Report claims towing firms gouge drivers

    Private tow truck operators in the city of Philadelphia have been ripping off car owners, according to a new report issued by the City Controller.

    Private tow truck operators in the city of Philadelphia have been ripping off car owners, according to a new report issued by the City Controller.
    Caption: Signs placed around the city incorrectly quote the towing fee as $175 dollars. They also falsely claim motorists can only pay in cash.

    Listen:
    [audio: 091110sptow.mp3]

    Signs often tell you that if you get caught parking illegally in a private lot, you can be charged $175 dollars for the tow, plus $25 dollars a day for storage. At the bottom are the words “Cash Only.” But city law says the hook-up charge should only be $150 dollars, and companies must accept credit cards. City Controller Alan Butkovitz says the department of Licenses and Inspections isn’t enforcing the law.

    091110sptow_1

    Butkovitz: You can lecture private companies to do a better job but the way we get compliance is by having teeth in the way the government enforces it. L and I supposedly has the teeth but in practice they don’t. So that leaves a large gap through which you can drive a tow truck through.

    Butkovitz says a car owner now has little recourse. He’d like to see the city limit ripoffs by requiring police issue a ticket before any private tow truck operator could take a vehicle.

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