Proposed bills target predatory towing in North Carolina

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — North Carolina representatives have introduced a bill that would look to tackle predatory towing and problematic booting practices, which have racked up complaints for years.

House Bill 1024, which has large support from area representatives, would see the creation of a commission that would set standards, maximum fees, and review complaints.

Over the past five years, Queen City News has covered several of the 627 complaints filed by customers with the state’s Attorney General’s office.

Drivers of town trucks reported their vehicles were booted while they were inside the vehicle, and they were forced to pay hundreds to thousands to get their trucks and cargo back.

“One trucking company…reported $15,000,” explained Mecklenburg County Representative Laura Budd.

She supports the bill and called acts like this, “extortion.”

The representative also stressed, “Most people who are engaged in the towing business there, their small businesses, they’re good companies run by good people just earning a living.  And then you have your bad apples or your bad actors, and they are the ones who are essentially creating the problems that now necessitate the need for a regulatory framework.”

When Queen City News contacted the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office to follow up on one of the predatory towing complaints, we were told, “Currently, there is no statutory cap on the price they can charge as long as it is clearly stated on the sign.”

The commission would look at a set fee towing companies would charge for the tow, and limit the cost companies charge customers for storage.

It would also limit fees if customers use credit cards to make the payments.

Rep. Budd explained how the two processes of a passenger vehicle would work under the proposal.

She said tow drivers would, “log into the database that will be set up and you put in their name and their permit number, the purpose of the tow, who authorized the tow . . . the purpose . . . then the amount they’re going to charge for the tow.”

The bill would make it illegal for towing companies to boot tow trucks under any circumstances, and make it illegal to boot or tow vehicles with occupants in them.

The commission would include members from the organization Towing and Recovery Professionals of North Carolina.

In a statement to Queen City News, they stressed:

“We deeply appreciate the bill sponsors’ interest in promoting industry best practices and advancing policies that positively impact both the Towing and Recovery Professionals of North Carolina and the citizens we serve. Embracing the opportunity to collaborate with policymakers for optimal outcomes is a privilege we deeply value, and we extend our heartfelt appreciation to the bill sponsors for their steadfast commitment to this collaboration. At the core of TRPNC’s mission is the promotion of industry excellence, a commitment we are dedicated to upholding. With our longstanding history of working closely with policymakers for this purpose, we look forward to continuing that collaboration this session and in the years to come.”

Anna Harden

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