Unscrupulous towing operations continue to take advantage of non-local truckers by inflating invoices and yanking big rigs from parking lots. Freight carriers and owner-operators across the country are crying foul, but the money-making schemes seem to have only gotten worse.
A recent American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) study called “Causes and Countermeasures of Predatory Towing” indicates that 82.7 percent of truck transportation organizations were excessively charged for towing services. Equally disturbing is the data that points to 81.8 percent of motor carriers discovering unwarranted charges in invoices.
“Predatory towing is a costly issue for motor carriers as well as compliant towing companies, and it has been overlooked for too long,” Shawn R. Brown, Cargo Transporters Vice President of Safety, reportedly said. “With reliable data analysis and a thorough regulatory review, ATRI’s report sheds light on the sources of the problem and paths forward for addressing it by both regulators and trucking fleets.”
Nearly 30 percent of trucking outfits were forced to pay excessive rates or unwarranted costs when a semi-truck was towed due to a collision. These upcharges were typically masked as “service,” “administrative,” or “equipment” fees. This breakout of excessive charges, unveiled by the ATRI data, highlights the percentage of trucking outfits getting stung.
- Excessive hourly or per-pound rates (82.7 percent)
- Unwarranted additional equipment or labor charges (81.8 percent)
- Excessive daily storage rate (77.7 percent)
- Vehicle release delays or access issues (71.7 percent)
- Cargo release delays (61.6 percent)
- Vehicle seizure without cause (55.7 percent)
- Tow operators mis-reporting non-consensual tows as consensual (53.5 percent)
- Damage due to use of improper towing equipment (59.2 percent)
The ATRI breaks predatory towing into two categories — consensual and non-consensual. The former generally involves roadside breakdowns and collisions. The latter has become a source of outrage for truckers.
In Memphis, TN, A1’s Towing and Hauling has come under scrutiny for charging truckers thousands of dollars for non-consensual tows, according to reports.
An Alabama-based freight carrier reportedly paid more than $17,000 to retrieve a pair of semis that were towed by A1’s. Only after a landslide of complaints and a class-action lawsuit did the area’s Transportation Commission temporarily suspend the tow truck company.
“Our industry has enough stress as it is right now with the economy in the shape that it is in right now. We are probably going through one of the slowest revenue periods of my company in 23 years,” Fenn Church of Church Transportation reportedly said. “The whole industry is feeling it, and then you got leeches in our system like these operators.”