How to avoid Indianapolis towing troubles

How to avoid Indianapolis towing troubles

A wintry blast propelled Brownsburg resident Rene Behrend’s van sideways down her friend’s steep driveway where it stopped partially hanging over a small ditch. With children to pick up from school shortly, the Angie’s List member called highly rated Marilyn’s Towing & Recovery of Brownsburg, Ind., for help.

Although the dispatcher first told her it might be hours before a truck arrived because of the many motorists stranded by weather that day, Behrend says a half-hour later the company owner called and routed a nearby truck to rescue her van.

“Not only was I impressed with how they worked me into their schedule, but also [the tow truck driver] had no room to work in — there was a ravine on the left and on the right of the drive — but he was skilled in how to hook it up without damaging my car,” says Behrend, who rated Marilyn’s with a positive grade.

Unlucky circumstances often prompt the need for auto towing, but companies that emphasize customer service and create honest expectations for their clients can make an annoying situation more bearable. Experts from local highly rated Indianapolis towing companies suggest motorists research their options before a slide-off, flat tire or dead battery leaves them stranded and desperate.

“I get people who call me and ask my hours of operation and basic questions like, ‘Can you handle my vehicle?’” says Steve Catlett, owner of highly rated Steve’s Towing in Indianapolis. “They actually put me in their phone book. If they do break down, they want somebody that they know is available and what they can do.”

When you call to schedule a tow, Catlett suggests asking for prices and if they have the appropriate truck for your vehicle. “If you call and don’t feel comfortable, politely hang up and tell them: ‘Nevermind,’” Catlett recommends.

Reasonable fees range from about $70 to $80 for a five-mile tow to a mechanic, he says. In nice weather and during low traffic times, expect to wait a half hour to an hour, but during snow storms or rush hour, the same tow could take up to four times as long. Professional companies will provide an honest arrival estimate upfront and may even suggest calling someone else for quicker service at peak times.

While the majority of towing reports in Indianapolis on Angie’s List describe positive experiences, 15 percent of reports detailed complaints involving long delays and poor customer service. Jennifer Martin of Indianapolis called poorly rated Interstate Towing to tow her mother’s car from her house to the tire store after the family noticed two flat tires while heading out for a day of shoppingand lunch on a holiday weekend.

Martin says the dispatcher initially gave her a one-hour estimate. But it took four hours and numerous calls before someone came to tow the vehicle. “They probably were busy, but if we knew upfront it could have been longer, it wouldn’t have been that big of a deal,” the Angie’s List member says. “We could have called somewhere else or just driven my car that day.” Interstate did not return messages seeking comment.

Greg Seiter, spokesman for the highly rated AAA Hoosier Motor Club, says joining a group like AAA helps avoid some headaches. Roadside emergency service and three miles of towing come with basic membership to AAA, which owns 35 service vehicles to cover the Indianapolis metro area and partners with contractors to service the rest of the state.

“We drug screen and run criminal background checks on our employees and independent contractors,” says Seiter, adding that they verify insurance. “Calling a random company for roadside help does not ensure those checks are in place.”

Martin, whose family ended up ordering pizza and missing some of their holiday shopping tradition, says she initially called Interstate because she recognized the name from seeing it on their trucks around town. She later saw them on the news after the city began investigating complaints related to their business towing from private parking lots.

“I probably should have called Angie’s List to find a company,” says Martin, who filed a negative report on Interstate. “It didn’t seem like it was going to be a big deal.”

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