Monday, June 25, 2012

Scam Alert: R W Towing, Lee, Massachusetts

This is an open letter to AAA detailing my experience with R W Towing (RW's, RW Inc.) out of Lee, Massachusetts.  And by "experience," I mean a rather weak attempt by their douchebag employee to scam me out of a few hundred bucks.

I would definitely avoid doing business with this company.  Can't say I've ever seen anything this shady in my life.

Keep in mind that this is not a swipe at AAA, they were awesome, though they may want to reconsider doing business with these clowns.


Dear AAA,

Your company has been with my family for as long as I can remember.  I'm getting old, so this is a significant portion of time.

We almost never need you.  I can't remember the last time we did.  And I can't remember any time where we had any complaints of any kind, so today came as kind of a shock.

My daughter's church group planned a get-together shopping event to Lee Outlet Malls in Lee, Massachusetts.  Upon finishing our shopping at the outlet, we discovered our car would not start.  I attempted a jump from my daughter's car, no luck, would not even turn over.

I realized I had AAA but I was unsure if this covered myself or my car I was travelling in.

I called my wife, she said she thought it covered *me* but was not sure, so I called AAA and the first thing out of my mouth was "Does my AAA membership cover myself or the car I'm in?"  The AAA representative said my membership covered me.

I requested a tow, and a local company ("R W Towing") was dispatched.

After a few minutes I receive a call from the towing company.  The woman on the other end sounded instantly and profoundly irritated.  I informed her of the situation, specifically told her that one car would be towed to Springfield while I went toward Albany; it is Father's Day, I'm a father, wife was waiting in Troy, NY, unfortunately the original plan to visit extended family in Chicopee would have to be scrapped due to the car difficulties.

A truck was dispatched.  It arrived in a reasonable amount of time.

The driver got out, walked to the front of the car, took one look at the Hispanic family in our group, and starts shaking his head.  I'm standing to his left.  He's not even looking at me while I'm speaking to him, he's just looking at the family, still shaking his head "no."

I don't know what he's saying "no" to.  I'm confused.  So I address the driver.

"We need to have this car towed to Springfield.  Do you need my AAA info?"

He's still shaking his head no, not saying anything.

"You don't need my membership info?"

I was told he would need it so now I'm even more confused.

"OK.  There are six people, I know you can only take two, so two are going to ride with you, the other four are getting a ride back separately."

Tow driver is still shaking his head "no."

"I can't take six people."
"You don't have to, two are going to ride with you, four are getting a ride back."

Tow driver is back to shaking his head.

"Who has the money?"  I point out the gentleman who is handling the payment, at which point the driver starts rattling off what this is going to cost.

"It's three dollars per mile, plus toll fees, plus a gas surcharge, plus a sixty dollar hookup fee..."

At his point I interrupt the guy.  This sounds wrong.

"We were told about the $3/mile after the first three miles, plus the tolls charge, nothing about a gas surcharge or a hookup fee."

"Well, that's what it'll cost."
"I'm going to call AAA."
"You can do whatever you want, it's going to be at least $250-$300."
"What's your name?"
"David Redstone."

At this point I walk away and start dialing.  The driver keeps talking to me in a pretty rude manner, telling me, in different ways, "that's what it costs and calling won't change that."

I ask him to stop talking to me.  Twice.  Three times.  By this time I'm definitely irritated and my voice is definitely louder.  This is as irate as I got with the driver and I certainly did not use anything approaching foul language.  I think I asked the driver to "chill out."

He's still talking, I walk away.

I get an AAA rep on the phone and start explaining the problem.

"You mean he wants to charge you more money than the mileage and tolls?"
"It sounds to me like he's trying to scam you."

The driver, meanwhile, has an epiphany, no doubt entirely unrelated to my being on the phone with AAA, and now he's quoting "$160-$170."  Remarkable.

I relate this to the AAA representative and tell him that the tow driver is attempting to jump the car, the AAA rep tells me, EMPHATICALLY, to NOT let the driver do anything to the car.  I put the phone down and tell the driver, "The AAA representative is telling me to tell you that you should not do anything with the car."

The driver replies, "OK," gets into his truck and drives off.

All of our jaws are on the ground.  The sun has been out all day so the ground is hot.  We pick up our jaws.

At this point I feel horrible because there is a very young child, it's *really* hot, and by following the AAA rep's advice, combined with the driver's beligerence, I've just set back our efforts to get back home by two hours, minimum.

I relate this information to the AAA rep.  He asks if he can put me on hold, no problem.

The rep who helped me was quite nice, I should mention.

While I am on hold I get a phonecall, it's the towing company, specifically the perpetually annoyed woman who I spoke to initially.  She sounds roughly as annoyed as she did during our first conversation.

"You have a problem with my driver?"
"I'll let AAA deal with that issue."

The woman pauses.

"It's not even *your* car."  She says this with an oddly smug "gotcha" tone.

I know this is not my car.  AAA knows this is not my car.  The fact that this was not my car was the very first thing I said to AAA when I called them to arrange the tow.

So either:

(a) The dispatcher is unaware of what services their agreement with AAA covers or;
(b) her mind was completely blown by the possibility of a caucasian riding with a hispanic family.

I ask her if there's anything else I can help her with.  She proceeds to berate me for being rude to the driver.  I hang up.

I'd like to understand a few things better.  Specifically:

  • Why was the towing service demanding money in excess of their agreement with AAA and, by extension, me?

  • What, exactly, convinced the driver that his quote was incorrect since he was not in contact with AAA, his garage or me during his sudden change of heart?

  • Why did the towing service feel that the car not being owned by myself was germane to providing service?

  • Why did the tow driver abandon us?

  • Why did the towing service feel it was appropriate to call and berate me after the driver left?

AAA, we love you guys.  You've got a sterling reputation and this event won't result in my membership being cancelled.  But it IS important for me to trust that when I call AAA for service, I will recieve reasonably courteous service and, more importantly, actual service for the vehicle, without being scammed or abandoned.

I would suggest that your service agreement with this independent towing companies be reviwed so everyone is on the same page.

I would also suggest that this complaint be attached to "R W Towing" and reviewed when future business with this company is considered.

I complain about service just about never.  Almost every call I ever make to customer service, while rare, is to compliment good service because I've been in customer service most of my life, I know it's a difficult and (often) thankless job.

Thanks for your attention, I look forward to hearing back from you.

Jason Desjardins
Member ID# [redacted]

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