Predatory auto body shops may be operating legally, but not ethically

Apparently, autobody shops are rushing to the scene of accidents, hoping to tow your car and then start racking up tons of inflated charges, thinking victims won't know any better. A woman in Inglewood is fighting a $10,000 vehicle storage charge, that the autobody shop has graciously offered to cut in half.

CBS Local:

However, the tow truck was not with the police. Instead, it brought her daughter's Honda to Airport Collision and Repair, as Davis followed behind in her Range Rover. The body shop told her vehicle wasn't safe to drive.

"My muffler was against my gas tank, and it was going to blow up," said Davis.

From that day on, both cars started to rack up all types of fees such as $110 for a COVID cleaning fee, $140 for a Hazmat fee, $275 for a forklift fee, $200 for photos and $225 a day for storage — for each car.

"Way on the high end," said attorney Steven Simmons, who handles predatory towing cases. "The average in my experience is $100 to $150 max."

In California, there is no cap on what private businesses can charge for storage fees. Experts claim that consumers have very little protection against suspected predatory towing.

Simmons warns consumers to check things like a truck's Department of Transportation number and reviews online.

"Very little protections except what they do for themselves," said Simmons. "Before that car is put on the hook, check all these things."