Archive for Thursday, March 7, 2013

New towing policy has addressed overcharging concerns, county official says

March 7, 2013


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New towing policy ( .PDF )

Eudora woman Jen Middleton's son, Devin, was in an accident in the family's Ford Windstar in March. No one was injured in the accident, but Middleton was given a $1,110 bill for the six-mile tow.

Eudora woman Jen Middleton's son, Devin, was in an accident in the family's Ford Windstar in March. No one was injured in the accident, but Middleton was given a $1,110 bill for the six-mile tow.

Four months in, a new county policy regulating how much towing companies can charge has alleviated overcharging concerns expressed by residents, said Douglas County Administrator Craig Weinaug.

For the past several years, numerous residents complained about overcharging by local towing companies on the county's nonpreference towing list. In some cases, local residents were charged more than $1,000 for a simple tow.

At an accident scene, motorists can choose whatever towing company they want to haul their vehicle. But if the owner doesn’t have a preference, the county’s emergency dispatch will choose a company based on a rotating list of area towing companies.

In the past, towing companies could charge however much they wanted. But in September, county commissioners approved a resolution — that went into effect Nov. 1 — requiring towing companies on the list to sign a contract, agreeing to set prices.

For simple tows, the charges are set at $150, with varying adjustments for more complicated tows.

Weinaug said the change has stopped the frequent calls from outraged residents, but discussions continue among the towing companies about whether the set prices are high enough.

"Some of them are not happy with the amount they're getting per tow," he said.

Troy Gentry, owner of 19th Street Towing and Recovery, however, was an advocate for a change to the old system and said he thinks "it's just fine. No problem for me."

Over at Hillcrest Towing, owner Jerry Taylor also said he's OK with the current prices, but has heard complaints from other owners.

Taylor said it might take more time to see whether the policy is fair, though.

"It takes a while to see what the effects are going to be," he said.


JustWonderingAgain 5 years, 2 months ago

OMG, $150.00 is a lot of money. Money hungry companies like this will go under fast, I know Hillcrest has been around forever and will mkae due with the changes. Good luck ALL!

Joe Berns 5 years, 2 months ago

Maybe its just me, but $150.00 for an in town tow sounds a lot like fleecing.

I can see 50-60 bucks for the hour of time it takes to hook up and tow to wherever you want in Lawrence, but 3x that is ridiculous. I'd even jump to $75.00 but that would be pushing it. Time starts when the truck starts hooking up to the vehicle or putting it on the flatbed.

Currahee 5 years, 2 months ago

I'm not too familiar but I would think that the tow truck would require frequent maintenance, more than the average car. Throw in the cost of employee pay and benefits with insurance and gas. ... $1000 is nonsense. $150 is more reasonable.

Hooligan_016 5 years, 2 months ago

I would like to see a detailed list of the costs then for the towing companies that think $150 is too little money.

flyin_squirrel 5 years, 2 months ago

So a truck payment, at least an hour worth of time (probably more like 2 when you consider driving to the car, paperwork, hooking the car up, driving to the body shop or repair shop, unhooking the car, and then driving back to your home base), gas, insurance for truck, liability insurance for the car you are towing, and paperwork processing or insurance processing to get paid are not worth $150?

And this isn't taking into account any problems that may arise, or maintenance on the tow-truck.

Joe Berns 5 years, 2 months ago

You can't count driving to the car as time spent. I don't get paid to drive to work, neither should they. And, the truck payment is a tax writeoff. 1 hour, tops. Driving back to home base in Lawrence is about 10 minutes from just about anywhere. I can't imagine someone doing this job is getting paid more than about $15-20/hour as it is unskilled labor. Tow companies tow a lot of vehicles daily so break out the insurance, paperwork processing, etc out and that comes to a few dollars per trip.

And no, definitely not worth $150. That is insane.

otto 5 years, 2 months ago

The truck payment is a cost of doing business more so than a tax write off. You have to earn it first to be able to spend it. There are only two sides to a financial statement = income and expenses. I am positive you don't understand a word I said but someday maybe you will get it.

Joe Berns 5 years, 2 months ago

I'm aware of that. My point is, they do get to write off capital purchases as expenses or at least a large portion of them. It's not a matter of "getting it", I'm a college graduate and do understand income and expenses. Why is it many tow companies have no issues with $150.00 per tow but others do. I think they are the ones who "don't get it".

MarcoPogo 5 years, 2 months ago

"You can't count driving to the car as time spent. I don't get paid to drive to work, neither should they."

But an employee of the towing company would be on the clock during the time from leaving the office and going to hook up a car, right? Part of the workday, so it's not the same as you driving to work.

Joe Berns 5 years, 2 months ago

Don't know, Marco. I don't know how they are paid, per tow or per hour, but when they aren't driving the truck, I'm sure there is other work to be done around the business. I doubt they go back to the office and sit around playing cards. At any rate, if they are paid from the time they get in the truck to when they get back, Lawrence isn't a sprawling metropolis and doesn't take long to get from one side to the other and back.

Currahee 5 years, 2 months ago

You are getting paid to drive to work. They're paying you to drive and come to work.

Eugehne Normandin 5 years, 2 months ago

Do you drive a tow truck?Towing a car is not unskilled labor as it involves more than driving to the car and back. Would you drive somewhere for your employer for free.What if weather traffic etc. did not allow you to drive back to home base in 10 minutes ? few dollars per trip do you think tow truck insurance is inexpensive ?!50.00 dollars is not fleecing. .

TongiJayhawk 5 years, 2 months ago

Exactly! I guess these folks complaining it's too high, must work for someone else and have never run their own business!

drake 5 years, 2 months ago

They are also the ones that complain about under paid employees.

fourkitties 5 years, 2 months ago

So what about those people out there that are disabled and can afford a car from a used lot and someone runs into them and then they have to get a tow and pay for it? those people don't have 1,000 laying around. Some don't even have 150. I'm thinking of a scene I saw where a veteran got hit and he didn't have the money for the tow.

West_Sider 5 years, 2 months ago

If you think $75 for a tow is to much, you should make a small investment every year in AAA.

Joe Berns 5 years, 2 months ago

I own my own trailer and tow vehicle, but yes, for those who don't, AAA is great.

Blessed4x 5 years, 2 months ago

AAA people. It's worth the peace of mind. $150 is very reasonable for a tow. Anything less wouldn't even allow the companies to stay in business. Get AAA and never worry about it again.

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 2 months ago

I do not know about all of them, but my insurance company first requires me to pay for the tow out of pocket. Then, I need to save the paperwork, take it to the office, and show it to them. Then, a while after that, they will send me a check to cover it.

Plus, I have to find the tow service on my own. AAA will locate one for you with one phone call through their network.

So, unless you have the money laying around, or a credit card, you're still in a jam. Other insurance companies may be different.

gatekeeper 5 years, 2 months ago

I have State Farm and that's what they do, but all I have to do is fax in the receipt and get a check the next day. Pretty sad if you can't pay out of pocket and wait a day for a check.

ezbreezy 5 years, 2 months ago

I have lived in multiple states from Maine to Florida to here in Kansas. $100-150 sounds about the average tow. ($1,000!! Now that's just taking advantage of people and I am glad that has been fixed) Let's take a minute to discuss the reasons to be towed: Parking violations, car broke down, accident, abandoned car... the list could go on. These examples all warrent a price tag to take care of. The time, proper insurance coverage to protect the tow truck, the car in tow, and the people who are being transported in the tow truck, mileage, and the car may have to stay with the tow company. If the car has to stay in their lot, I think that it should be covered in the $150 but I think they do charge per day on top of towing. $150 is a lot of money but its for a service, you can op out of being towed and pay the fine, but that goes to the goverment when it coulf go to a small business. You have a choice you decide.

Jeremiah Jefferson 5 years, 2 months ago

If you think $150 is bad, try Midwest towing. You won't get a car towed by them for less than several hundred dollars. In some cases as high as $600-$700 in town. Not only do they overcharge, they keep cars hostage at their lots incurring hefty daily storage fees. I have heard of instances where Midwest was told to deliver cars to specified repair facilities by the owner imeadiatly following the accident but the car doesn't arrive for several days or untill someone calls trying to locate it. My recomendation would be 19th Street Towing, but I know there are a few more good and reasonable tow companies out there.

gatekeeper 5 years, 2 months ago

I've used HIllcrest many times in the past and they always charged me just $55.

We had to have a different company pull my husband's car out of a drainage ditch during the first snow storm. They're 3 blocks from my house and charged $85 just to hook up a chain and pull it out a few feet. I know employees from this company drive the tow trucks around as their personal vehicles. Maybe costs could be cut if they actually drove their own cars while off duty.

Fluffhead 5 years, 2 months ago

I agree with catfish. Midwest tow completely rapes people. I had a friend who got in an accident on 23rd and Haskell, and midwest ended up charging him over $2000 once the car was picked up by his insurance company two days later. State Farm told him they had never seen a charge like that before. Stay away from those guys.

Bob Forer 5 years, 2 months ago

Troy Gentry, owner of 19th Street Towing and Recovery, however, was an advocate for a change to the old system and said he thinks "it's just fine. No problem for me."

Thanks, Troy for revealing your thoughts. I would never dream of doing business with someone like you. Couldn't trust you as far as I could throw ya. You've just be x'ed off my list, and I am going to let my friends and family know as well.

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