>>Gill: This is your “Marketplace”.>>Erica: We’re heading to the scene of an accident with the cops in Ottawa. On the lookout for tow truck drivers’ dirty tricks. This accident just happened, but already seven tow trucks have shown up.>>As soon as the police officers arrive, they scatter just like cockroaches.>>Erica: There goes one. Sergeant John Kiss is a veteran traffic cop.>>It’s bad enough that we have two cars blocking the intersection, but then you got six truck and sometimes the drivers get out of the trucks being aggressive with each other, with the cars involved, with you guys.>>It’s like a pool of sharks. Six tow trucks show up.>>Erica: Why are they so desperate to get here first?>>Collision tow is very lucrative for these companies. It’s worth 6, 7, $800 to tow a vehicle from a collision scene. This is the thing that we’re faced with time and time again day after day.>>Erica: With so much cash at stake, are some tow truck drivers using tricks to take you for a ride? Erin Moore is on her way to work. She’s a makeup artist in Toronto. Suddenly, the car in front stops fast. She rear-ends it. A tow truck quickly shows up. She says no thanks and drives to a side street to exchange info with the other driver. But the tow truck driver follows her.>>He was saying things like, it may look fine; Like, I know it just looks like a little fender bender but if a wheel falls off when you’re driving down the highway and causes someone else to crash, that’s on you.>>Erica: So Erin agrees to be towed to the collision reporting centre but somehow the tow truck driver first takes her to the wrong one, an extra hour of towing. Then he recommends he take her car here to Taurus Auto Collision.>>I’m feverishly looking online for reviews on this place, and I’m not finding anything good.>>Erica: Erin wants to find out where her insurance company wants her to go, but the tow truck driver takes her car around back. She texts a friend to come help>>Not to sound like the damsel in distress, but I wanted my guy friend there to lay down the law and say give her her car back.>>Erica: But when her friend shows up, the owner locks the gate.>>At that point she was saying well, you know what? That’s not a $250 tow anymore. And she starts upping it.>>Erica: They finally negotiate a deal to get the car back. Over $700 in cash. Turns out, all that extra towing adds up to $217 for mileage plus 250 for the tow. 60 for storage. And just to tow her car from the back of the autobody shop out to the street, an extra $103.>>I felt duped. I felt stupid. I felt tricked. (police radio) >>Erica: Who else will get tricked? We’re back on the road, in an unmarked car, monitoring a special police feed for accidents.>>There’s another tow truck here. Look.>>Okay, see he’s in a hurry.>>Erica: He is, he is. Aggressive tow trucks have become a safety hazard racing to accidents.>>Ooh look at that.>>Blocking emergency crews. That’s why Ottawa has got a bylaw. Tow trucks can’t come within 100 metres of an accident unless they’re called by the cops or a driver. They can be fined $190.>>Hey.>>How are ya?>>What are you doing here?>>What AM I doing? I was going home, actually.>>What does the bylaw say?>>Not to be within a hundred metres.>>How close are you to the collision scene?>>I think this is more than a hundred metres.>>Buy yourself a tape measure and find out — >>I don’t need to buy myself a tape measure. You could tape measure it right now.>>Erica: While Kiss goes to pace it out… is it very competitive trying to get these tows?>>It comes down to almost a race. And to how well you are good at talking to somebody and kind of, y’know getting them to believe whatever you can say.>>Erica: After measuring, sergeant Kiss says this driver is too close.>>50 paces from here.>>I’m not going to argue –>>Don’t argue because if you want me too I’ll go get a tape measure and charge you.>>– That’s what I’m saying>>– So move on. Go.>>Erica: The tow truck driver starts to drive away but then stops. Walks back to us.>>Is he looking for a bylaw ticket? Go ahead.>>The other accident that I was on the other day, I got a ticket. The other gentleman didn’t.>>I wasn’t there, but I can tell you what all the officers are being told to do. At a collision scene enforce the bylaw. We’ve got never-ending public complaints about what’s happening at collision scenes because it’s out of control.>>Erica: Arguing with police? Risking safety to get to an accident? We’re about to learn why for some tow truck drivers it’s worth it. [ ♪♪ ] Fitness trainer Sahil Mulla is driving his sports car just outside Toronto when suddenly he’s rear-ended.>>Tow truck drivers, they showed up within 5, 10 minutes. I was in shock a little bit, obviously. So the tow truck guy’s like, I’ll help you out, no worries. They made me feel all safe and stuff.>>Erica: Sahil asked where he should take his car.>>There’s this Lyons Autobody Shop, I get my car fixed there all the time. They’re awesome. Just take it there, leave the car there, because it was a Saturday, and they said on Monday you can talk to your insurance.>>Erica: But on Monday when he tries to get his car moved to a shop his insurance company prefers, Lyons wants whopping storage fees for two days 8,000 bucks. He’s stuck.>>That’s when I realized something was really wrong. I went online, I did my research.>>Erica: The reviews aren’t exactly comforting. “Do not take your business to them.” “They held the car hostage.” “Do not let them touch your car.” The repairs are only supposed to take a month. (phone ringing)>>Hi there. Could I talk to Brian please?>>Erica: Three months later he’s still trying to get his car back. Lyons says parts have been delayed.>>Erica: Finally what he’s been waiting to hear.>>For sure today, though, right?>>Erica: But an hour later Lyons calls back. Now they say Sahil can’t have his car. Seems his insurance company won’t pay the hefty Bill. So he gives them a call. His insurance agent says Lyons isn’t being very cooperative.>>I think they’re hanging onto my car as leverage.>>Okay.>>Erica: He waits, anxious about his car.>>Hello?>>Don’t get taken for a ride, get hooked onmarketplace.[ ♪♪ ]>>Erica: Three months after his accident, Sahil Mulla is still trying to get his car back from the garage it was towed to.>>I’m being serious about getting my car back, and I’ll do whatever it takes.>>Erica: He heads into Lyons Autobody.>>Erica: Secretly recording on his phone.>>Erica: How’s that for customer service? Sahil now wishes he hadn’t let the tow truck driver talk him into taking his car to Lyons. Why would a tow truck operator take a driver to a particular autobody shop?>>It’s well-known that in certain elements of the towing industry and autobody shops the autobody shops will give kickbacks to tow truck drivers for bringing them the business.>>Erica: So they’re getting money for steering drivers to a particular repair shop?>>Oh, yes absolutely. That’s not uncommon or new. I’ve heard a 500 to a thousand dollars.>>Erica: That’s a lot of money. What’s in it for the auto body shop?>>Well they get the lucrative repair contract. When the average car can run 40, $50,000 new, it’s nothing to run up a 10,15, $20,000 repair bill, what’s 500 or a thousand of that given to the tow truck driver that brings them the business?>>Erica: easy to see why some tow truck drivers are desperate to get you hooked. Back on our ride-along…>>That’s nearby. We’ll go check that one out.>>Erica: Another accident comes across the police feed.>>It’s up there. Looks like there’s tow trucks there too.>>Erica: Remember Ottawa’s bylaw says tow trucks aren’t allowed within 100 metres of an accident unless they’ve been called to the scene.>>What are you doing here?>>Trying to make a living, sir. I have five kids to support.>>Go and sit in your truck. Go and sit in your truck. Go>>Excuse me, sir.>>Erica: Just wondering did they call you to this accident? This person in the accident?>>What’s the point you guys following us everywhere and asking questions?>>Erica: We’re wondering if you’re following the bylaw. So you just showed up here without him actually calling you in?>>Did you call this tow truck to the scene?>>No, he said he works for the police.>>He told you he worked for the police and he showed up here by himself.>>Yeah.>>Okay, so this tow truck showed up at the scene. He said that he works with us. And he’s about to hook up to this gentleman’s car, which apart from the cosmetic damage of the bumper missing certainly seems to be drivable at this stage. What do you feel about driving your car?>>I can drive it.>>There you go.>>Erica: Drivable? Not the message they get from the tow truck driver.>>He just was getting ready to tow it and then that police officer showed up.>>Erica: So If the police officer hadn’t shown up, would you have let him tow your car?>>Oh, yeah. I wouldn’t have known better.>>Erica: Looks like we helped this couple avoid a tow trick in the nick of time. But wait a second.>>Here’s another tow truck. What are you doing here?>>What I’m doing?>>Yeah. What’s the bylaw say?>>100 feet.>>100 metres.>>Metres?>>Yeah. 300 feet. I think you’re closer than that.>>Erica: While this guy tries to scoop some business, the first tow truck driver takes off. The previous driver here recommended that this car be towed. And now he’s taking off. This car doesn’t need to be towed.>>Actually he run away from ticket. I came here to see accident. Yes, I want to tow accident. Because I have two kids. I have, like, a property tax to pay.>>Erica: So how much money is this little fender bender worth? If you bring it to a particular body shop, what kind of commission do you get from the body shop for bringing them business?>>Me personally I don’t deal with that stuff. I know many body shops they pay money to bring them accidents. Some people they pay 2 to $500. Yes. They pay. The body shop, they pay the tow truck.>>Erica: Have you ever been offered that commission?>>I been offered, but I refuse.>>Erica: How much were they offering?>>They offer me $300 yes.>>Gill: This is your “Marketplace”. [ ♪♪ ]>>Erica: We’re revealing how you can protect yourself from tow tricks. It’s been nothing but headaches for Sahil Mulla since his car was towed after an accident. He’s waited three months to get it fixed. Battled bad customer service. Now he’s on his way back to Lyons Autobody.>>Hopefully today I will walk out with my car.>>Erica: This time with an insurance check for over $13,000.>>Money talks. I’m hoping money will be the reason they’ll release the vehicle today. If they pull something, it’s going to be another fight.>>Erica: We go in with him, hidden cameras rolling.>>Erica: Out comes the owner, John Lyons.>>Erica: After three months, the body shop damages the car?>>Erica: Sahil can’t believe it.>>If you look at it, it’s not good. It makes me angry. How do you have a ding on a car before a customer is supposed to pick it up? I wouldn’t tell anybody to go to this shop. Ever. I don’t know how they’re in business. They rely on tow trucks I guess.>>Erica: With that kind of service why would a tow truck driver suggest anyone take their car to Lyons? We check out the company that towed Sahil’s car, Credit Valley Towing. They’re tow truck driver just said Lyons was a good shop. But look at all those Lyons tow trucks. What’s the deal?>>Hi, is this Mr. Zeineh?>>Erica: To find out, a “Marketplace” staffer gives Credit Valley a call.>>When you take the vehicle to different autobody shops, do you guys sometimes get referral fees?>>There’s an autobody shop called Lyons. Do you work with them? I notice that on the website–>>You do? Do you have an arrangement with them?>>So do they give you referral fees for bringing vehicles to them?>>Erica: Lyons doesn’t want to talk to us on camera. So we pay them a visit. Brian Majocha is the manager who handled Sahil’s car. Erica Johnson from “Marketplace”. We wanted to talk about a customer — >>You gotta shut the cameras off.>>Erica: Well, we have a couple questions — >>No comment. John will be back on Monday. You can speak to him at that time.>>Erica: What’s your position here? Aren’t you a manager?>>Yes.>>Erica: So, we’re curious about your relationship with tow truck operators.>>There’s no relation. There’s nothing. So okay.>>Erica: Are you paying tow truck drivers to bring customers here?>>No. Have a good day.>>Erica: Shouldn’t people know when they’re brought here that tow truck drivers a secretly benefiting? A manager who can’t answer anything. [ ♪♪ ]>>Erica: Keeping people in the dark might explain why Erin Moore didn’t know her tow truck driver was also working for the body shop she got towed to. It’s been more than a year since she had to pay over $700 to get her car away from Taurus Auto Collision. A tow Erin didn’t even need. Taurus tells us they have no recollection of Erin, her car or the dispute. And that the tow truck driver doesn’t work there anymore.>>Hopefully people see what happened to me and they’ll become more aware that they don’t let it happen to them.>>Erica: It was a hard lesson for Erin. But there was a silver lining. That friend she called to help rescue her car was so sweet, he’s now her sweetie. For years now, the Ontario government has been promising new rules to protect people. Now due sometime next year. If you’re in a crash, don’t get hooked. Call the 1-800 number on youret insurance slip and get advice on where to get towed so you’re not at the whim of tow tricks.