Driven to de­spair by ‘thiev­ing’ tow­ing com­pany

The Star Early Edition - - GO ASK GEORGIE! - Jan­ice Atkins

I WAS in­volved in a car crash in the early hours and was in such a state I agreed to let a tow truck driver at the scene tow my car, in­stead of a truck driver from the tow­ing ser­vice ap­proved by my in­sur­ance com­pany.

I could not find the 24-hour emer­gency as­sis­tance num­ber and just wanted to get home.

I knew I would have to pay to have my ve­hi­cle towed and two days’ stor­age un­til my in­sur­ance com­pany ar­ranged col­lec­tion of my ve­hi­cle.

When I called my in­sur­ance com­pany, it told me the com­pany I al­lowed to tow my ve­hi­cle was ask­ing R11 500 to re­lease it.

I am out­raged. Is this “nor­mal”? What jus­ti­fies that amount?

The in­voice reads: sal­vage: R4 350, roll-back: R1 500, re­cov­ery: R1 500, stor­age: R1 750, se­cu­rity: R650 and ad­min: R900. To tow my ve­hi­cle to my in­sur­ance com­pany a fur­ther R850. These amounts blow my mind.

My in­sur­ance com­pany needs my car to as­sess the dam­age, but these sharks won’t re­lease it un­til the amount is paid in full.

My in­sur­ance com­pany says if it has to pay for it, I will have to re­pay the money. I can’t un­der­stand how the tow­ing com­pany can get away with this. What can I do? I es­caped with my life, but now have an ex­or­bi­tant amount to pay be­cause a drunk driver went through a red light and smashed into my car.

The crash oc­curred at the in­ter­sec­tion of Porter­field Road and the R27 in Blou­bergstrand and my ve­hi­cle was towed to Gie Road in Cape Town – about 4km.

R11 500 for this. No way. I am not the only per­son to fall vic­tim to the thiev­ing of tow­ing com­pa­nies. I’ve just learnt that sal­vage means re­cov­er­ing a car out of a ditch, but my car was on level ground.

Re­cov­ery is the same thing. Roll-back is when the ve­hi­cle is put on a flat bed.

I watched my ve­hi­cle be­ing towed. How can they charge for ser­vices that were not ren­dered?

Ap­par­ently this com­pany has been in­volved in a few le­gal dis­putes.

Ge­orgie: Atkins ap­proached the po­lice for as­sis­tance to re­cover her car, but was told she would need an in­ter­dict. The tow truck driver acted il­le­gally – the costs were not dis­closed and the com­pany is ef­fec­tively hold­ing her car to ran­som.

To my mind, this is crim­i­nal and the po­lice should be in­ter­ven­ing.

I asked the Na­tional Con­sumer Com­mis­sion for as­sis­tance in the mat­ter, but it had not re­sponded by my dead­line, de­spite prom­ises to do so.

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