Tips to avoid tow truck rip-offs in the snow
Extricating your car in snowy or icy conditions can sometimes prove tricky. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member Deborah S. of Laconia, N.H.)
Slide-offs are common during heavy snowfall, and the majority of towing company calls during a heavy snow involve pulling cars out of ditches.
Some shady tow truck drivers may try to profit from your misfortune, so here’s how to avoid towing disasters:
Do a little research before the snow flies. Check Angie's List to find towing companies in your area and read other members' experiences with them. Add the numbers of a couple of reputable towing services to your cell phone so that you have good help literally at your fingertips.
Ask if the company accepts credit card payments. Some may require cash.
Don’t call me, I’ll call you
Beware the truck driver who shows up unannounced in an unmarked vehicle offering to drag your car out of the ditch.
Reputable towing companies will display their Department of Transportation certification number on their tow truck. That certification indicates the company is insured and certified for the job. Should something go even more wrong, you’re covered.
Fair weather pricing
You shouldn’t have to pay a surcharge because it’s cold. If your vehicle is in a really tricky spot and will require a lot of extra work or time, expect that cost to grow.
Get a cost estimate upfront before you arrange for the driver to come to you, and if the estimate seems out of whack from the average, call another company.
If you have a smart phone or camera, take a picture of your car before the driver gets there so you can have a record of what it looked like before and after the work.
When you sign off on the job, make sure your signature is right below the dollar amount you’re to be charged to minimize the chances that additional charges will be added in there without your knowledge.
Once the job is done, insist on both an invoice and a copy of your receipt to ensure you’re billed for authorized charges only.
Check your auto insurance to determine if you’re paying for roadside assistance and the process you follow. If you belong to a third party assistance organization, be sure you understand your coverage.