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Towing association tells reason for costs



Published: Sun, September 2, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Towing companies hear a lot of flak about the prices they charge. Find out at the fair why prices are what they are.

By MARALINE KUBIK

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

CANFIELD -- Every driver dreads getting stuck in the mud, a flat tire, a dead battery or being locked out.

Towing companies come to the rescue, but not without a price. An average tow costs at least $45, and service calls to jump a dead battery or unlock doors start at around $25, according to Bob McCracken, owner of Bob's Chamois House in Salem and president of the Towing and Recovery Association of Ohio, Region 4.

"People get upset with us, they think we're ripping them off. But they don't understand what it costs for us to stay in business," he said. "I have to run a truck eight out of every 24 hours -- eight hours of calls, not waiting for calls -- just to break even."

A light-duty flatbed truck costs $49,995, a light-duty tow truck $47,895. Those are the least expensive trucks and basic necessities for any towing company. Prices for larger trucks go up from there, he said.

Equipment: Then, each truck must be equipped with basic tools and necessities: bolt cutters, jump boxes, tow lights, first aid kits and cell phones. That costs another $3,785 per truck. Add another $900 for two-way radios, $140 for license plates and almost $3,000 per basic vehicle for insurance.

That doesn't include costs for employee training, wages or health insurance, charges for truck maintenance or fuel.

Truck maintenance -- new tires, tune-ups, oil changes and other routine service -- average $6,500 per vehicle every 50,000 miles, he said. Tack on another $7,695 for fuel.

Wages for drivers start at about $22,000 a year, workers' compensation costs another $3,500 and health insurance $3,150. Employee training, excluding travel, meals and accommodations costs $395.

This is what determines the fees customers pay, McCracken said.

Booth: A booth sponsored by the Towing and Recovery Association at this year's Canfield Fair seeks to inform past and potential customers about the costs of operating a towing business so they are better able to understand why tows, jumps and lock-out assistance cost what they do, he said.

The organization also wants to educate the public about Make-A-Wish Foundation, a nonprofit organization that fulfills the wishes of seriously ill children.

It invited Make-A-Wish to share its tent and is sponsoring a dunking booth, proceeds from which benefit the wish organization.




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