The Western Australian Government intends to crackdown on the tow truck industry after receiving calls to diminish unacceptable behaviour and price gouging. 

All eyes are on the tow truck industry in Perth. Image: Katharine Sparrow via Stockvault.

The McGowan Government has provided a list of proposed changes to the tow truck industry in response to calls for the reform.

Consumer Protection held a consultation with over 6,000 stakeholders in the industry and constructed a survey. 

The survey contained questions regarding price gouging and unacceptable behaviour exhibited by tow truck drivers and their companies.

This survey received over 400 responses with nine in 10 people agreeing the industry needed to be reformed.

The Minister for Commerce Roger Cooke said: “The views expressed as part of the consultation process showed widespread community concern about the tow truck industry in WA”.

The consultation process resulted in the development of several recommended reforms:

  • Criminal background checks mandatory with a tow truck licence. 
  • Setting price caps and registering depots for storage. 
  • Additional information added to the ‘authority to tow’ form. 
  • The power to suspend and cancel licences for breaches of road laws or safety.  

These reforms will be introduced to Parliament mid this year. 

Ruza Burton, a mother of two young children, had a car accident in the later months of 2021 in West Perth.

Her car had to be towed from the location by an unnamed tow truck company. 

When asked about the expericne, Mrs Burton said it was “horrendous”.

“I spent hours every day trying to get someone to send me an invoice [to release the car]… most of the time they would put me on hold and eventually hang up on me and block my calls,” she said. 

“I finally got the invoice. The charges were as follows; $350 yard handling fees, $150 yard handling fee out, $46.80 excess Km’s fee, and $1680 storage fee. I felt ripped off.” She said. 

Lisa Davies is the manager of a family-owned tow truck company of 45 years, Highway Towing.

“I think the issue is with people who have come into the industry in the last 5 years,” she said.

Ms Davies described her frustration at McGowan’s reforms, stating: “we’re not all the same.”

“I mean price gouging. That might be like two people,” she said.  

Ms Davies described her father’s business as honest and credible.

In similar circumstances to Mrs Burton’s, insurers and victims are being forced to pay thousands of dollars to just get their vehicles released from storage yards. 

These reforms will aim to reduce cases like Mrs Burton’s and give rise to tow truck companies like Highway Towing. 

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