lawyers, politicians, and real estate developers were the real crooks.

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KULHSLIONSfan 3 years, 3 months ago

We have had cars towed on several occasions. Most went went, one was really frustrating. We had one car break down south of Topeka on the turnpike late in the evening. The tow company from Topeka was quick to respond to a phone call at 9:30 p.m. He towed the car back to Lawrence to an autoshop. The cost for a late night, weekend tow, on the turnpike for 35 miles was $175.00. I felt it was worth it considering all factors and what a couple of local tows cost us. One was a tow from a parking lot that was very poorly posted. The charges for a tow company in north lawrence was $250.00. They had the car for about 3 hours. Another tow was for an auto accident. We sold the car to the tow company for $100.00 rather than the well over $250.00 for a car requiring repair. The tow was for 3 miles. Something needs to be done with regulating and having more information available when selecting a tow service. I too, have always heard good things about Hillcrest. I would like a means for reviewing what the fee structure is for each of the companies.

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attorney1776 3 years, 3 months ago

I will call your attention to the fact that the state of California has had an extremely strict vehicle towing law on the books for 5 years. I'll be happy to forward the complete law to anyone that is interested.

After 25 years of tow company abuses, especially in the city/county of Los Angeles, this new state law zapped all the abuses out of the thiefing tow truck companies. In fact it criminalizes many of the common tow truck driver abuses. A tow truck operator not following the law can be sentenced to actual jail time.

I take serious issue with the comments or opinions of the gentleman from the Kansas Motor Carrier Association. There is NO, (I repeat NO), federal law superceding state tow laws. Towing is a "state" issue, not a federal issue. In fact, it can even fall to counties and cities to write their own ordinances/city codes over the licensing and operations of towing companies within their jurisdiction. It can even be codified into the tow company business license at the city level.

If there was federal law regulating tow companies, then California wouldn't have their own laws at the state, county and city levels. And they clearly do.

Perhaps some interested parties would like to take the California statute to the Kansas legislature, county or city officials and push for changes in the local regulations here.

The way tow truck operators conduct business in Lawrence amounts to nothing more than codified theft of personal property, and if government officials are turning a blind eye, ignoring or conspiring to allow such abuses then it's a much larger problem.

I'll be more than happy to provide the California statute upon request.

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LadyJ 3 years, 3 months ago

And you really think Brownback would let them put a stop to it?

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tena buse 3 years, 3 months ago

if MBM enterprises is the former A&M towing, the city should know that they operate without insurance. i know this for a fact as one of their trucks struck my vehicle, totalled it and injured me. Oh,yes the driver also left the scene of the accident. I was left holding the bag. they gave false information to the police, and suprise, nothing was done. they then filed bankruptcy so none of my losses could be recovered. they just opened up under another name. if your insurance doesn't cover the towing then AAA is well worth the money. just another case that the citizen needs to be informed.

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woodscolt 3 years, 3 months ago

What a great bunch of upstanding pillars of the community. The sad thing, workaday, is that these are the type of people the police are perfect willing to partner up with and do business . Your story doesn't surprise me. Why should it surprise the police, they know these thugs are robbing the public and they just continue to perpetuate it. Believe me, if they wanted to stop it they would get it done. There are a lot of implications to the police's behavior in this and you would think they would want to eliminate them by not participating in this public rip off.

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dncinnanc 3 years, 3 months ago

Just a note on insurance policies & roadside assistance... some carriers will let you add this coverage to your policy, but it does not automatically come built in. The majority will cover towing charges, but only in the event of a covered loss, i.e. an accident. If your car breaks down on the side of the road due to a flat tire or mechanical issues, towing won't be covered by your auto policy... that's what AAA is for. I have roadside assistance through my cell plan, it's $3 a month and covers any vehicle I'm in, as long as I have my phone on me. Pretty good deal!

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purplesage 3 years, 3 months ago

I, too, have had more than one bad experience with a towing company. But before we get all outraged with the tow company, consider how municipalities treat vehicles taken to their impound lots. In a nearby city, a car was taken to the municipal lot. It was on a Friday, so getting it out took until Monday, during which time "storeage" fees accrued. Add to that the tow bill (which was fair enough) the fact that the vehicle was damaged, and that there were title and tag problems. They would not release it, even if it were to be towed on a trailer. By the time it was all straightened out, the fees and the damages exceeded the value of the car - and the city, quite legally, took possession of the car and sold it at auction. And no, it wasn't my car; it belonged to some folks I was trying to help.

Or, consider how Douglas County (and others) handle traffic tickets. If an individual can't pay within the prescribed time, the ticket increases exponentially. Soon, it is an overwhelming debt. Some courts sell the debt to collections, and the poor individual, who couldn't pay the traffic ticket, is back in court, getting wages garnished for a ridiculous amount. It is just as usuerous as title loan operations - which out to be legislated out of business.

The system is broken, it doesn't treat people right, and needs to be exchanged for somethng equitable. And it can all start with a crooked tow truck driver who overcharges after an unfortunate collision. Consider the opportunists who ripped off trucking companies and ditizens alike in Joplin after the recent tornado - and who are holding vehicles hostage still.

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Bossy_Boots 3 years, 3 months ago

Obviously when the LJWorld calls around to the tow companies they are going to tell a reporter a lower price than they would actually charge you- who wants their business to look bad?

The Journal World could have handled this with a little more class instead of publishing an entire article negatively about one tow company based on a consumer complaint, and taking the word of all the other tow companies about how much cheaper they are than that tow company.

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scopi_guy 3 years, 3 months ago

Completely agree with AAA. Great peace of mind, especially when driving out of town or out of state, and when a passanger in someone else's car. Each time I've had to have a tow to the mechanic, they always sent Hillcrest. The driver was always polite each time.

Now, if only they'd go back to allowing us to renew our DL's at AAA. I was really upset when I found out you can't do that anymore. Could be in and out in about 3 minutes for renewal and not have to hassle with the line at the DMV. And you could do it on Saturday mornings, too.

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independant1 3 years, 3 months ago

I broke down about 55 miles outside Colby. Got ride to nearest phone from carload of 4Hers on way to bowling. Called two different tow trucks in local yellow pages. Got a pretty high bill by Colby standards, $155, also got quick charge and coffee while making up my next move. '89 Mercedes needed alternator, needed to get home to get salvaged alternator. The driver had the same model/year Merc with bum alternator. Adsked me to buy two if I find one. His was on the lift in his garage. So bought extra battery at Walmart cancelled trip and drove home.

Felt I got off pretty cheap. Would never accept a tow without knowing the estimated charges. Got gouged for 10 mile tow in New Jersey, $250, but got caught in bind.

Usually tow my own but got caught outside personal sphere of influence.

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