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Tips to avoid tow truck rip-offs in the snow

From Angie’s List


Slide-offs are common during heavy snowfall. The majority of towing calls during a heavy snow will be pulling cars out of ditches. Some shady tow truck drivers may try to profit from your misfortune. Here’s how to avoid towing disasters:

1.    Reputation matters: Do a little research before the snow flies. Ask if the company accepts credit card payments. Some may require cash. Add the numbers of a couple of reputable towing services to your cell phone so you have good help literally at your fingertips.

2.    Don’t call me; I’ll call you: Beware the truck driver who shows up unannounced in an unmarked vehicle offering to drag your car out of the ditch. Reputable towing companies will display their Department of Transportation certification number on their tow truck. That certification indicates the company is insured and certified for the job. Should something go even more wrong, you’re covered.

3.    Fair weather pricing: You shouldn’t have to pay a surcharge because it’s cold. If your vehicle is in a really tricky spot and will require a lot of extra work or time, expect that cost to grow. Get a cost estimate upfront before you arrange for the driver to come to you, and if the estimate seems out of whack from the average, call another company.

4.    Oh Snap! If you have a smart phone, take a picture of your car before the driver gets there so you can have a record of what it looked like before and after the work.

5.    Sign off: When you sign off on the job, make sure your signature is right below the dollar amount you’re to be charged to minimize the chances that additional charges will be added in there without your knowledge.

6.    Document: Once the job is done, insist on both an invoice and a copy of your receipt to ensure you’re billed for authorized charges only.

7.    Already covered? Check your auto insurance to determine if you’re paying for roadside assistance and the process you follow. If you belong to a third party assistance organization, be sure you understand your coverage.

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