Couple says Zone 1 towing company billed them exorbitant fees, including ‘COVID-19’ fees, broke other promises – CBS Chicago

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CHICAGO (CBS) – We thought we had a happy ending on our hands – that a couple who got slapped with thousands of fees by a towing company would get their car back and the fees would be reduced.

Nope.

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The couple said the towing company got creative in racking up cost after cost – in part, blaming the coronavirus pandemic. The towing company says it had to clean the car.

The couple showed the bill to CBS 2 investigator Pam Zekman. She denounces the abuses committed by towing companies for years.

More than 50 cars crammed onto the Kennedy Expressway ice on April 15.

“I lose control of the car and I slip and spin,” said Patthamon Morrow.

Then a Zone 1 tow truck driver gave Morrow his card, telling him they were working with the Illinois State Police – which is not true.

With his insurance company appearing on the back of the card, it made him believe it was legitimate.

“They just convinced me that the insurance would cover everything,” Morrow said.

It wasn’t true either.

She requested that the damaged car be towed to a mechanic near her home. This does not happen.

Instead, the tow truck driver took her car to the Zone 1 parking lot. And when the Morrows picked him up a day and a half later, the towing company demanded they pay nearly $ 2,000. $.

Under state regulations, accident victims can pay towing costs in cash or by using a major credit card.

Chicago Police were called and a responding officer tried to help.

“She asked to see the charges,” Patthamon’s husband Chris Morrow said. “But they didn’t have it.”

The Pre-Towing Disclosure Form, required as a result of our previous inquiries, is meant to inform you of towing charges before hiring a business.

The form they eventually obtained with the help of the police showed $ 1,950 in charges.

It included the charges the Morrows questioned for crash-scene and storage yard services, including $ 190 for debris clean-up and a COVID-19 fee of $ 290.

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“He said, ‘You have to clean up. You have to clean up, clean up, ”Patthamon Morrow said.

“Why is he going in the car to clean it?” It just doesn’t make sense, ”added Chris Morrow. “They are trying to make money with vulnerable people and this pandemic to line their pockets.”

They have filed complaints with the Illinois Attorney General, the Illinois Commerce Commission – which regulates towing companies – and CBS 2.

“We were the victims of a tow truck scam,” Chris Morrow told Zekman. “I contacted you because the police suggested that I contact you. “

At that time, the storage costs accumulated.

“As of today, it’s $ 2,500 with an additional $ 250 per day,” said Chris Morrow, who added that he was unable to afford this.

And the Morrows could lose the car because of it.

“I don’t have the words to express the anger and sadness that I feel,” said Chris Morrow.

Chris called the Zone 1 tow again after an Illinois Commerce Commission investigator told him the company might be willing to negotiate with him.

By this time, storage fees had increased the total the Morrows should have owed to $ 4,700. The towing company offered to deduct $ 2,700 from a remaining balance of $ 2,000 – the amount it objected to in the first place. And that was their last offer.

“You ask me to choose between a car and my family and I can’t make that choice,” Chris Morrow said on the phone with Zone 1.

Zekman therefore contacted Omar Diaz, owner of Area 1 Towing. Diaz defended the COVID-19 charges, but admitted that some of the Morrows’ charges were very high and others should not have been billed at all.

Then he said Chris Morrow could pick up his car for free. This turned out not to be true.

When Chris Morrow left he was told, “The other boss said no.”

“I can’t even put it into words,” said Chris Morrow. “I’m shocked.

The Illinois Commerce Commission is still investigating Morrows’ complaint and a similar one.

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The company has only been in business for about three months and has already been fined $ 3,000 for illegally towing three cars.


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