We are a trucking company based in Michigan. In May 2016, while traveling on the PA turnpike I-76, one of our trucks was knocked off of the roadway resulting in the driver’s death and a mangled truck and trailer.
When the recovery and cleanup were completed, we received the following three invoices:
- An invoice from the primary tow company, J.E. Herring, for a total of $143,413.05.
- An invoice for $18,000 for an additional “Rotator Wrecker” which J.E. Herring apparently did not have
- A third invoice for $43,000 from a cleaning company. A very small portion of this load was haz-mat.
For the J.E. Herring invoice, the most glaring proofs of gouging are:
- $900 per hour fees for each of their largest wreckers. (Our average recent fair average is $350 - $450 per hour)
- Dumpster Bags (4) $200.00
- Camera $250.00
- Head Sets Per Day $500.00
- 2 Chop Saw Blades $550.00
- 2 Chain Saw Blades $550.00
- Rope $100.00
- Buckets $150.00 Per Day
- Brooms $ Shovels $150.00 Per Day
- Loading Dock $450 an additional $600 for the forklift used on the loading dock.
- Straps Chains Binders $150.00
- Master Wreck Supervisor $150.00 per hour ($4,845.00 TTL)
- Storage Fees $7,650.00 for 15 days storage.
- Misc Gloves, Boots, Uniforms Coats $1,000.00 PER DAY ($3,000.00 TTL)
- Administrative fee $13,037.55
There is much more but these are some examples of the ridiculous abusive rating that is being applied.
On a single day example of this 3 day clean-up (5/15/2016) the following is true.
- We were billed for 8.5 hour work day
- For the 11 listed pieces of equipment we were charged $25,450.00
- This averaged $2,800 per hour for equipment only
- We were charged $11,895.00 in additional expenses on this day, $1,000 of which was listed as uniforms.
- We were charged $1000 for uniforms on this single day.
- These total $36,345 for a single day of this total wreck recovery.
Because this wreck happened on the turnpike, the turnpike alone, decides not only WHO can perform services on its roadway but which company responds. We, the consumer have no opportunity to discuss or negotiate rates with the service provider and there is absolutely no mechanism available from the state of Pennsylvania or the turnpike commission to protect us as consumers, from price gouging. This is wholly unacceptable.
If these rates were published for all to see prior the need and there were a fair and competitive selection process, J.E. Herring would get no work. We’ve dealt with no fewer than tow and recovery situations utilizing heavy duty wreckers and we can prove that these rates are not only unnecessarily inflated but in most cases with a markup rate exceeding 500%. This would be extremely unacceptable were this invoice submitted to a state agency.
A gentleman from the turnpike authority reviewed the invoices and said that he found the invoice to be reasonable. This would be true if he compared it to nothing more than other invoices from J.E. Herring or possibly other towers on the turnpike that have a no competition situation. A monopoly.