The Ontario government introduced new rules on Jan. 1 for towing and vehicle storage services in response to growing complaints from passenger and commercial vehicle operators over skyrocketing towing bills and reportedly questionable and intimidating roadside practices by some in the recovery industry.
OTA applauded Minister of Government and Consumer Services, the Honourable Maria-France Lalonde and Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca for championing the bill and “helping vehicle owners gain some legal leverage over unscrupulous recovery operators,” said OTA president Stephen Laskowski.
The passing of Bill 15, Fighting Fraud and Reducing Automobile Insurance Rates Act, 2014, requires tow and storage providers in Ontario to publicly disclose recovery rates, among many other changes. Heavy-duty recovery rates and service levels have historically been a contentious issue between carriers and a small percentage of heavy-duty recovery companies. Over the years, OTA, with assistance from the Ontario Recovery Group, has had some success in assisting member carriers who received inflated recovery invoices
“The passing of Bill 15 provides OTA with a new opportunity to assist OTA members in dealing with unfair heavy-duty recovery bills received in the province. OTA intends to investigate whether the actual bill heavy-duty recovery companies charge at roadside reflects the rates they are officially listing on their websites. We expect to discover there are no issues with the vast majority of heavy-duty recovery companies. But, just like in any other sector, it only takes a few bad apples to reflect poorly on an entire industry,” said Laskowski.
To conduct this analysis, OTA will be asking members to send the association all heavy-duty recovery invoices they received in 2016 along with a description of the service paid for. OTA will then do a comparison between geographical regions, types of services provided and posted heavy-duty recovery rates. OTA will continue to collect heavy-duty recovery invoices throughout 2017 so-year-over comparisons can be examined.
“Our goal is to keep an eye on the marketplace and educate our members on fair heavy-duty recovery rates based on service rendered and region of activity,” added Laskowski. “If we can identify abnormalities among certain regions, this will assist OTA in holding informed discussions with the Ontario Provincial Police, Ministry of Government and Consumer Services and the Ministry of Transportation.”
Member carriers interested in assisting OTA in this effort are asked to scan any heavy-duty recovery invoices they received in Ontario in 2016 and so far in 2017 and forward them to email@example.com.
OTA will be asking the Ontario Recovery Group for assistance during this process.
To view all the changes to the recovery industry brought on by Bill 15, please click here.