Ask 13: Is there really a minimum tow charge from wreckers in the NCHP's rotation?
The North Carolina Highway Patrol often has to have vehicles towed off the highway. But are the companies they use charging fair prices?
One News 13 viewer thinks he was overcharged.
The question comes from a man whose wife's vehicle broke down on Boylston Highway. Her car had to be towed, and the bill was a bit pricey.
Arthur, from Brevard, said in a phone call to News 13 that the trooper wouldn't allow him to call his preferred wrecker. So, he was forced to get a tow from a wrecker called through the trooper's rotation.
Arthur said that's when the wrecker driver told him there was a $250 minimum charge for the tow. He said he was able to negotiate a lower price with the wrecker operator, but he wondered if there really was a minimum charge to be in the NCHP's rotation.
A check with a local wrecker sevice found a 5-mile tow typically costs $50-$75.
Highway Patrol spokesman Rico Stephens said wreckers allowed into the rotation have to meet strict standards.
"They have to insurance requirements, they have to be available for calls 24 hours a day, they have to respond in a timely fashion and manner and they have to pass somewhat of a background," he said.
Stephens said there is no minimum charge under North Carolina Administrative Code 14B, but there can be a maximum and it's set by the Highway Patrol district's first sergeant. The fees cannot exceed the wrecker service's charges for non-rotation service calls. The sergeant also approves all fees to make sure they're reasonable and consistent, according to the code, with fees charged by other wrecker services in the rotation.
If you have a problem with a wrecker service's fees, you may file a complaint with the Highway Patrol district's first sergeant, who manages and oversees all rotation wrecker services.
By law, each wrecker service is supposed to provide the vehicle owner with a list of approved wrecker and storage fees. But the law says these are maximum amounts allowed, and nothing in the law prevents them from charging less.
If you have a question you'd like answered, write to Ask13@WLOS.com.