Flood victim hit with $1,200 towing bill

By Jamie Boll - bio l email

Produced by Jeff Keene - email 

Charlotte, NC (WBTV) - It's not the way a vacation should end. 

"A washer or some sort of seal busted," said Baxter Burleson.

Whatever it was, left his home a flooded mess.  Water was running through his Mooresville home for several days.

"The source of the break was in the laundry room upstairs and water just migrated down and as long as it had been running, it just spread out and just destroyed everything," said Burleson standing in the shell of what he described as his dream home.

A local hotel gave him a cut-rate on a room to put up his family.  Lowe's Home Improvement gave him a good deal on some building supplies, but not everyone was as generous.

Burleson loaded up what could be salvaged into a box truck he owned.  He just needed a place to park it overnight before taking it to a relative's house.  He went to the Food Lion up the street.

"I got permission from the manager to park it there," said Burleson.  "I was going to get the next morning."

By the next morning, the truck was gone.  It was towed by Complete Wrecker Services to its lot in West Charlotte.

Burleson said he was told the Food Lion manager didn't have the right to give him the okay to park in the lot.  It was owned by a property management company that hired Complete Wrecker Services to patrol the lot.

The cost to get his truck back would $1,250.

"His response was, he's in business of towing cars, not feeling sorry for people," said Burleson.

The $1,250 was double what other tow trucks companies tell us they charge.

Burleson called the WBTV's Problem Solvers to see if anything could be done.   We called the property manager who in turn called Complete Wrecker.  The towing company agreed to lower the price to $800 or so we thought.

Burleson went to get his truck and we went along to ask some questions about pricing.

An employee of Complete Wrecker asked us to get our camera off the property.  We took it across the street.

Burleson was told to call WBTV off or he would be charged the full $1,250.

Burleson again explained the situation he was in, how his house had been flooded and how he asked permission to park in the lot.  His pleas were ignored and Burleson paid the full price and met us across the street.

"They said it's $800 to call you guys off," said Burleson. "I said no, I'll pay the $1,250."

We asked him why he did that.

"The story needs to be aired don't you think," explained Burleson.

Moments later, an employee invited us back to the Complete Wrecker office.

We were told they have contracts for everything they do.  They also admitted their prices are high, but in this case, they were going to make an exception.

They called Burleson back and refunded $650 dollars, putting the charge more in line with what other companies told us they charge.

"I think they made a move for the best," said Burleson tucking the money back into his pocket.

Money he'll need as he continues rebuilding his dream home.

Click on the red camera icon to watch this Problem Solver Investigation.