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Tow truck troubles: How to protect yourself

News 6 gets results after viewer says her car damaged by a tow truck comp

Most of us have been there,-- your car won’t start or you’ve been in an accident and you need a tow truck.  But imagine then the tow truck comes takes your car-- damages it and won’t pay for it. 

That’s exactly what happened to one local woman.

[WEB EXTRA: Link to list of accredited businesses that provide towing services ]

“I told him, ‘I’m hearing a scraping sound, I don’t quite know what it is, but I’m having a feeling it’s my car scraping the pavement,’” said Lisorie Murray.

Murray’s car wouldn’t start, so she called the roadside assistance number on her Three For One protection plan.  The dispatcher took the call, and after waiting three hours Metro Towing finally arrived-- but without a flatbed.

“I told him, ‘I don’t want my car pulled because you can damage my car because it’s already low to the ground.’ He said, ‘Ma’am, I have towed many cars and I have not damaged any.’”

But this time, there was significant damage, according to the dealership that inspected the car after the tow.

A cracked front bumper and an undercarriage shield had to be replaced-- nearly a thousand dollars worth of damage.

Murray tried to contact Metro Towing but they never responded. 

News 6 Investigator Eryka Washington did some digging. She found Metro Towing used to be located in Jacksonville, but recently opened up shop here in Orlando.

There is no signage on the building nor do they have a tax business number.

And this isn’t the first car that an owner claims they’ve damaged.

The owner of a Kia posted pictures online. She told Washington Metro Towing didn’t strap the back wheels correctly on her car and it fell off the tow truck, totaling her car.  She said they wouldn’t return any of her calls either.

“I contacted BBB in Jacksonville and indeed they have an F rating for failure to respond to complaints,” said Holly Salmons, with the Better Business Bureau.

News 6 went to Metro Towing’s garage to get answers. Washington asked if this is how they conduct business, but she was told to leave.

Wendy Wallace of Tri County Towing said mistakes may happen, but it’s how you handle it.

“As a company, as a business, you caused the damage, you should take responsibility for it.  It really makes it bad for all of us who do take measures to own up to the mistakes that we make. Fix the cars as quickly as possible or pay for the insurance to fix it,” said Wallace.

Hooking up a tow isn’t as easy as you may think.  Wallace’s tow truck drivers attend training and take courses for certification.

But if you call roadside assistance how can you be sure the company towing your car is reputable?

“You don’t make the decision as to who comes and picks up your vehicle. In that situation you just have to trust in your roadside provider, ” said Salmons.

Salmons said that’s why feedback is important.

“Unless you speak up, they may never know and that company may continue to receive that contract when they don’t really deserve it,” said Salmons.

If you think your car is damaged here is what you should do:
1. Document the name of the company that picked you up
2. Get the driver's name
3. Take pictures
4. Get them to sign the receipt acknowledging the damage

Murray paid out of pocket to repair her car.

“I think it’s unreal that you would have businesses that would do damage to people’s car and take no responsibility for their actions and I feel they should not be in business,” said Murray.

Towing vehicles is not a regulated field; you don’t have to be licensed by the state. That means anyone can tow a car.  So it’s important you do your research on towing companies before allowing your car to be hooked up.