Beware of Predatory Towing Companies

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Interstate Recovery & Towing shares tips for staying safe on holiday road trips.

Tips for making a safe road trip this holiday season.

With AAA or a towing service on your insurance, you can go with the companies they suggest, however a little effort on your part will help you sort through those options in advance and you will also know the process necessary when something happens.

If you’re planning to drive over the river and through the woods to visit grandma and grandpa this holiday season, you’re not alone. According to AAA projections, 94.5 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the year-end holiday season. They also project close to 3 million of these motorists will experience some sort of breakdown on the road. Interstate Recovery and Towing reminds motorists to plan ahead to keep their precious cargo safe on the road and ensure a happy holiday.

“In an ideal world, we would plan ahead for all inevitable problems like needing roadside assistance or towing,” said Randy Jensen, owner of Interstate Recovery & Towing. “However, on the off chance that you have not purchased a AAA membership, or your car insurance does not provide road side assistance, here are a few tips that might help you when your vehicle decides to take an unplanned stop.”

Thanks to the Internet, it is harder for the predatory towing companies to get away with those bad practices for long because once they hurt enough people, the wave of bad reviews and comments on the web force them to change their business name or go out of business.

The problem still remains that towing companies are notorious for having many business names and numbers so that when one gets too much bad press, they just abandon that one and start up a new one. This practice also allows them to get more listings on a search engine because they are seen as being different businesses.

The easiest way to verify if the business is the real company name, just look at the Corporation Commission for the state that the company is in. If it doesn’t exist, then they are using a DBA “doing business as” or they are not registered with the state.
Once their legitimacy is confirmed, see how long they have been in business. Longer is better. Avoid companies that are less than 12 months old. From there, check various sources for bad reviews.

By doing a Google search for “reviews and the company name”, a few usable results should pop up to begin your due diligence. Sometimes you will see a page from The Ripoff Report. This particular company makes their money from charging companies a monthly fee to keep the bad reports from showing up. So, it is not always a reliable source to gather information. Just like the BBB will charge a company to clean up their bad reviews and give them an A+ rating.

“That said, our usual recommendation is to looking up a business across a few platforms, such as Yelp, Google and Facebook, to find more reputable reviews on those companies,” explains Jensen.
Yelp reviews tend to show up in multiple places. Many times, they populate on Apple maps, Bing, Yahoo and several other places. Because of the way Yelp filters reviews, it is easy to get bad reviews to show up, and hard to get good ones. So, if you see a lot of unhappy customers, it might be a good idea to look elsewhere.

Angie’s list is known for having reputable reviews that cannot be tampered with, however it is rare to find a review for a towing company on this website. But, if you do, it is probably legit.

Reviews can also be found on Facebook and Google business pages. Some people review to the Google business page as Google maps. All of these places will not allow the owner to remove bad reviews. The more reviews you find, the more likely it is that they are real.

To expand your search, turn to Yellow pages, Super pages, City Search and many other business listing sites. However, those pages are not as strict on validating the source of its reviews.

“I admit that doing all of this may difficult to do on the side of the road with just a cell phone when all you really want is to get out of that situation as quick as possible,” said Jensen. “It’s better to be prepared, do you research and have the names and numbers of a few reputable companies in your contacts before you set out on your trip. Be sure to check that they cover the routes you plan to take.”

It is always a good idea to shop for a towing company in the town that you live to start and ask them for referrals for companies along your route. As with anything, it’s better to make important decisions when you are not under pressure or stressed out. Many times a breakdown can be highly stressful with traffic rushing by, bad weather and being late for your destination.

The towing industry has more than its fair share of disreputable companies and many horror stories of how someone has been taken advantage of. This can result in hundreds of dollars spent unnecessarily. Not to mention the inconvenience of getting your car back in a timely manner.

“With AAA or a Towing Service on your insurance, you can go with the companies they suggest, however a little effort on your part will help you sort through those options in advance and you will also know the process necessary when something happens,” explains Jensen. “This will be even more important for members of your family that are not fully aware of the necessary processes to use the insurance or AAA services that you have paid for.”

Tips for planning ahead and staying safe on your holiday road trip:
1.    Get the list of approved vendors from AAA or your insurance if you have that.
2.    Search Google for a list of companies.
3.    Select towing companies that offer service 24 hours a day.
4.    Make sure they are Licensed, Bonded and Insured.
5.    Check the Corporation Commission for your State to make sure the company you are thinking about using is actually registered with the State.
6.    Make sure you know where their towing yard is located. This is where you will need to pick up your vehicle.
7.    Have them disclose a full break down of their charges. This includes: hook up, travel, time of day differential, miles, additional towing fees, storage fees, lot fees, etc. There is a large list of fees, and you need to know them all.
8.    Check out their reviews. This is explained above.
9.    Ask people you know if they have had any towing experiences, good or bad.
10.    Pick two companies that you think are the best. Even a good company can be unavailable at times if they have an unexpected rush for their services. In this case you have a back up.
Although this type of preparation takes time, the amount of money and time it will save in the long run will be well worth your efforts for you and your loved ones.

About Interstate Recovery & Towing:
As a third generation family owned & operated business, Interstate Recovery & Towing has been serving the Greater Four Corners Area with a specialized variety of towing and recovery services for over 30 years. We are the only full-service towing company in Farmington, NM, as well as the four corners area. No job is too big or too small for us to handle. With a fleet of trucks specialized for any type of job, from accident recovery to heavy hauling like buses and motor homes, we can haul it all. To learn more about our services, please visit our website at or calling us at (505) 564-2287.

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Natalie Beck