General Angela B. Clyne  

Bewaring Cost Traps- Towing Vehicles

If the towing service has to be called because of a breakdown or incorrect parking, the costs for the vehicle owner are enormous. Those who inform themselves at an early stage can avoid unnecessary expenses.

Towing service – calculation of costs

The vehicle has a breakdown and must be taken to the nearest workshop. You may also have parked your car in a no-parking zone. Your car should now be towed away and taken to a place unknown to you. In both cases the Denver Towing service arrives. It transports your vehicle to the repair shop or to a parking space where nobody is bothered. So that the costs in this unpleasant situation remain manageable for you, you must know how the towing service calculates the expenses for its work.

In the past, the calculation of expenses has often been the cause of disputes between the car owner and the service provider. It is not unusual for a matter to be decided in court if the bill for the towing operation is disproportionately high. Even if positions were computed, which are difficult to comprehend or which were not at all executed, drivers inserted protest. Such processes are quite successful, because they are decided depending upon initial situation also in the interest of the vehicle owners. As a result, the costs for you are reduced by the legally binding judgement. However, this success often cannot be achieved without court proceedings.

Disproportionately high costs are prohibited

In the recent past, the Federal Supreme Court has shown the towing services the limits of their cost calculation through court rulings. Although their work must be adequately remunerated, neither the driver of a breakdown vehicle nor a parking offender may be punished by very high costs.

In technical jargon, it simply means that the services must not demand an unreasonably high amount from drivers. The cost of towing a wrongly parked car, for example, is not reasonable and is simply too high. One of the criteria for determining expenses is comparability within the region.

Costs must be regionally comparable

The towing service may not charge you a fee above the local average. It must therefore not differ disproportionately from the expenses of other providers in your city or the surrounding area. Any major deviation from the norm in your town and surrounding area will be considered disproportionate and inappropriate from a legal point of view. However, you must be aware that the costs for a towing service vary greatly from region to region. Even from city to city there are considerable differences.

The Auto Club Europe (ACE) has found out in a study that the costs for a towing service in Hamburg are very high in comparison with around 260 Euros. Hamburg thus occupies a leading position compared to other major German cities. In addition to the actual towing from Monday to Friday, the price also includes 24-hour custody and a city administration fee. Frankfurt am Main, at 257 euros, is only slightly cheaper. The investigation for Aachen showed a completely different result. There you have to reckon with around 134 euros in expenses for a towing operation.

The automobile club gives several reasons for the different high costs. On the one hand, they vary from service provider to service provider. On the other hand, it is also the cost calculation of the communities that leads to significant differences, especially in the case of illegal parkers. They charge quite different fees for the storage of a vehicle. The Association of Salvage and Towing Companies points out that the stall fee for a car varies. Of course, as a parking offender, you have no influence on where the towing company parks your vehicle. Nevertheless, you must expect higher costs if your car is temporarily parked in a hall than if it is parked in an open area.

Thus the time of day influences the costs

If you have to call the towing service between 4.30 p.m. and 8.00 p.m., you have to reckon with a surcharge of around 25 percent on the normal costs. At night, this surcharge is around 50 percent, and on a Sunday or holiday, the service is twice as expensive as during the week. These are at least the recommendations the Verband der Salungs- und Abschleppunternehmen gives its member companies. Of course, the companies themselves can decide whether to follow this advice. But for you as a customer this means that you have to reckon with the fact that a tow tour to the next workshop on Sunday is twice as expensive as on a Monday at lunchtime.

Since this is only a recommendation from the association, it can happen that a towing company charges you a surcharge for a service at night or on weekends, while a company in the next town works at the regular cost without a surcharge.

Full invoice amount from start of work

The time at which you arrive at your vehicle is also of great importance, especially for parking offenders. If you arrive while the towing service has not yet started its work, you can usually negotiate a reduction in the invoice amount. As a rule, it is possible to reduce expenses by 50 to 60 percent. However, if the towing service employees have already started to secure your vehicle, the costs will be incurred in full. Then it is usually no longer possible to agree a reduction in the invoice amount with the driver.

How to avoid cost traps

Once the accident has happened because your vehicle has been towed away, it is worth checking the bill. Obtain comparative offers from other local companies. Pay attention to the same time of day, the same route and the same vehicle. With the help of the second offer, you can easily get an overview of whether the dealer is charging an overpriced price for his service. Of course, you also have the same right if you have to commission a service for transport to the nearest garage.

If you don’t have time to compare several offers in advance because time is of the essence, you should compare the invoice. Ask for alternative proposals from one or two local companies. In this way you can determine whether your invoice is in the usual range or whether unnecessary surcharges have been calculated. If you have time to hire the towing service, you can even ask for several alternatives before awarding the contract. Then choose the supplier who guarantees the lowest costs.

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