PORTLAND, Ore. – Leah Brewer is a minivan driving, single mom of six and recently faced a charge she equated to "robbery" to get her car back after it was towed.
But now Oregon legislators may be finally reeling in towers' exorbitant rates as they consider a bill that would limit the amount tow companies could charge.
A few weekends ago, Brewer parked in a parking lot in Tualatin and three hours later she came back and found her minivan had been towed.
She didn't notice the sign saying, "Customer Parking Only While Actively Shopping" until after she came back and found her minivan gone.
It had been towed to a lot in Beaverton. She called the dispatcher.
"She said it will be $401 to pick it up," Brewer said. "And I said, 'You are kidding me.' And she said, 'No, I'm not.'"
So just how did the tow company come up with that dollar amount?
To dispatch the tow truck, the company charged $15. The hookup was $140. The dollies the driver used were $40. The truck's mileage was $54; its fuel was $12. To store Brewer's car was $80. The release fee was $40 and, finally, there was a photo fee of $20. But Brewer said the company couldn't even show her the photo.
"That's like meals for the month," Brewer said. "I mean, I can't afford that. I can't."
The bill being considered in Salem would limit tow charges to a maximum of $200 if the tow truck traveled less than 20 miles and no more than $30 a day after the first day for storage.
Brewer said anything more is highway robbery.
"That's robbery," she said. "To me, you're robbing people."
After some complaining, the tow company did agree to refund Brewer half the charge, which is rare.
House Bill 3159 is currently in committee in Salem.
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