Tow truck company warned for misleading and unfair conduct (Specialized Tilt Tray and Towing Services Pty Ltd)
- Distressed consumers are being misled following accidents
- 55 complaints against Specialized Tilt Tray and Towing Services in 17 months
- Non-disclosure agreements may contain unfair contract terms
Consumer Protection is warning consumers about a tow truck company believed to be misleading consumers and then asking them to sign non-disclosure agreements to have their vehicle released from their holding yard.
Fifty-five complaints have been received by Consumer Protection since July 2022 about Specialized Tilt Tray and Towing Services Pty Ltd (Specialized Towing) located in Landsdale, Canning Vale and O’Connor.
Consumer Protection has previously engaged with Specialized Towing about their obligations under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). Many of the complaints received involve allegations of unconscionable conduct and misleading representations, which are both breaches of the ACL.
One consumer was provided an invoice for $500 for towing services and was then charged $2,000 to retrieve the vehicle from the holding yard. Another driver in an accident was falsely told their insurance company would pay for the cost of towing and then had to pay a $1,250 bill. In some instances, where Specialized Towing has had payment disputes with insurance providers, consumers have been refused the release of their vehicle. This can leave consumers and their insurers thousands of dollars out of pocket, and without a vehicle.
Specialized Towing provides non-disclosure agreements to some consumers and may not allow consumers to retrieve their vehicle until it is signed. They may also charge exorbitant ‘holding fees’ for each day the vehicle remains in their yard. The non-disclosure agreements may contain unfair contract terms, attempting to prevent consumers from contacting Consumer Protection.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection Trish Blake said the WA public needs to be aware of Specialized Towing’s unfair business practices.
“Their dominating behaviour is completely unfair and shows little or no regard to the rights of vulnerable consumers, or the law,” Ms Blake said.
“Specialized Towing use their position of power when first at the scene to mislead consumers into entering towing contracts, where the vehicle must be towed to a Specialized Towing facility so holding fees can be charged.
“Many consumers have complained about how difficult it is for them and their insurance companies to retrieve their vehicle that was towed to a Specialized Towing holding yard, which leads to higher holding fees. They are then told they can only retrieve their car once a non-disclosure agreement is signed.
“People in a car accident or breakdown situation need to know they have the right to say no to the first tow truck that arrives at the scene and should call their car insurer, who will advise what to do or send out their own tow truck company. Consumers also have the right to stipulate where the car is towed – they don’t have to agree for it be taken back to the towing company’s holding yard.”
Media Contact: Frankie Pennington, (08) 6552 9410 / 0429 078 791
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