Beating the tow truck saves the fee
Can you let people know there is a new law that says a towing company cannot tow your car or charge you if you arrived before the car is towed? My daughter's car was towed, even though she arrived before it left. We were charged $245 to get it out, including $25 for storage, even though it was in the lot only a few minutes. I've already filed a complaint with the state Office of Consumer Protection, but I am still so mad.
Answer: Beginning July 1, towing companies no longer can charge an unhooking fee if a driver shows up before a vehicle is towed away.
Previously, they could charge a $50 unhooking fee.
Also eliminated was a $15 overtime fee, which previously could be assessed if the tow took place between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. Monday through Thursday or from 6 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Monday.
Section 290-11 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes now says, "If the vehicle is in the process of being hooked up to the tow truck and the owner appears on the scene before the vehicle has been moved by the tow truck, the towing company shall unhook the vehicle."
"We're taking the position that if a car has not been moved, then a tow has not occurred and a consumer shouldn't be charged anything," said Stephen Levins, executive director of the state Office of Consumer Protection.
Regarding storage fees, Levins said if a vehicle is in a company's lot for only a few minutes, that would be considered a "fraction of a day" and thus subject to the fee.
Complaints about towing companies can be filed with his office. Call 587-3222 or go to www.hawaii.gov/dcca/ areas/ocp.
Meanwhile, towing companies were allowed to increase their fees beginning July 1 to $65 for a tow, or $75 if a dolly is used; $7.50 per mile towed; and $25 per day, or fraction of a day, for the first seven days of storage, and $20 for each additional day after that.
If the tow involves a "difficult hookup," meaning an above- or below-ground hookup in a multilevel facility, a $30 towing surcharge can be added.
Previously, towing companies could charge $55 for a tow ($65 using a dolly), $6.50 per mile towed and $20 a day storage for the first seven days and $15 a day thereafter.
To employees at Central Pacific Bank in Makiki and Ms. Hirata and her daughter, who came to the aid of my 90-year-old father on Nov. 7. He was walking to the bank with a heavy bag of coins when he fell, scraping both palms badly and bleeding profusely. No one stopped to help except the Hiratas, who were driving by on Keeaumoku Street. Ms. Hirata tended to his injuries, not caring that blood was getting on her clothes. Hope and other bank employees went out of their way to locate my mother, waiting in the car parked a few blocks away. They even moved the car to the bank's parking lot and took care of my parents. They really know how to take care of their customers! -- C. Mishina
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