CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s bad enough to get in a car wreck, and then there are costs for cleanup – how about $9,000 owed just to a Chicago tow yard?
It is the highest towing bill that leaders at a Chicago car rental company say they have ever seen. CBS 2’s Lauren Victory on Monday tried to track down an explanation, and shared what city politicians are doing to prevent outrageous towing bills in the future.
“They just overcharge for everything,” said Henrich Bari.
“That’s the most ridiculous price I’ve ever seen,” said Ramy El-Batrawi.
Bari and El-Batrawi are in sunny California, fighting what they call a shady situation back in Chicago.
“I was just – I was just blown away,” Bari said.
They run a car rental service for rideshare drivers that operates in Chicago and around the country. Accidents happen and are part of the budget.
“We get maybe one or two totals every week all over the country and they’re usually anywhere from $400-$600 at most,” El-Batrawi said.
So you can imagine why the $8,675 towing charge they were socked with in Chicago did not sit right.
“This was the most outrageous bill we’ve ever seen,” El-Batrawi said.
The multi-thousand-dollar-charging tow lot where it all went down is swampy, overgrown, and empty. Vehicles are apparently kept locked up inside a building.
A citywide recovery driver who answered the phone there said the company never charges that much, despite the bill to Bari and El-Batrawi with which CBS 2 was presented.
Victory asked the recovery driver if he knew the car she was talking about. He said he did, and sent over a receipt on the same letterhead, in the same format, referencing the same vehicle, but for $5,000 less at $3,495.
He also told CBS 2 he only handwrites his bills, so what is with the typed-out $3,000 that appears on the bill to Bari and El-Batrawi’s firm? The charges don’t even add up to $8,675.
And why are there two different receipts for the same vehicle? The recovery driver texted that he didn’t know.
It’s possible that’s true. A scrapyard and another towing company were involved in the handling of the car and the paperwork.
Did something slippery happen here?
Victory: “Does it make you not want to do business in Chicago?”
El-Batrawi: “It does worry me, because you’re at the mercy, and accident rates are the highest in the nation?”
Past stories by the CBS 2 Investigators finally drove the City Council to take action a few weeks ago. They are considering holding a hearing to determine the extent of the predatory towing epidemic in Chicago.
The owner of Rideshare Rentals said he had no choice but to shell out the nearly $9,000.
The wrecked car will be sold for parts, an estimated $5,000 loss for the California company.