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Allegations Against Two Wrecker Firms Raises Eyebrows in Chattanooga

Towing company competition concept.

Allegations Against Two Wrecker Firms Raises Eyebrows in Chattanooga

Chattanooga was hit with startling news brought to light at the recent Wrecker Board meeting, primarily about two local towing companies charging exorbitant rates. The two implicated firms are American Tow and Recovery, located at 5910 Shaw Ave., and Chattanooga Impound Services on 2800 Rossville Blvd.

A Lack of Regulation

The recurring issue discussed at the meeting is the fact that the city of Chattanooga’s ordinance only regulates towing companies on its rotational list. The city uses these businesses to move vehicles on a recurring basis. This leaves businesses like Chattanooga Impound Services, which are not on the rotation, to operate under their own discretion. The problem is exacerbated as the owners of American Towing and Chattanooga Impound Services have personal relationships, resulting in an intertwining of businesses.

Outrageous Charges

Sergeant Jason Wood, a member of the Wrecker Board, brought to attention the outrageous charges enforced by these businesses. There have been instances seen where American Towing vehicles were used for Chattanooga Impound tows, and even cases where invoices were requested by Chattanooga Impound, yet the towed cars were stored in American Towing’s lots.

These practices come with dramatic charges for those retrieving their vehicles, especially from Chattanooga Impound, owing to its lack of regulation. Sergeant Wood recounted a shocking incident earlier this year where a bus load of individuals were required to take separate journeys to retrieve their cars from American Towing’s lot after they were moved there by Chattanooga Impound Services.

Case Study: Penske

Another case that came under the lens was a complaint by David Bagley, the branch service manager at Penske, a truck leasing company. His company had leased a truck to a team working for Erlanger Hospital, which was later towed by Chattanooga Impound Services because it was obstructing a loading dock.

The towing itself was deemed necessary, however, the issue arose when Penske was charged $2,000 for the retrieval of the truck. This was a substantial increase from the usual $400-$500 charged for local tows, according to Shannon Yates from Doug Yates Towing, the firm traditionally used by Penske.

Lack of Authority

The Wrecker Board highlighted the challenges posed by what Sgt. Jason Wood termed as ‘predatory towing’ practices where the unregulated towing companies could set arbitrary charges. This practice not only exploits vehicle owners, but also seriously tarnishes the reputation of the towing industry in Chattanooga.

Needed: Revised Ordinances

Assistant City Attorney Kathryn McDonald acknowledged the need for revision of the current ordinances. Since the Wrecker Board does not have direct power to change the regulations, it has been suggested that a recommendation be made to the Chattanooga City Council, who do hold the power. The onus now rests on the council to ensure that the towing industry, both on the city rotation list and beyond, operate under more stringent guidelines that protect the city’s residents.

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