$6,000 towing bill leads to calls for regulation

An industry insider fed up with rising costs to have a vehicle towed in Ottawa is calling for price regulations.

Shawn Jamieson, a collision repair expert, is speaking out after receiving multiple invoices last month that each amounted to more than $1000 – including one for $6,000.

“I would just like to see something that is standardized across the board, a specific sort of price they need to adhere to so there is no price gouging,” Jamieson said.

In January, new rules for tow and storage services providers in Ontario came into effect. The regulations state that before an operator provides a service they need to obtain permission from the driver, or someone acting on behalf of the driver, as well as disclose their rates, and have the customer sign off.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services told CTV News “government is not considering further changes at this time, including regulating prices by setting rates or capping fees,” said Victoria Stacey.

Officials with the Tow Truck Association in Ontario said the price capping is not necessary as long as the current rules are enforced. Joey Gagne, association president, said part of the solution is letting consumers know their rights.

“I do a service, I have to provide you with an invoice, I have to tell you what I’m going to charge you, and I have to get you to sign off on those charges,” Gagne said.

Gagne said an average bill should range from a few hundred dollars to $1,000 or higher, depending on circumstances.  After reviewing the $6,000 submitted to an Ottawa driver, Gagne said the bill would not pass inspection.

“The details of the invoice are sketchy, it included storage and other fees but it didn’t explain what they were for… it wasn’t clear and it’s a bill I wouldn’t pay,” he added.

In Ottawa it is unlawful to solicit or offer towing services at a collision scene. This means a driver not only has the right to decline a tow truck operator at the scene, but can inform the police officer investing the collision. Gagne suggest phoning an insurance company before accepting any services to ensure the tow truck operator is reliable.

“Absolutely there are honest drivers and operation in this city, but there are a bunch giving people a bad name, but there are good people, we would like to see more,” Jamieson added.

More information on industry regulations in Ontario is available here.