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Archive for Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Unlike Kansas, California and Florida have laws allowing municipalities to set price guidelines for tow companies

July 19, 2011

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Douglas County Administrator Craig Weinaug said this week the county’s hands were tied when it comes to regulating prices charged by local towing companies.

But further research shows some states and municipalities have found ways to keep charges down.

Sunday’s Journal-World article highlighted the story of Lawrence man Ray Bloxsom, who was charged $675 by a local towing company after he was in an accident on Kentucky Street. Bloxsom’s charges included a “mileage charge” of $125, even though his vehicle was towed only three miles.

After his accident, Bloxsom told police he had no preference for which company county dispatchers called for assistance. Douglas County Dispatch operates a rotation list system with 10 local tow companies, and when someone expresses no preference, dispatchers call the next name on the list.

But the county doesn’t regulate how much tow companies can charge for services.

Weinaug cited federal law prohibiting municipalities from excluding companies from the list if they charge too much, or setting a price cap for services.

While there are restrictions against capping tow prices, outlined in the 1995 federal Motor’s Carrier Act, those guidelines don’t pertain to the type of “non-preference” tows included in rotation list systems operated by Douglas County, said Sam Brewer, past president of the Professional Wrecker Operators of Florida.

Per Florida law, counties set the rates tow companies can charge for non-preference tows, Brewer said. And government entities have discretion about who is or is not on rotation lists, said Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Steve Gaskins.

If companies overcharge, the Highway Patrol investigates to make sure the rates conform to county standards.

“If there’s a problem, we kick them off,” Gaskins said.

In California, lawmakers have passed legislation allowing government entities to regulate tow prices, said Glenn Neal, executive director of the California Trucking Association.

Neal said companies on rotation lists must keep their charges within 15 percent of other services on the list. The regulations help keep prices competitive and fair, he said.

Weinaug said that Douglas County officials looked at options several years ago to regulate prices, but couldn’t come up with anything that wouldn’t violate the federal law. But Weinaug said the county would be receptive to options that would set standard prices.

“We would be ecstatic to look at it,” he said.

Comments

notleft_notright 2 years, 9 months ago

I was driving down 6th street today behind an ambulance and the back door swung open and a cooler fell out on the side of the road. I first thought to myself glad I'm not following a hurst. So I pulled off to the side of the road and slowley opened the cooler to find its contents. It was a cooler full of ice and something that looked very peculiar to me. As I sat staring at the cooler's contents packed in ice it dawned on me that I was looking at a human toe, a severed human toe.

So I called 911 and spoke with the dispatch. I told them the street I was on and let them know the ambulance kept driving toward LMH so those in the vehicle never knew the cooler flew out the back. I told dispatch to send another ambulance because I couldn't be out there all day with the cooler and the severed toe cause I had to get to SRS before they shut it down.

So I'm on the side of the road with a severed toe in the cooler packed with ice on the phone with the 911 dispatch and the dispatch tells me they don't have any available ambulances at the moment..

So... I did the next best thing, I called the Toe (tow) Truck!!!!

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sierraclub 2 years, 9 months ago

Yes, the price of gas is price gouging. The property tax is price gouging. The sales tax in Kansas is price gouging.

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love2fish_ks 2 years, 9 months ago

No need for this regulation. We have laws on the books against price gouging. Just enforce what is already there.

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lawrence_citizen 2 years, 9 months ago

I have used Bulldog tow several times. They are competively priced, great service and customer friendly. I highly recommend them!!! Glad to hear the bankruptcy rumor is FALSE!!!

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irvan moore 2 years, 9 months ago

it would be interesting to know which (if any) of these tow services belong to the chamber of commerce or better business bureau

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shanep 2 years, 9 months ago

Not exactly the situation addressed by the article, but my car was towed once (it was my fault, I was parked where I should not have been) I don't believe the outcome was very fair however. I found my car had been towed at 2am and when I called to get it back in the morning the very friendly gentleman on the other end of the phone told me I owed him $300 for the tow, plus $50 a day for storage...and day 1 was already done...after that he told me I had something like 4 days to come up with what would then be $500 or he would petition the state for a lien and sell my vehicle. I felt pretty shanghaied.

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Lawrence Morgan 2 years, 9 months ago

It is true that in California there are laws about towing. I don't understand why Lawrence, and Kansas, can't do the same.

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howie1 2 years, 9 months ago

Well said Jeff, I wish people around this town would get the facts together before bashing good people. You are a great person and have a great company....

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zxcvyuio 2 years, 9 months ago

http://www.benzlogo.com

I tide fashion Good-looking, not expensive Free transport

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George Lippencott 2 years, 9 months ago

Maybe progressive Lawrence should have such laws. Better than a new Rec center

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sierraclub 2 years, 9 months ago

Bulldog is on the verge of bankruptcy. When Fox Collision in Kansas City filed for bankruptcy, customer cars were held. Be very leery of who you do business with. You just never know which company will go under. A&M Towing filled bankruptcy and came back as MBM Towing. University Tow went under and Quality Tow is the owner.

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kansasredlegs 2 years, 9 months ago

If you're in an accident, arrested for DUI, etc., and when told your vehicle must be towed and then asked by Law Enforcement, "Do you have a preference which tow company takes your vehicle?" the answer always is a loud and clear "YES", __ tow company; otherwise, bend over. Just by having a preference you will save hundreds of dollars, just ask any person who has been arrested for DUI.

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BABBOY 2 years, 9 months ago

What a random subject.

Only in Lawrence.

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jaunito 2 years, 9 months ago

anyone know which towing company it was? I'll know who not to call next time I need a tow.

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optimist 2 years, 9 months ago

Why not require that the list contain pricing information and then allow the customer to choose a tow company from the list rather than just go to the next. That way it isn't the city but the consumer making the decision. I can't imangine providing the consumer up-front pricing would violate the law.

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cheeseburger 2 years, 9 months ago

Kudos to DCA Craig Weinaug for opening the door to these discussions.

There are some local tow companies who are operating outside the law, and it would be nice to either force them to comply or shut down. It's an unlevel playing field when some play by the rules and others don't.

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BaldwinDad 2 years, 9 months ago

I'm not sure why the guy having his vehicle towed didn't just ask how much they charge??

Also I know my insurance covers the tow fees after I pay my deductible. Sounds to me like someone just didn't prepare or plan ahead.

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teacher101 2 years, 9 months ago

Yes, Florida has alot of good laws.

Florida is the first State that will require drug testing when applying for welfare.

Some people are crying this is unconstitutional. How is this unconstitutional?

It's OK to drug test the people who work for their money but not those who don't?

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