By Web Team
INGLEWOOD, California (KCAL, KCBS) – An Inglewood woman claims her cars are being held hostage due to expensive storage fees charged by a body shop.
“How am I going to get $10,000 to get my car back and how am I going to fix it,” said Inglewood resident Michelle Davis.
Her ordeal began when the care of Davis and her daughter was interrupted by a fleeing suspect outside her Inglewood home.
“We heard a big crash and squealing tires,” she said.
Davis immediately called the police and within minutes a tow truck showed up to supposedly help him.
“I think he’s with the police,” she said. “I had an accident and the car is going to the police impound, that’s what I thought.”
However, the tow truck was not with the police. Instead, it took his daughter’s Honda to Airport Collision and Repair, with Davis following in his Range Rover. The body shop said their vehicle was not safe to drive.
“My muffler was against my gas tank and it was going to explode,” Davis said.
From that day both cars started accumulating all types of fees such as $110 for COVID cleaning fees, $140 for Hazmat fees, $275 for forklift fees, $200 for photos and $225 per day for storage – for each car.
“Fine on the high end,” said attorney Steven Simmons, who handles predatory towing cases. “The average in my experience is $100 to $150 max.”
In California, there is no cap on what private companies can charge for storage fees. Experts say consumers have very little protection against alleged predatory towing.
Simmons warns consumers to check things like a truck’s Department of Transportation number and online reviews.
“Very little protection except what they do for themselves,” Simmons said. “Before this car is hooked, check all these things.”
The Better Business Bureau gave Airport Collision an “F” rating and according to the Bureau of Automotive Repair, the body shop is currently on two-year probation for various charges, including fraud. On Yelp, they have two stars coupled with a slew of negative reviews from people who said the tow truck showed up without being called.
“A lot of tow trucks will watch the police scanners and they’ll hear a call that there’s an accident,” Simmons said. “And when they do that, they get out as fast as they can.
The Airport Collision owner said his store did nothing wrong and Davis signed all invoices given to him. They offered to waive almost half of the storage fees.
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