Wrecker company says its rates are fair

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HOLLY TOWNSHIP (WJRT) - (12/19/16) It was a mess - 40 cars piled up on I-75.

Last week, a man told us he was gouged by a towing company after the accident.

Armstead Automotive has a contract with the state for a section of I-75 near Holly. If ever there's an emergency on the freeway, they get the call.

That's what happened Dec. 10. A state police sergeant called Armstead Automotive about 2 p.m. that day.

"He says, ‘Hey Ben, I need you and the whole family. I've got I-75 shut down. We've got 40 cars that are all smashed,’" said Ben Armstead, of Armstead Automotive.

Armstead Automotive responded with four trucks. They were assisted by nearby Byers Towing.

"We are the only towing companies during an emergency situation by the state police that is contracted to remove those vehicles," Armstead said.

To avoid allegations of gouging, the state police and Armstead have negotiated a contract on what can be charged in situations like the pile up on the expressway.

Thomas Waskiewicz, of Mt. Morris, didn't see it that way.

"They kind of had you stuck. You can't do anything," Waskiewicz said.

"We have to abide by these rates and follow these. We were right within reason. Actually a little less for this guy in particular," Armstead said.

Armstead charged Waskiewicz a total of $270 to get him to the holding lot.

"Following the state police contract, we could have charged him $450," Armstead said.

Considering all the wrecked vehicles and all the debris that was left on the roadway, the two wrecker services were able to clear I-75 in only four hours.

"They said we did an excellent job and we cleaned it up extremely fast," Armstead said.

Waskiewicz thinks the rates allowed by the state police are too high. Wrecker companies say for all the dangerous conditions and expenses they face, the rates are fair.

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