The Wisconsin-based hauler got a big surprise because of charge for “just a simple tow”. One of his trucks stuck in a ditch on I-64 in central Virginia. A removal and towing bill were $202,000.
“We all fell off our chairs,” said Eric Van Handel, the president of Kaukauna, Wis.-based Midwest Carriers, when he saw the bill. According to him, towing is quite common and costs cheaper.
Jennifer Wieroniey, executive director of American Trucking Associations’ National Accounting & Finance Council, called the cost outrageously expensive. The NAFC is collecting information from its members on predatory towing billing. The NAFC also plans to seek legislation to stop the unscrupulous practice.
Bumpass Towing Bumpass, the company that handled the job, disputed this claim. The employee said the truck was damaged and that its load had spilled.
A report by Goochland County Fire-Rescue did not mention a food spill, but said “approximately 25-50 gallons of diesel fuel had already spilled in the ditch line, and there was an active diesel leak from the truck saddle fuel tanks carrying approximately another 165 gallons of fuel.”
Van Handel said Bumpass was called by a police officer at the scene. “We didn’t have the option,” Van Handel said. “It was called for us.”
“It was a single-vehicle accident,” Van Handel said. “It was a situation with our driver. The truck had turned over.”
He added, “As far as I remember, all of the freight was still inside the trailer. They basically had to get the truck turned upright. It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. I would have guessed it would have been a $20,000 or $30,000 bill.”
“That, unfortunately, is the wild, wild west situation we have here in Virginia,” said Dale Bennett, president of the Virginia Trucking Association. “Companies are called out to perform a tow, and they present whatever invoices they want to — without any regulation on the price or oversight on the price they charge.”
Bennett added, “The only recourse the vehicle owner has is to go to court.”