Most towing companies and tow service providers operate with integrity and follow the letter of the law. However, this is not always the case. The term “predatory towing” refers to tow service providers who use illegal or unethical methods to maximize their profits. Some of the more common predatory towing tactics include “satellite” towing, in which the tow provider removes cars illegally parked on private property. Usually, the company also has a “spotter” at that location who calls the tow company when they see a potential tow. Here at B&D Towing, we’re proud to serve the community of Pleasant Hill without taking advantage of our customers. Reputable towing companies don’t engage in predatory or illegal towing. Here are a few ways to protect yourself from illegal towing:
Tow providers who operate in an illegal or unethical manner tend to take advantage of people in stressful situations such as a car accident. However, there are a few things motorists can do to avoid scams.
One of the most important things people can do to protect themselves from predatory towing is to learn the local law and ordinances concerning towing services. For example, in Pleasant Hill, city ordinance states that “response times to arrive at [the] place of service shall be a maximum of 20 minutes, seven days per week.” Some predatory tow companies charge travel time, so it’s important to realize that they’re obligated by local ordinance to arrive at a place of service within twenty minutes, thirty minutes during high traffic times in Pleasant Hill. This knowledge can help you avoid expensive travel time fees charged by unethical tow companies.
According to Pleasant Hill ordinances, tow service providers must have a “driver on call, capable of responding to a police request for towing and for a citizen’s request for release of vehicle 24 hours per day, seven days per week, including holidays.” Some predatory tow companies will charge for storage while unavailable to the property owner. This practice is unethical at the very least and illegal, according to Pleasant Hill ordinances.
Pleasant Hill city ordinances dictate that an established tow truck company should have certain equipment (“at least three fully equipped tow trucks”), insurance coverage, vehicle storage facilities, and more. Unethical or illegal towing service providers may not adhere to local ordinances.
Before parking in an unfamiliar lot or in a location you’ve never parked before, make sure to read all signage posted at the entrances and exits of the lots. Usually, these signs will inform motorists of parking restrictions. Reputable towing companies tend to post visible, clear signage at properties where they provide tow services.
If involved in a car wreck that results in the immobilization of a vehicle, make sure to call the insurance company or tow service provider directly. A common tow scam involves a tow truck showing up to accidents without being called to take advantage of stranded drivers and charge exorbitant fees for their services. Make sure the tow company’s truck matches the same company name provided by an insurance agent.
Reputable tow service providers will tow your vehicle to any location of your choosing. Be wary of any tow service provider that states otherwise or tries to get you to tow the car to their shop. You have the right to choose.
While rarer than targeting individuals, some predatory tow companies target businesses as well. In this tow scam, con artists pose as tow truck drivers and call businesses to inform them of an incoming car due for repair or other services. Then, the scammer fills out paperwork and hands over “keys” to the vehicle. The business pays the towing fee, thinking the insurance will reimburse them. However, in this scam, there is no car; the keys aren’t to anything, and the scammer takes off with the money.
If you’ve already fallen into a tow scammer’s trap, there are a few things to do:
The first thing to do if you believe a predatory towing company has towed you is to check the local ordinances and see if the tow company violated any of them. If so, you can file a complaint with local law enforcement.
If you believe that the charge for tow services is unfair, you may be able to dispute the charge. Most tow service ordinances state that fees must be “reasonable” and per other tow companies in the area.
While the amount of money may not be enough to warrant the hiring of an attorney, you can still speak with legal counsel to understand your rights and the process of small claims court if you choose.
Predatory tow companies give the rest of us a bad name. Rest assured that we here at B&D Towing value our customers and their belongings, and we are proud to serve Pleasant Hill with high-quality emergency tow services, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call today to get started!