Special Report: Tow Truck Troubles

- LITTLE ROCK, AR -- Christopher Roberge prides himself on a quality, efficient service. That's not to say that he doesn't try to get in and out in seconds.

He calls it, "hooking and booking" because whoever's getting towed probably isn't going to be too happy.

While companies like Roberge's "Lone Wolf Towing and Transport" are just doing their job, he says they tend to catch a bad rap with the people on the wrong end of a tow.

"Whenever you tow someone's car without their consent, they're gonna have some negative things to say," Roberge said. "They're more upset with themselves than they are with the act of you towing their car so they got to blame somebody."

In fact, Arkansans don't like it. Fox 16 obtained hundreds Arkansas Towing and Recovery Board Complaint Forms filed over the last three years.

Those are something Roberge never wants to see.

"We cringe," he added because he knows the other guys don't always work the way he says he does. "Probably more doing it the wrong way than doing it the right way."

Jerry Cole knows all about doing work the right way.

"I've been building since I was about five years old," Jerry explained.

Jerry doesn't tow for a living but he has run his own business since he sold his very first piece of furniture and subsequently made his first purchase: a new black hat.

Hence the company name "Black Hat Designs," which specializes in creating handmade bar and kitchen sets.

In his years, Jerry has learned the cost of business.

"Cut that thumb off," he pointed.

That's why his wife, Tamra, does most of the cutting these days.

Together though they run a pretty tight ship because just like a towing company they have rules to follow.

So when Jerry happened to find himself on that wrong end of a tow with a $350 bill, he wasn't too happy.

But the cost of business wasn't the problem.

"He left it in four wheel drive," Jerry started.

The problem was the list of things done the wrong way.

"He broke the cable underneath it trying to put it in neutral," Jerry said. "The truck wouldn't go in gear. Front axles were both blown plum out of it. It had nothing left in it. It was just in pieces. Ground up."

He was left however to cover the cost of damages.

Upset, he filled out one of those pesky Towing and Recovery Board complaint forms.

As it turns out, Jerry says the owner of the towing company "wasn't bonded through the state and he didn't have any insurance."

Fox 16 found out the Board charged the tow company for failure to obtain the proper permits along with finding 13 other documented illegal tows. The company was charged $650 total for that while Jerry was out thousands.

"It's frustrating," Jerry admitted. "It's aggravating."

It's a prime example he says of doing business the wrong way which Roberge says can have its way of giving the rest of them a bad name.

"Now all towing guys are crooks," Roberge joked.

Roberge, however, says he will continue to try to tow that line, picking up the slack for the rest of them, continuing he says to stay on the right end of a tow.

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