WJTV News Channel 12 - RALEIGH: AG Cooper warns against price gouging

AG Cooper warns against price gouging

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Lynn Road in Raleigh on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014. (Melissa Marin, Contributed) Lynn Road in Raleigh on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014. (Melissa Marin, Contributed)
RALEIGH, N.C. -

Towing companies had their hands full because of the winter storm, fielding back to back calls to tow cars and trucks all over the state. But are some of them price gouging?

The Attorney General's office believes so, saying it is fielding complaints of companies charging up to $400.

Thousands can relate to Donald William's story after he reluctantly abandoned his car in Raleigh and made his way home through the kindness of strangers.

"I couldn't make it up a particular hill on Poole's Road, so I had to leave my car aside," Williams said. "When I came back the following day, my car was gone."

It turns out his car was towed by Alan's Towing, and the company charged him $260. His car was half a mile down the road from their facilities. Williams believed, they were price gouging.

The owner of Alan's Towing, Rob Snead, said that's the standard rate.

"No, we were not price gouging whatsoever. We were going by a certain rate," Snead said. "It takes three times as long to do the tows. We're having to drive five to 10 miles an hour, we're having to put chains in the trucks to get there -- slipping and sliding just like everybody else. The Highway Patrol called us and asked to remove his car."

Earlier in the week, Gov. Pat McCrory promised that cars would not be towed as long as they were not impeding traffic.

"The vehicles that have been abandoned are being left in place unless they are blocking the road," McCrory said.

When WNCN asked Williams if his car was in the way, he said, "It was on the road, but I moved my car as far as possible to the edge of the road because it's only a two-lane highway."

Snead said that was not the case.

"He left his car in the middle of the road in front of a dangerous place," Snead said. "The plows couldn't come through. Whether it's spring, winter, rain or fall, we go out and work for the Highway Patrol, and that was the rate he was charged."

Snead said he charges $225 as the base rate, and an extra $35 for each day the car remains at the company.

The Attorney General's office said normal towing rates should be closer to $100 to $150, but Alan's Towing said its fixed prices have been submitted officially to the State Highway Patrol and is its standard rate, whether there's a storm or not.

If you feel like you were unfairly charged, you can file a complaint with the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division here: www.ncdoj.gov or call 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free within North Carolina.

Eileen Park

Eileen joined WNCN after years of working as a foreign correspondent. During her time off, she enjoys relaxing with her dogs, reading, and exploring the Triangle. More>>

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