West Virginia commission believes company overcharged for third-party tows

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line staff writer | 5/16/2016

In addition to being recommended by staff of the Public Service Commission of West Virginia to give a full refund for one overcharged tow, the staff is also recommending Hutch’s Wrecker Service reimburse more than $5,000 for another.

The West Virginia commission issued a staff recommendation on May 4 that Hutch’s Wrecker Service reimburse $5,593.23 after overcharging for a third-party tow. The reimbursement recommendation was in response to a complaint filed in 2015 by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association on behalf of one of its members.

In the same week, the PSC staff recommended that Hutch’s refund the full amount of $185,894.91 to A.D. Transport Express after it determined the towing company’s invoice included overcharges and non-allowable charges. Both cases are set for hearings in the coming months.

The OOIDA complaint showed that Hutch’s charged a total of $1,700 for five days of storage for the tractor, trailer and cargo. However, the commission-approved tariff allows for no more than $40 per day for tractor and trailers and no additional charge for cargo, dropping Hutch’s allowable charge for the service to $200.

In the same case, Hutch’s charged $1,080 for additional labor. The commission said it couldn’t be proven that many workers were used or needed.

“Utility Staff requested documentation to support the number of laborers used on the scene, such as time sheets, payroll records, etc.,” the commission wrote. “Hutch’s response filed on April 21 states that there were seven people total but nothing additional was submitted as support. Utility Staff’s determination that four additional laborers is unreasonable, and Utility Staff’s recommendation of this charge being non-allowable remains unchanged.”

According to the commission staff, Hutch’s also overcharged for the use of a large wrecker, road tractor, coordinator fee and pilot jack, as well as for labor to add fuel and a fuel surcharge.

The hearing for the OOIDA complaint is set for June, and a two-day hearing on the A.D. Transport complaint is slated for August.

Related article:
Huge reimbursement 'sends message' to tow companies that inflate bills

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