COLORADO SPRINGS — Having your car towed is a rare experience for most people, but when it happens the results in Colorado have proven to be costly and even life changing if people can’t afford to get their car back.
For years car owners in southern Colorado have complained to News5 that they’ve felt targeted by towing companies, sharing experiences where their cars were removed for minor violations and in some cases for no reason at all.
Now, a new state law set to go into effect next month offers new protections to help consumers fight back.
”I woke up around 2:30 in the morning to get my work equipment and my truck was gone.”
”I woke up to go to work and I noticed my car was gone.”
”You say it’s not worth it and you abandon it, and then what? You’re on the bus?”
Stories from Colorado consumers about bad experiences with towing companies have poured in one after another just since the start of the year, but Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser says predatory towing practices have gone on for far longer than that.
“What has happened in Colorado is egregious. There weren’t any limits on how much money was being charged for towing. There weren’t any protections against consumers finding themselves in a trap for those unaware that this could happen,” said Weiser.
Colorado lawmakers are hopeful a new towing bill of rights signed into law by the governor will change this dynamic.
”Consumers all too often have just written a check, or paid with a credit card thinking this is wrong and they went on with life. No more. You have protections,” said Weiser.
Here are some of the biggest changes with the towing bill of rights in Colorado:
Tow yards will have to return your car if you’re able to pay 15% of the fees, capped at $60.
(The vehicle owner will still have to pay off the rest, but will not be required to do so immediately to get their car back.)
- Towers must now give 24 hours notice before removing a car from an apartment parking lot or mobile home park.
- Towers can’t remove cars due to expired plates, unless ordered by police.
- Colorado Attorney General and the Public Utilities Commission will have greater oversight over towing companies that violate the law.
”It makes me happy that they’re finally cracking down on the towing companies because it’s been very frustrating,” said Pueblo Resident Elise Eccher.
The attorney general would be empowered to prosecute violators under the deceptive trade practice statute, so it’s important to report any towing companies you believe are violating consumer rights.
”So please spread the word and if you hear about friends or others being subject to these predatory practices tell us about it,” said Weiser.
While this towing bill was signed into law last month, the changes will not go into effect until August 10th.
In the meantime, you can find the full read-out on this towing bill of rights that you can keep handy if you need it. Plus, there are ways to report issues with towing companies. You can find all of that information at https://puc.colorado.gov/towing
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