Canada

Adam: Ottawa’s tow truck industry a ‘Wild West’ that needs regulation

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What’s at the heart of the problem is that quite often, people involved in collisions or crashes find their vehicles towed without permission, then have to pay exorbitant fees to get them back. Provincial law requires tow-truck drivers to get authorization from clients and provide them with a detailed invoice before towing. But it never happens. Truckers take advantage of people who often don’t know their rights or are too distraught after a collision to assert them. Then it becomes an expensive tug-of-war to get vehicles back.

Horror stories abound.

One woman was told her SUV would be towed to a body shop but it ended up in a compound elsewhere. Pleas to her councillor and MPP for help got nowhere and she was forced to pay a $2,900 storage fee to get her vehicle back. In the wake of the 2018 tornado that hit the capital, Gatineau resident Richard Dumont’s damaged SUV was towed without his knowledge or permission to a location more than 30 kilometres away and by the time he got his truck back, his insurance company was out-of-pocket to the tune of $1,800.  In 2017, an Ottawa couple was billed $4,000 for towing and storage and the vehicle literally held hostage until the bill was paid. Eventually, the vehicle was released after a $1,594 payment.

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