Many drivers who became stranded during January's winter storm are still issuing complaints about the high cost of fees related to unsolicited towing. Hundreds of drivers were forced to make the tough decision of abandoning their vehicles during that snow storm almost three weeks ago. Some of those drivers came back to find their car had been towed away at the request of local officials.
Heather Lofthus and Kim Quick remember being stuck in the gridlock in Shelby County on Highway 41. The two women met when their vehicles collided.
According to Kim, "The parking brake was on and it rolled into the back of her car. There wasn't any damage."
They got a ride home but had to their leave cars. At the time it sounded like a good idea since someone offered to move them.
"He said, ‘Give us your keys. We will make sure ambulance drivers move them out of the way.'", Heather remembered.
Unfortunately, that didn't happen. The vehicles were towed and the bill was $350.
"We almost fell out. I believe I was crying," said Heather.
After their interview with Fox6 on Your Side reporter Ronda Robinson, Heather and Kim told her they no longer had to pay that bill. They did not want to disclose details about this resolution. Meanwhile, our Fox6 Call for Action office got similar high towing fee complaints from Leeds, Tarrant, Hoover, Pelham and many surrounding areas. The charges were different depending on the area.
Ronda reached out to Governor Bentley's office and even shared some viewer complaints with a spokesperson. So far, the office has not issued a response.
Attorney Ken Riley says the law does not fall on the side of stranded drivers.
"When vehicles block the roadway, vehicles may be moved out of the roadway or towed at the owner's expense," said Riley. "There is currently no state law which regulates tow service charges."
Some cities have taken action to prevent fee gouging. Birmingham, for example, only allows companies to charge a maximum of $160 for police directed or non-consensual towing of small vehicles. If you think you have been a victim of price gouging, contact the Attorney General's office at 1-800-392-5658 or look for the consumer division at www.ago.alabama.gov.
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