Senior Member, Non-Attorney
The fee is based on the "manufacturer’s gross weight rating" of your trailer, not on the actual weight. If your trailer is 12,000 empty, then I'm sure that the "manufacturer’s gross weight rating" exceeds 20,000 lbs.Hi everyone. Thank you for the insightful responses. Sorry for the delay, I was a little busy.
To answer your question, the delay was 'on purpose' because several calls were made to the towing company before they released the trailer to me. I called the tow company 8 times between 12:30pm and 5:30pm on a Saturday. They answered each call (except 1 because they started to ignore me after the 7th call). In the first phone call, the manager I spoke with lied about the business hours and said he was closed (this is at 12:30pm). The real business hours are 9am to 1pm on Saturdays. They used the same business hours to tow the trailer, but refused to give it back within their hours of operation. Anyway, the manager continued to lie in each phone call and told me he was closed. He said I would need to pickup the trailer on Monday. I did further investigation of the towing company and realized that the official operating hours are 9am to 1pm. I confronted the tow manager over the phone for lying. He responded by saying 'it doesn't matter what I said earlier, you're not getting the trailer until Monday' (this conversation was around 5:30pm) . After I threatened to sue, someone else from the company gave me a call at around 6:30pm and released the trailer to me at around 7:20pm after paying a ransom of $550 (they said it's normally $500, but $50 is a 'favor fee'- complete bs). However, it was much too late by then. The freight that I was scheduled to pickup was canceled by then. Also, there is an incentive for towing companies to hold vehicles because they can arbitrarily charge storage fees at will. And no, I didn't tell the tow company I needed the trailer by "X o'clock" because I didn't think that was relevant. Why do I need to give a reason to retrieve MY things if I called within the business hours? The trailer is M-I-N-E. That's the only reason I need.
Zinger is correct, this was an non-consensual tow. However, there are more issues regarding the parking rules. There were NO signs present in the parking lot prohibiting parked trailers. The trailer was parked at a Loves truckstop. Loves is a franchise, and there are many locations that allow you to park your trailer/truck without worries for up to 24 hours. Whenever parking rules differ from other truckstops, signs are always present. The truckstop I visited didn't have signs (I took pictures of this for my case).
Taxing Matters, I've thought about framing the loss as a breach of contract, but I'm not sure which contract was breached because I never signed anything and this was a non-consensual tow. However, the tow company should have an obligation to return personal property if people call and request their vehicles WITHIN BUSINESS HOURS. Is it really legal for them to return people's property when they feel like it? This can't be possible. This is why I'm trying to find something that allows me to make a claim.
I also found some other laws in Wisconsin that limit the amount they are allowed to charge.
https://towing.witruck.org/laws/towing-storage-liens/ [ Wis. Stat. ch. 342 ]
My trailer was empty when it was towed, and it's only about 12,000 pounds. According to the rules, anything under 20,000 pounds should only cost $120. Not $550. And no 'favor fee' clauses. I plan to add this to the suit. They completely ripped me off.
Frankly, $550 seems more than reasonable for this. No matter how you spin it, the fact is they stayed after-hours to allow you to pick up the trailer. You're lucky that you didn't actually have to wait until Monday.
You can focus on the signage, but I suspect that you don't really have any solid ground there, either. It's likely you just didn't see the sign, and I'm sure that your pictures won't show a sign because...why would they?