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In Denver & Boulder, Colorado

Buyers Tips

Towing Companies

Colorado towing companies are regulated by, and required to have a permit from the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The PUC enforces towing carrier rules and continues to improve these rules based on complaints filed with their office and the BBB. In any tow situation consider the following BBB advice:

To avoid being towed:

* Do not park in lots and then walk to another location. Many tow companies have agreements with various businesses to monitor the business parking lot. When a person parks in the lot and then leaves the property to go to another location, the towing company "spotter" (who is usually parked in the lot or is driving from one to another) calls the tow truck operator who immediately comes to the location and quickly hooks up the vehicle and leaves. They can do this in less than a minute.

* Look for signage. Ethically, lot owners should post clear signage about rules and tow information. The PUC is proposing new rules requiring this statewide, and the City and County of Denver already requires it for private lots open to the public. Those do not include lots such as businesses or apartment complexes where only customers or residents are allowed to park. Those are considered "not open to the public."

Consumers who have their vehicle towed should consider the following BBB tips:

* Contact the towing company immediately. The company's contact information should be displayed on a sign in the area where you parked. Retrieve your car as quickly as possible because many towing companies include a storage fee based on the amount of time a vehicle remains in their facility.

* Inspect your vehicle before leaving. Make sure there is no damage from the tow and any items you had in the vehicle are accounted for. Take pictures for proof in case you need to fill out an incident report.

* Ask for a detailed invoice. All fees rendered for towing and storing your vehicle should be itemized in writing. Review them carefully and ask for clarification before you pay. Towing carriers cannot say they only take cash. They are required by the PUC to accept Visa and MasterCard.

* File a complaint with the BBB and PUC if you feel your car was towed illegally, or the company is in violation of PUC rules.

Drop Charge

* If you see that your vehicle is being approached by a tow company, whether or not it's hooked up yet, the tow company is required to inform you of their "drop charge" which is set by the PUC at $70. However, in Denver Municipal Code limits this charge to $15. If you are willing to pay this charge, the towing carrier must accept your payment, either in cash or credit card and release your vehicle to you.

In addition to the tips above, the BBB recommends consumers who are in need of towing services:

* Contact roadside assistance. Many vehicles and car insurance policies come with roadside assistance. Even if the towing services are not completely free, odds are the towing company will be one you can trust.

* Contact the BBB. If you don't have roadside assistance, call the BBB at 303.758.2100 or visit www.denver.bbb.org on your smart phone to find a BBB Accredited towing company in your area.

* Ask to see proof the company is licensed. All towing companies must have a permit with the Colorado PUC.

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