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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

BaldwinDad 3 years, 2 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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JustNoticed 3 years, 2 months ago

Well ain't you just a model Boy Scout?

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ksjayhawk74 3 years, 2 months ago

I really hope you're not saying that it's OK to be overcharged, as long as the insurance company is paying for it. You know that does increase your premium rates.

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sitdownnorm 3 years, 2 months ago

Hard to believe the 18-year old kid didn't know that the tow industry wasn't regulated and that some companies will charge more than double what others will charge. My insurance company paid for something like $250 out of a $400 tow so I'm not sure any insurance company will pay the full $680. Sure hope the city/county gets something in place soon. The paper should have prominently stated MIDWEST TOW AND RECOVERY was the company involved.

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optimist 3 years, 2 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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jaunito 3 years, 2 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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kansasredlegs 3 years, 2 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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farmersdaughter 3 years, 2 months ago

Bulldog is on the verge of bankruptcy???? Do tell sierraclub!!

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Bulldogtow 3 years, 2 months ago

As the owner of Bulldog this is news to me. Did you hear this false information from some jealous "competitors".? I pay my drivers the highest rate of any company in town, provide paid Health Insurance, and have numerous multiple year contracts. Please remove my company name from your false post! Thank you Jeff Jacob Owner Bulldog Tow

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Kontum1972 3 years, 2 months ago

nice how some one slandered u....

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Bob Forer 3 years, 2 months ago

I have used Bulldog Tow several times, and they are always fast, fair and friendly. One time my serpentine belt broke on I-70 halfway between Topeka and Lawrence. They had to go all the way to the Topeka exchange to turn around as I was headed east. The bill was a little over $100 to town me into my garage in Lawrence. I thought it was very reasonable and Bulldog will always be my tow company of choice.

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Salvia 3 years, 2 months ago

Private property tows are called in by the landlords. Evidently the property owner did not consider your friend a guest.

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George Lippencott 3 years, 2 months ago

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

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howie1 3 years, 2 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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Lawrence Morgan 3 years, 2 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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shanep 3 years, 2 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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George_Braziller 3 years, 2 months ago

Sorry, you don't have much of an argument here. You parked where you knew you shouldn't have parked and you admit it was your own fault. I'm not following the logic about how you were "shanghaied."

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lawrencian 3 years, 2 months ago

I'd guess it was the part where the car was towed at 2am, and when he called the same morning, when the business opened for the day, they already charged him the additional daily storage fee when he couldn't have possibly gotten there any sooner...

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George_Braziller 3 years, 2 months ago

Yes, towed at 2 a.m. from a place he knew it was illegal to park. The cost is irrelevant. He was just hoping he wouldn't get caught but did. Maybe he was the guy who's car I had towed out of my front yard because he seemed to think it was a parking lot.

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irvan moore 3 years, 2 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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lawrence_citizen 3 years, 2 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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love2fish_ks 3 years, 2 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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