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Scam Central

Complaints against towing companies rise 55 percent

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July 22, 2011 | 1,824 views | Post a comment

Know your rights and expectations to avoid costly fees

AUSTIN, Texas - In the past 12 months, Better Business Bureau received 95 complaints against local towing companies, a 55 percent increase from the previous 12 months. While the majority of these complaints were addressed by the company, the average towing fee consumers report paying was more than $700. Whether a vehicle is broken down and requires towing or is towed for illegal parking, BBB reminds consumers to research companies carefully and understand the necessary fees associated with a tow.

The most common complaint BBB receives against towing companies allege the consumer’s vehicle was towed from an area the consumer claims to have properly parked in. Other common complaints allege damage to vehicles during the towing process and additional, unexpected or misleading fees added to the final bill.

“Consumers don’t realize prices are not regulated across the board,” said Dana Gardiner, Executive Director of Texas Towing & Storage Association. “Some cities have their own regulated towing rates.”

Consumers who have their vehicle towed should consider the following BBB tips:

· Contact the towing company immediately. The company’s contact information should be displayed on a sign in the area where you parked. Retrieve your car as quickly as possible because many towing companies include a storage fee based on the amount of time a vehicle remains in their facility.

· Inspect your vehicle before leaving. Make sure there is no damage from the tow and any items you had in the vehicle are accounted for. Take pictures for proof in case you need to fill out an incident report.

· Ask for a detailed receipt. All fees rendered for towing and storing your vehicle should be itemized in writing. Review them carefully and ask for clarification before you pay.

· Avoid paying with cash. Vehicle storage facilities must accept payment by electronic check, credit card or debit card for any fee or charge associated with delivery or storage of a vehicle.

In addition to the tips above, BBB recommends consumers who are in need of towing services:

· Contact roadside assistance. Many vehicles and car insurance policies come with roadside assistance. Even if the towing services are not completely free, odds are the towing company will be one you can trust. If you don’t have roadside assistance, visit m.bbb.org on your smartphone to find trustworthy towing companies in your area.

· Ask to see proof the company is licensed. All towing companies must be registered with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. Additionally, tow trucks must have a permit and drivers have to be licensed.

Consumers who feel their vehicle was wrongfully towed can file a complaint with BBB and the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. To check the reliability of a company and find trustworthy businesses, visit BBB.

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