Controller: Private tow companies are bilking drivers

City Controller Alan Butkovitz today accused private tow truck operators in Philadelphia of exceeding legal limits on tow fees and running cash-only businesses, which is prohibited by city law.

Butkovitz said the tow company violations were blatant and widespread, which the controller blamed on law enforcement by the city's department of Licenses and Inspections, which regulates the city's private towing industry.

"It seems like there's open contempt for what the rules are because L&I has left such a gap in enforcement that these companies actually believe that they're making the law," said Butkovitz at a morning press conference.

The controller's report includes photos of signs posted throughout the city by private tow companies warning motorists that a tow will cost them $175, exceeding the $150 limit set by city law. Many of the signs also say the tow operators will only accept cash as payment, another violation of city law.

Butkovitz recommended that L&I step up enforcement of towing law, and also urged increase police department involvement to "deter the type of predatory towing and price gouging that goes on in Philadelphia."

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