Tow truck tricks: Don’t get scammed after an accident (CBC Marketplace)

Tow truck tricks: Don’t get scammed after an accident (CBC Marketplace)


>>Gill: This is your
“Marketplace”.
>>Erica: We’re heading to the
scene of an accident
with the cops in Ottawa.
On the lookout for tow truck
drivers’ dirty tricks.
This accident just happened, but
already seven tow
trucks have shown up.
>>As soon as the police
officers arrive, they scatter
just like cockroaches.
>>Erica: There goes one.
Sergeant John Kiss is a veteran
traffic cop.
>>It’s bad enough that we have
two cars blocking the
intersection, but then you got
six truck and sometimes the
drivers get out of the trucks
being aggressive with each
other, with the cars involved,
with you guys.
>>It’s like a pool of sharks.
Six tow trucks show up.
>>Erica: Why are they so
desperate to get here first?
>>Collision tow is very
lucrative for these companies.
It’s worth 6, 7, $800 to tow a
vehicle from a collision scene.
This is the thing that we’re
faced with time and
time again day after day.
>>Erica: With so much cash at
stake, are some tow truck
drivers using tricks to take you
for a ride?
Erin Moore is on her way to
work.
She’s a makeup artist in
Toronto.
Suddenly, the car in front stops
fast.
She rear-ends it.
A tow truck quickly shows up.
She says no thanks and drives to
a side street to exchange info
with the other driver.
But the tow truck driver follows
her.
>>He was saying things like, it
may look fine; Like, I know
it just looks like a little
fender bender but if a wheel
falls off when you’re driving
down the highway and
causes someone else to crash,
that’s on you.
>>Erica: So Erin agrees to be
towed to the collision reporting
centre but somehow the tow truck
driver first takes her to the
wrong one, an extra hour of
towing.
Then he recommends he take her
car here to
Taurus Auto Collision.
>>I’m feverishly looking online
for reviews on this place,
and I’m not finding anything
good.
>>Erica: Erin wants to find out
where her insurance company
wants her to go, but the tow
truck driver takes
her car around back.
She texts a friend to come help
>>Not to sound like the damsel
in distress, but I wanted my guy
friend there to lay down the law
and say give her her car back.
>>Erica: But when her friend
shows up,
the owner locks the gate.
>>At that point she was saying
well, you know what?
That’s not a $250 tow anymore.
And she starts upping it.
>>Erica: They finally negotiate
a deal to get the car back.
Over $700 in cash.
Turns out, all that extra towing
adds up to $217 for mileage plus
250 for the tow.
60 for storage.
And just to tow her car from the
back of the autobody shop out to
the street, an extra $103.
>>I felt duped.
I felt stupid.
I felt tricked.
(police radio)
>>Erica: Who else will get
tricked?
We’re back on the road,
in an unmarked car, monitoring a
special police feed for
accidents.
>>There’s another tow truck
here. Look.
>>Okay, see he’s in a hurry.
>>Erica: He is, he is.
Aggressive tow trucks have
become a safety
hazard racing to accidents.
>>Ooh look at that.
>>Blocking emergency crews.
That’s why Ottawa has got a
bylaw.
Tow trucks can’t come within 100
metres of an accident unless
they’re called by the cops or a
driver.
They can be fined $190.
>>Hey.
>>How are ya?
>>What are you doing here?
>>What AM I doing?
I was going home, actually.
>>What does the bylaw say?
>>Not to be within a hundred
metres.
>>How close are you to the
collision scene?
>>I think this is more than a
hundred metres.
>>Buy yourself a tape measure
and find out —
>>I don’t need to buy myself a
tape measure.
You could tape measure it right
now.
>>Erica: While Kiss goes to
pace it out… is it very
competitive trying to get these
tows?
>>It comes down to almost a
race.
And to how well you are good at
talking to somebody and kind of,
y’know getting them to believe
whatever you can say.
>>Erica: After measuring,
sergeant Kiss says
this driver is too close.
>>50 paces from here.
>>I’m not going to argue —
>>Don’t argue because if you
want me too I’ll go get
a tape measure and charge you.
>>– That’s what I’m saying
>>– So move on.
Go.
>>Erica: The tow truck driver
starts to drive
away but then stops.
Walks back to us.
>>Is he looking for a bylaw
ticket?
Go ahead.
>>The other accident that I was
on the other day, I
got a ticket.
The other gentleman didn’t.
>>I wasn’t there, but I can
tell you what all the officers
are being told to do.
At a collision scene enforce the
bylaw.
We’ve got never-ending public
complaints about what’s
happening at collision scenes
because it’s out of control.
>>Erica: Arguing with police?
Risking safety to get to an
accident?
We’re about to learn why for
some tow
truck drivers it’s worth it.
[ ♪♪ ]
Fitness trainer Sahil Mulla is
driving his sports car just
outside Toronto when suddenly
he’s rear-ended.
>>Tow truck drivers, they
showed up within 5, 10 minutes.
I was in shock a little bit,
obviously.
So the tow truck guy’s like,
I’ll help you out, no worries.
They made me feel all safe and
stuff.
>>Erica: Sahil asked where he
should take his car.
>>There’s this Lyons Autobody
Shop, I get my car fixed
there all the time.
They’re awesome.
Just take it there, leave the
car there, because it was a
Saturday, and they said on
Monday you can talk
to your insurance.
>>Erica: But on Monday when he
tries to get his car moved
to a shop his insurance company
prefers, Lyons wants whopping
storage fees for two days 8,000
bucks.
He’s stuck.
>>That’s when I realized
something was really wrong.
I went online, I did my
research.
>>Erica: The reviews aren’t
exactly comforting.
“Do not take your business to
them.”
“They held the car hostage.”
“Do not let them touch your
car.”
The repairs are only supposed to
take a month.
(phone ringing)
>>Hi there. Could I talk to
Brian please?
>>Erica: Three months later
he’s still trying
to get his car back.
Lyons says parts have been
delayed.
>>Erica: Finally what he’s been
waiting to hear.
>>For sure today, though,
right?
>>Erica: But an hour later
Lyons calls back.
Now they say Sahil can’t have
his car.
Seems his insurance company
won’t pay the hefty Bill.
So he gives them a call.
His insurance agent says Lyons
isn’t being very cooperative.
>>I think they’re hanging onto
my car as leverage.
>>Okay.
>>Erica: He waits, anxious
about his car.
>>Hello?
>>Don’t get taken for a ride,
get hooked onmarketplace.
[ ♪♪ ]
>>Erica: Three months after his
accident, Sahil Mulla is still
trying to get his car back from
the garage it was towed to.
>>I’m being serious about
getting my car back,
and I’ll do whatever it takes.
>>Erica: He heads into Lyons
Autobody.
>>Erica: Secretly recording on
his phone.
>>Erica: How’s that for
customer service?
Sahil now wishes he hadn’t let
the tow truck driver talk him
into taking his car to Lyons.
Why would a tow truck operator
take a driver to a
particular autobody shop?
>>It’s well-known that in
certain elements of the towing
industry and autobody shops the
autobody shops will give
kickbacks to tow truck drivers
for bringing them the business.
>>Erica: So they’re getting
money for steering drivers
to a particular repair shop?
>>Oh, yes absolutely.
That’s not uncommon or new.
I’ve heard a 500 to a thousand
dollars.
>>Erica: That’s a lot of money.
What’s in it for the
auto body shop?
>>Well they get the lucrative
repair contract.
When the average car can run 40,
$50,000 new, it’s nothing to run
up a 10,15, $20,000 repair bill,
what’s 500 or a thousand of that
given to the tow truck driver
that brings them the business?
>>Erica: easy to see why some
tow truck drivers are desperate
to get you hooked.
Back on our ride-along…
>>That’s nearby.
We’ll go check that one out.
>>Erica: Another accident comes
across the police feed.
>>It’s up there.
Looks like there’s tow trucks
there too.
>>Erica: Remember Ottawa’s
bylaw says tow trucks aren’t
allowed within 100 metres of an
accident unless they’ve been
called to the scene.
>>What are you doing here?
>>Trying to make a living, sir.
I have five kids to support.
>>Go and sit in your truck.
Go and sit in your truck. Go
>>Excuse me, sir.
>>Erica: Just wondering did
they call you to this accident?
This person in the accident?
>>What’s the point you guys
following us
everywhere and asking questions?
>>Erica: We’re wondering if
you’re following the bylaw.
So you just showed up here
without him actually
calling you in?
>>Did you call this tow truck
to the scene?
>>No, he said he works for the
police.
>>He told you he worked for the
police and he showed
up here by himself.
>>Yeah.
>>Okay, so this tow truck
showed up at the scene.
He said that he works with us.
And he’s about to hook up to
this gentleman’s car, which
apart from the cosmetic damage
of the bumper missing certainly
seems to be drivable at this
stage.
What do you feel about driving
your car?
>>I can drive it.
>>There you go.
>>Erica: Drivable?
Not the message they get from
the tow truck driver.
>>He just was getting ready to
tow it and then that police
officer showed up.
>>Erica: So If the police
officer hadn’t shown up,
would you have let
him tow your car?
>>Oh, yeah.
I wouldn’t have known better.
>>Erica: Looks like we helped
this couple avoid a tow
trick in the nick of time.
But wait a second.
>>Here’s another tow truck.
What are you doing here?
>>What I’m doing?
>>Yeah.
What’s the bylaw say?
>>100 feet.
>>100 metres.
>>Metres?
>>Yeah. 300 feet.
I think you’re closer than that.
>>Erica: While this guy tries
to scoop some business, the
first tow truck driver takes
off.
The previous driver here
recommended that
this car be towed.
And now he’s taking off.
This car doesn’t need to be
towed.
>>Actually he run away from
ticket.
I came here to see accident.
Yes, I want to tow accident.
Because I have two kids.
I have, like, a property tax to
pay.
>>Erica: So how much money is
this little fender bender worth?
If you bring it to a particular
body shop, what kind of
commission do you get from the
body shop for bringing them
business?
>>Me personally I don’t deal
with that stuff.
I know many body shops they pay
money to bring them accidents.
Some people they pay 2 to $500.
Yes.
They pay.
The body shop, they pay the tow
truck.
>>Erica: Have you ever been
offered that commission?
>>I been offered, but I refuse.
>>Erica: How much were they
offering?
>>They offer me $300 yes.
>>Gill: This is your
“Marketplace”.
[ ♪♪ ]
>>Erica: We’re revealing how
you can protect
yourself from tow tricks.
It’s been nothing but headaches
for Sahil Mulla since his car
was towed after an accident.
He’s waited three months to get
it fixed.
Battled bad customer service.
Now he’s on his way back to
Lyons Autobody.
>>Hopefully today I will walk
out with my car.
>>Erica: This time with an
insurance check
for over $13,000.
>>Money talks. I’m hoping
money will be the reason they’ll
release the vehicle today.
If they pull something, it’s
going to be another fight.
>>Erica: We go in with him,
hidden cameras rolling.
>>Erica: Out comes the owner,
John Lyons.
>>Erica: After three months,
the body shop damages the car?
>>Erica: Sahil can’t believe
it.
>>If you look at it, it’s not
good.
It makes me angry.
How do you have a ding on a car
before a customer
is supposed to pick it up?
I wouldn’t tell anybody to go to
this shop. Ever.
I don’t know how they’re in
business.
They rely on tow trucks I guess.
>>Erica: With that kind of
service why would a tow truck
driver suggest anyone take their
car to Lyons?
We check out the company that
towed Sahil’s car,
Credit Valley Towing.
They’re tow truck driver just
said Lyons was a good shop.
But look at all those Lyons tow
trucks.
What’s the deal?
>>Hi, is this Mr. Zeineh?
>>Erica: To find out, a
“Marketplace” staffer
gives Credit Valley a call.
>>When you take the vehicle to
different autobody shops, do you
guys sometimes get referral
fees?
>>There’s an autobody shop
called Lyons.
Do you work with them?
I notice that on the website–
>>You do?
Do you have an arrangement with
them?
>>So do they give you referral
fees for bringing
vehicles to them?
>>Erica: Lyons doesn’t want to
talk to us on camera.
So we pay them a visit.
Brian Majocha is the manager who
handled Sahil’s car.
Erica Johnson from
“Marketplace”.
We wanted to talk about a
customer —
>>You gotta shut the cameras
off.
>>Erica: Well, we have a couple
questions —
>>No comment.
John will be back on Monday.
You can speak to him at that
time.
>>Erica: What’s your position
here?
Aren’t you a manager?
>>Yes.
>>Erica: So, we’re curious
about your relationship
with tow truck operators.
>>There’s no relation.
There’s nothing.
So okay.
>>Erica: Are you paying tow
truck drivers
to bring customers here?
>>No.
Have a good day.
>>Erica: Shouldn’t people know
when they’re brought here that
tow truck drivers a secretly
benefiting?
A manager who can’t answer
anything.
[ ♪♪ ]
>>Erica: Keeping people in the
dark might explain why Erin
Moore didn’t know her tow truck
driver was also working for the
body shop she got towed to.
It’s been more than a year since
she had to pay over $700 to get
her car away from Taurus Auto
Collision.
A tow Erin didn’t even need.
Taurus tells us they have no
recollection of Erin,
her car or the dispute.
And that the tow truck driver
doesn’t work there anymore.
>>Hopefully people see what
happened to me and they’ll
become more aware that they
don’t let it happen to them.
>>Erica: It was a hard lesson
for Erin.
But there was a silver lining.
That friend she called to help
rescue her car was so sweet,
he’s now her sweetie.
For years now, the Ontario
government has been promising
new rules to protect people.
Now due sometime next year.
If you’re in a crash, don’t get
hooked.
Call the 1-800 number on youret
insurance slip and get advice on
where to get towed so you’re not
at the whim of tow tricks.

100 Replies to “Tow truck tricks: Don’t get scammed after an accident (CBC Marketplace)”

  1. Never let them take it to ANY repair shop. ALWAYS make them take it to your home and then search for a repair shop of your choice.

  2. You can get AAA or even use a family members unused free tow. You can sit on side of the road literally all day if you aren't obstructing traffic and tell Cop you are waiting for AAA to come. Tow trucks take advantage of people who think you have to get car off side of road ASAP. My spare tire doesn't have a rim so I had a flat that I had to take off the rim, put the new one on the rim and pump up the tire. This process took maybe 1 hour and the Cop came at the end and even offered to help me. As long as its not major damage you can drive car away after you exchange info.

  3. By most laws (in Australia don’t know if it applies in America) a tow truck must drop a car off where you say it if they don’t they are subject to multiple fines.

    Eg, you say to drop it “here” and they say “there” is better they aren’t legally allowed to say that. They need to two to “here” if not it could be a suspension of tow truck licence

  4. If a tow truck company/storage yard hijacks your car and overcharges you. Declare it stolen.

    They will give it back immediately because they can lose their company operation license.

  5. Ontario definately has different laws then we do in Alberta. I'm on a fire department and we have to wait sometimes up to an hour for a tow truck to arrive after called to a scene. I'd recommend to change the laws out there and try and get rid of those vultures out there.

  6. And the when you need one either they're "too far away and can't come to you" or they take forever and a day getting to you. I've seen the same thing happen for years where I live in Texas. When there's an accident, there's 5 to 8 tow trucks that swoop in like vultures, but when you need a tow, it usually takes 45 mins to an hour if you're lucky, before ONE tow truck to show up, then wants to charge you an insane amount. I'm glad I have triple A on my car insurance, so I don't have to pay for a tow.

  7. Dude you call that some super/ race car? It’s a Toyota gt86/ Scion FR-S/ Subaru BRZ worth not much and known to be very slow but light despite their look they are acctualy trash not tryna be toxic

  8. And I don’t know how it is there but most places here in the US you have to take them to civil court to get that money back

  9. I would no way let someone talk to me like that or Play those games with me holding my car I wouldn’t say too much but I’ll be like OK .. find out where they live and Trust that they would be regretting it

  10. Another thing I wouldn’t trust a company like that do the work on my car because after you argue with them who knows what they did to your car they could’ve messed with anything engine gas tank electrical who knows

  11. Immigrants used to be so different..everywhere seems to be having the same problem with them (some) they are greedy and as cheeky as hell. Send them home!

  12. Too bad these clowns make all the other tow truck drivers look like crooks. But keep in mind there is good tow truck drivers out there. Not all of them are god dam vultures

  13. Auto parts, Plumbers, electricians, roofers, window installers, hell, let's get into the Real Estate agents, interior decorators, painters, again, etc With everything becoming expensive and million dollar mortgages in Ontario, people are doing everything possible to make money because they all live beyond their means and ripping each other off!!!!

  14. And people now are getting so cocky now because they think they are the law and the world owes them something!! I think this "rights" thing has gone way over board! Should have slammed that tow truck driver kids in the back of the cruiser for backtalk!! Again disrespect!!!

  15. 6:18 the repairs are only supposed to take a month? For a car? You can build a thousand cars in a month!Even when I took my half totaled car to the dealership, it only took a few days. And this guy was just rear ended? Should’ve taken 6 hours tops. Heck, I’ve had an engine and transmission replacement done in a day. Is this how things work in Canada or something? Holy moly. You can repair an entire aircraft carrier in a month. W. T. F. How does anyone get anything done there? Are things that expensive in Canada? $15k-$20k in repairs? These cares aren’t even with half that. I had my car towed a few months ago for $100 and the repair was $120.

  16. Skip to last line if u don't wana read it.

    I just got tow tricked to signed a paper for work order because was midnight raining no lightning and i don't understand what the guy was saying and told me that was just a tow fees and ur insurance with cover it. The police (OPP) told me that to sit in the tow truck which leading me to a false information; because this is my first accident. After tow down off the highway they called car rental company and rented a vehicle 40 dollars per day(Can't brake properly and overdue maintenance have minus 2500KM millage and i havn't return the car yet but im going to do that tmr) . The tow truck driver and car rental guy they all told me that insurance company will pay all which isn't true. This is my first accident and i have no experience….the police just took off and gave me a careless driving ticket without any explanation or reason…..Now, my car are stuck with tow truck place which is a repair centre that have bad ratting….Remember ladies and guys, call CAA no matter u have membership will save u and ur car from these malformation creature that might scam u over 10K…. The law here have huge issue and those ppl know the law are helping these tow trucks, repair centre and car rental place because they got piece of meat from it.

    Even the insurance company itself have some corruption inside their own company. I called them asking about the progression on my car on September 13 which the accident happened at September 11 at 1 A.M. They said they have not sent anyone to look at the car yet. So i visit the repair centre which are also the tow truck place…on September 16 10A.M. because they are not open on Saturday and Sunday; and they told me that the insurance company already have someone came over and look at it on September 12; and they already ordered the parts. In my head i was like wut? i was gona come over and sign a release form….and now told me that my car going to stuck here and fix till settle? which will take like 2 months fix? or might not be repairable……
    OMG, what is wrong with this country…everybody just wana scam other poor ppl…even the insurance pay for it but my insurance will go sky rocket high 600 to 900 a month might be more….at the end of day money still came from me…
    I have been living here for over 10 years, i didn't see any positive side of ppl in doing their business in an legal way. Police just obey the law like a thoughtless robot, cold hearted roaming on the highway or street giving out tickets… Now, Im stuck with this tow truck place+ repair centre with no choice…to do the repair for my car which might take forever to repair from review on Google. And rental car + police ticket….

    ******Call CAA even u don't have membership or some1 u know and use their CAA and tow to ur house or somewhere safe. ***

    ******Do Not Listen To Police telling u to go with that tow truck***** *****************************

    ******U know why they tell u that******************************************************************

  17. I know this happens for a fact. Someone ran me off the road so I called for help and the tow truck was there first. He said my car was totaled – the whole frame was ruined. Cops came and let me go; they knew I wasn't drunk or under any drug influence. Yet somehow? My dad made a few fixes and my stepmother has been driving it personally, since I got a new car, for almost five years now. Such crap.

  18. Do they not have free towing with their insurance? Like do they not have this in place in USA, they do in my country. I got free towing like a month ago because of a breakdown

  19. just this weekend i received a tow from a tow truck due to hitting a pot hole and i had it towed to the dealership and later that day i received a call from my aunt saying cops found my car sitting outside the dealership and left my window all the way down and my doors UNLOCKED and the key in the gas can area

  20. The fines for tow trucks for being too close to an acvident scene are warnings mostly.When tickets are issued fines are too low. $190 dollars verses making $500 to $700 .Do the math.There should be a three strikes law. At the third time caught showing up with out being called to an accident. They should be charged $700 . All this bs they are doing raises our car insurance rates .Illegal kickbacks should risk licensing for tow truck drivers. They are lying to people and then their cars are being held for ransome.

  21. You tow truckies should think about how you would feel if this bs was happening to your mom or sister who has kids to feed. Shame on you. If that doesnt work JUDGEMENT DAY.

  22. The officer should ask the driver who they want it towed by, if need be. If the person doesnt specify in writing, the police should call a tow company from a list on rotation. No extra trucks in the way. Problem solved .

  23. Not all tow companies are like this, my family has had the longest wrecker service in our county & every single business of TTD are respectable & honest.

  24. The officer should have ticketed the tow that lied about working with them. He also should have stopped them. I also wish the dude didn't give them that check. I'm so upset.

  25. I went from a roast on Alec Baldwin by Caitlyn Jenner, to a video of Bruce Jenner hitting someone with a car, to now a news story on towing

    Oh time, how elusive you are

  26. Why doesn't the government step in to regulate tow truck companies more. I'm not even referring to laws enforced after an accident. I mean… how can a private tow truck company take your vehicle and decide to charge whatever they want. If you can't afford it they now own your vehicle. This shouldn't be the wild west. I think private tow companies should only exist if you personally call them because a vehicle broke down or something. I don't think they should tow your vehicle without your consent. If you are parked illegally or ran out of insurance and are parked on the street the city itself should tow it.

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