Discover How to Dispute Towing Charges on a Credit Card
Having your car towed can be a traumatic experience--one that can linger for weeks or longer if you fight the tow company for a refund. Even if you're 100% sure you were parked legally, it's an uphill battle to dispute towing charges on your credit card on your own. But if you're determined to get that refund--whether you need the money or just looking to right a wrong--there are ways to successfully dispute wrongful towing charges.
Disputing Transactions: Chargebacks vs Refunds
People are often confused about the difference between chargeback and refunds. Both are pathways for consumers to dispute unauthorized transactions. Here's a breakdown of the key differences:
|Refunds||Refunds are processed and funded directly by merchants. This may require consumers to provide documentation and/or contact difficult customer support teams. Seeking a refund can be a slow option and it can take several business days for monies to be deposited.|
|Chargebacks||Chargebacks are processed by the bank or card issuer directly and serve to protect consumers from fraudulent charges. Every financial institution has its own system and timeline for processing chargebacks, but all chargeback policies protect consumer cash.|
How to Get a Towing Charge Refund on Your Own
Difficult, but not impossible--that's what you should be thinking if you're disputing a towing charge on your own. Although a bit of due diligence and willpower can make all the difference, you have to respect the process and play the game to have a chance. Once you 've paid the towing charges, here are the ways to get started with fact-finding:
- Thoroughly inspect the relevant parking signage
- Take photos of the signage and area
- Carefully read the refund policy
- Research local and state laws
Before you move forward at all, make sure you're right about what happened; don't tell your bank your car was illegally towed if it wasn't. It sounds basic enough, but many don't take the time to fully inspect the parking rules and read the towing company's refund policy after having their car towed. Beyond knowing the parking signage and the refund policy, you should find out about towing fee maximums for your area as well as any relevant predatory towing laws on the books. U.S. PIRG has a free search that helps you find any applicable state towing laws.
Once you have a reliable set of facts, you can take action:
- Contact the entity that requested the tow (e.g., an apartment complex manager)
- Contact the towing company and police
- Check to see if the official paperwork was filed
- File a dispute with your bank
- Determine if you want to go to small claims court
You should directly contact the entity that made the towing request; often it's someone like a hotel or apartment manager. Getting specific answers about why the car was towed can help you build your case, especially if the reason the tow was requested doesn 't align with the parking signage. Just remember that losing your cool will be counterproductive.
Though rules differ from region to region, towing companies are also required to keep appropriate documentation of your car and contact the police with your VIN number. By contacting the towing company and the police, you should be able to determine whether the reason for towing matches between the towing company and the entity that requested it. You also will find out whether the towing company filed the appropriate paperwork; if not, you'll have a leg up.
With facts in hand, you can determine whether it's best to file a dispute with the bank or sue the towing company--or the requesting entity--in small claims court.
Problems You Might Encounter During Your Towing Charge Dispute
There are a variety of issues you could encounter while trying to get a chargeback from a towing company. Here are some of the main ones to look for:
- Disinterested employees and police officers
- Mounting time costs
- The pratfalls of small claims court
Whether the police were directly involved in the towing or simply notified, there should be a record of the towing that can help. Just don't expect the police to directly intervene in your dispute; they've heard all the stories and don't have a great deal of incentive to assist if everything seems above board at first glance. The same goes for the towing company and the person who actually requested the towing.
Time costs of towing disputes
Though it 's harder to quantify, the time cost of going it alone against a towing company can become very real. It can be very time-intensive to fact- find and follow up with all the appropriate entities, with people often spending time away from work and family to settle the dispute. Instead of the lingering time cost and mounting frustrations, getting started on any web browser with DoNotPay can have you well on your way to fighting an unfair towing charge.
The double-edged sword of small claims court
If you do go all the way and try to seek a refund through the local small claims court, be careful and consider. While you will have a chance at a partial or full refund if you can prove definitively that there was a mistake, you could end up on the hook for all of the towing fees plus the court fees as well. You might even need a lawyer, further adding to your potential monetary loss. No matter how confident you are in your case, there is a real possibility that you will spend a considerable amount of time and end up paying even more if you go to small claims court.
Checking Your Refund Status for a Towing Dispute
When you're disputing a towing charge on your own, it's up to you to follow up on the refund or chargeback. If you've filed a dispute with your bank, understand that financial institutions tend to be slow and deliberate when it comes to chargebacks. You will likely spend some time on hold during limited customer service hours, only to find out that the issue is still pending with little additional information. Even in obvious cases, you should expect to wait weeks and likely months for a conclusion.
If you've filed a refund request directly with the towing company, more patience is likely needed. Like with contacting the police, towing companies deal with complaints all the time and are rarely motivated to assist with a refund. However, if you have a cut-and-dry, fact-based complaint, politely following up with the towing company can yield positive results before attempting a chargeback through your bank. Just don't expect anything to move quickly if you're doing it on your own.
Disputing Towing Charges on a Credit Card with DoNotPay
Much of the towing system is built upon the inconvenience of fighting towing charges; people usually don't have the luxury of waiting for a dispute resolution (and racking up storage fees along the way). But using DoNotPay to dispute towing charges can streamline the entire dispute process with just a few clicks.
Here are the easy steps to get your towing charge dispute started (and finished):
- Use your web browser to setup a DoNotPay account
- Scroll down and select Chargeback Instantly from the homepage
- Follow the prompts and provide bank and transaction information
- Confirm all information and formally send a dispute
Once the correct information has been submitted, DoNotPay can send an official chargeback letter straight to your bank or create a letter you can send yourself. You can then expect to see a charge reversal in days after your bank processes the chargeback request; if the towing company doesn 't dispute the chargeback, you keep the refund.
If more information needs to be obtained, DoNotPay can even make inquiries on your behalf to further increase the chances of a successful chargeback from the towing company. Similar to seeking a refund for plane tickets , the system helps cut through the red tape that often dissuades customers from ever filing a dispute.
What Else Can DoNotPay Do?
DoNotPay is designed to save you time and frustration when it comes to disputing a charge, and the painless process can assist you well beyond disputing a towing charge on your credit card. There 's no reason to be intimidated by big business! With DoNotPay's 'Chargeback Instantly' product, you can also dispute a transaction from any of these companies:
With options like virtual credit cards that help you avoid fees after free trials, along with a wide variety of simplified refund and dispute services, DoNotPay is the proven way to level the playing field for the consumer.