New Jersey residents have had it with towing companies – and they are fighting back. In a lawsuit filed recently in the Superior Court of New Jersey, residents accuse a towing company of engaging in unlawful and fraudulent practices. These practices include overcharging for services authorized by municipalities and charging for unauthorized services.
What does the law say about this?
Vehicle-towing companies that work with municipalities are subject to Predatory Towing Prevention Action (PTPA) laws and regulations; laws passed to protect consumers from “unscrupulous towers.” While they are authorized to engage in both consensual and non-consensual towing of vehicles at the discretion of the municipality, they must adhere to PTPA regulations.
What are people arguing against?
Consumers argue that towing companies in New Jersey engaged in deceptive conduct by charging fees and surcharges New Jersey law expressly prohibits, including day storage fees, fuel surcharge fees, lot removal fees and mileage fees.
The law forbids towing companies from:
- Charging a fee for private property or other non-consensual towing or related storage service not listed on the schedule of services for which a fee is charged as established by the director except as may be permitted by the director by regulation; or
- Charging an unreasonable or excessive fee
Residents argue that companies have charged unreasonable and excessive fees beyond what the law allows.
What is an “unreasonable” or “excessive” fee?
These limits are:
- $3.00 per day for the first 30 days of storage per vehicle
- $2.00 per day for the 31st day of storage and any day after that
- $400.00 per vehicle stored regardless of the duration of the storage, though the Division of Local Government Services in the Department of Community Affairs can request an exception
In conclusion, vehicle-towing companies will find themselves in hot water for unlawful acts, including knowingly violating fee limits.