WSVN — You are in a car accident. You have a towing company you want to use. The city has a towing company they use, which will cost you a lot more. So who gets to choose which towing company hauls you away? You or the police? It’s why one man called Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

If a computer crashes, Richard Binjamain knows what to do.

Richard Binjamain: "I fix computers for a living."

But he was not so comfortable with a car crash.

Richard Binjamain: "I was so shocked. I could not think of anything."

On a Thursday night, another car smashed into Richard while he was driving in Hollywood.

Richard Binjamain: "I figured that my vehicle was not drivable, and I called a tow company from Miami to come get my vehicle."


Richard Binjamain: "I didn’t realize that the police officer had already called another tow company."

Hollywood has a contract with Superior Towing to remove cars in accidents, but they would charge $130. So Richard told the officer he wanted to use his friend’s towing company because they would only charge him $80. The officer’s response…

Richard Binjamain: "’If your guy gets [here] before the company that he called, that’s fine."

The towing company called by the officer showed up first.

Richard Binjamain: "And as soon as he started hooking up my car, my car was still on the floor on the ground, and my guy showed up, I said, ‘My guy is there, can he pick up my car?’ And they said no, my car is already hooked up."

Howard, legally, do you get to choose the towing company or do the police?

Howard Finkelstein: "You have the right to call the company you want, but by law, the police don’t have to wait to clear the scene, and if the towing company they call gets there first, that’s who tows the car."

The company with the contract with Hollywood then towed Richard’s car to their lot. The next day, Friday, Richard says he called to come get the car.

Richard Binjamain: "And they said, ‘The release department is closed. You would have to come on Monday.’"

Richard says a Superior Towing employee told Richard they are closed for pickups on Saturday and Sunday, meaning Richard had to pay more storage. And, when he was able to get a tow truck to come get the car on Tuesday, he was stunned at the towing bill.

Richard Binjamain: "She told me that, ‘Well, it’s going to cost you $401.76.’"

The breakdown: $130 to tow the car, $110 for labor to hook up and drop the car in the tow lot, and  $120 for storage. Throw in $41 for administrative fees and taxes, and Richard had to pay $401 to get his car back.

Richard Binjamain: "It’s uncalled for. I would hope that the city does not give them authorization to do all that."

Well Howard, you looked at the contract and the bill Richard got. Is it all legal?

Howard Finkelstein: "The tow company has the right to close for pickup on Saturday and Sunday, but when Richard called on Friday, they had to release the car. Since they didn’t, any charges after that are not Richard’s responsibility."

I first talked to the spokesperson for the City of Hollywood. Raelin story told me Superior Towing was a good vendor and had a great reputation, that they were allowed by their contract to not allow pickups on Saturday and Sunday. Also, that Superior told them Richard didn’t call or come in to get his car on Friday. Richard then got his phone records that showed he had called Superior Towing that Friday afternoon.

I called Sean Loscalzo, the owner of Superior Towing. He didn’t know that Richard had called on that Friday. He told me, to make Richard happy, he would return everything except the price of the tow. Even the $110 for labor, which he said he didn’t have to return. Richard then got a check.  

Richard Binjamain: "Patrick was fighting for me. He was able to recover some money, and today I am the happiest man living. I was able to get $271.76 back, and thank you to Patrick."

Glad we could help. Now this was what’s called a police tow. If you are towed from private property for parking illegally, it’s a little different. The tow company is required to post a number at their location so you can call after hours or when they are closed. They then have one hour to release your vehicle. If they don’t, they can’t hit you for storage. With this Help me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN
On Twitter: @helpmehoward7

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