Tow truck trouble: Who regulates towing costs? - - The News for South Mississippi

Tow truck trouble: Who regulates towing costs?

Getting towed is no fun.

Not only is it inconvenient, but it can also be expensive.

Is there anyone who regulates towing costs? You might be surprised by what we found out.

It's a common scene.

You're cruising down the interstate and you see a wrecked vehicle hauled off by a tow truck.

On November 21, 2013, Pearl resident Jason Alston's car was towed to Capitol Towing in Flowood after his stepson flipped off of highway 468. Alston's initial bill was $499.69.

"My insurance company said they would pay the bill and Capitol Body kept on insisting that I pay out of pocket."

In their notes Capitol Towing wrote that Alston's insurance company would reimburse Alston after he paid for the tow charges up front. 

Capitol Towing also notes that storage fees would add up.

Alston retrieved his vehicle on December 2, 2013. By that time, he owed $1,128. 32.

Alston took his dilemma to the Mississippi Highway Patrol.

"He told me they were only supposed to charge me $125 because they had an agreement," Alston said.

Trooper Eric Henry says the agreement between MHP and the wreckers they work with is simply a verbal agreement on the minimum cost wreckers charge customers. A written policy is in the making.

"It's in the works we don't have a time frame it is something that is our concern," Trooper Henry told us.

Alston then took his concerns to Rankin County Justice Court.

The judge ruled in his favor.

Alston says he retrieved more than $370 from Capitol towing and an insurance check.

We stopped by Capitol Towing and spoke to Office Manager Whitney Wilson. Wilson told us the company charges a $125 flat rate for towing, but that cost can go up depending on the circumstances of the tow.

When it comes to Alston's bill, Wilson said an employee made a clerical error charging Alston $150 more.

"It was a mistake we refunded Mr. Alston in full for the charges and hope maybe one day in the future he'll choose to use us again, " Wilson said.

So, now you might be wondering, "Who's protecting me from an expensive bill if my car is towed?"

According to the MHP, there's no law in Mississippi regulating what wreckers charge. But individual cities have ordinances.

For instance in Flowood, if police call in a tow for a driver there's a $125 standard wrecker fee, no storage fee for the first 48 hours and gas fees cannot be charged.

We decided to dig a little deeper and reached out to other towing companies about their fees.

Robert Burkett owns Burkett's Towing and Recovery in Jackson.

For his company he says, "It all depends on where you're located at but normally it's going to be $85 around Jackson and it goes up from that point."

Burkett says if he receives a call from JPD about a tow the cost is $75 and $25 per day storage. He charges $225 for a vehicle towed for being parked improperly. Storage is $35 a day.

The costs are similar at Big Boyz Towing/Super Limo where the flat rate is 75 bucks for a tow.

As we're learning, the rate can go up though depending on the location you're towed from.

Big Boyz Towing charges $125 for a tow on an abandoned or improperly parked vehicle and storage is typically 30 bucks per day.

Manager Ashley Clark says drivers need to check to see if they have roadside assistance.

"It's always great to check with your insurance company to see if you have roadside assistance before you just call and pay $75 for a tow that could have been covered."

We also took a trip out to KMA Towing and Recovery in Ridgeland. They weren't on site when we showed up. They also didn't want to talk to us on the phone.

But according to their sign, they charge a $65 after hours gate fee and $35 storage. 

When it comes to pricey towing charges Alston has this advice if you think you've been ripped off. 

"You don't have to argue with them just take them to court, let the judge do what he do."

As we've learned there's no state law to monitor what towing companies charge you.

But, if you do feel like you've been ripped off you're encouraged to take your concerns to the better business bureau and the judicial system.

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