LIBERTY, Mo. - Even at age 86, Margaret James of Liberty can get fired up.
"I think this is unfair. People need to know what is happening," James said.
One recent Sunday, James got into an accident in Claycomo on her way to church. She rear-ended a car, but no one was hurt.
James said she planned to call AAA for a tow. But she said the officer suggested she use a tow truck driver who appeared at the accident scene.
"I don't know how or why they were there. The officer said they're dependable,” James said.
James said she told the driver to take her car directly to a car repair shop in Liberty, five miles from the accident, since she knows the manager there. The next day, James went to the repair shop and was presented with a tow bill for $913.
"I couldn't believe it," said a stunned James.
The tow company is Good Times Tow, LLC. The receipt shows a $375 charge for one tow and a $250 charge for a second one. The bill also has two $50 charges for storage and a $100 to clean up accident debris.
"I clean up the highway all the time. I would have picked up those little pieces if he hadn't beat me to it," said James, who was not joking.
She often picks up trash along a stretch of highway close to her home. In fact, she does it so much, her name appears on a MoDOT adopt a highway sign honoring her for her hard work.
41 Action News called Good Times Tow twice to ask about the bill. The owner did not return the calls.
When 41 Action News went to the company, a man parked in the owner's spot quickly hopped in his car and drove off. An employee inside the locked business refused to speak with the 41 Action News team.
Missouri lawmakers are currently debating legislation that would crack down on tow truck price gouging. One bill would "establish a rotation list of towing truck companies" for police to call. The tow companies would "comply with all criteria" set up by law enforcement to be included on the "rotation list.”
James paid the bill. AAA refunded her $350. James said she spoke to the owner of Good Times Tow who promised her to reimburse her some of the expense, but later refused.
"If people are charging like that, all the tow trucks ought to be gold plated. It’s ridiculous,” she said.
If you get into an accident and need a tow, it is important to ask questions. Find out how much the tow will cost. If the price feels unacceptable, contact another towing company.
Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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