Drivers charged $95 but towing contract says $65

By Laura Geller - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – A huge debate is underway about how much you have to pay if you get towed in the city of Richmond.  Some of you may have been over-charged and Monday night, city officials met to try to figure out what to do about it.

The debate is over thirty bucks.  This Spring the city and Seibert's towing company agreed to increase towing fees to $95.  But a clerical error led to the contract documents still reflecting the old amount of $65.

Attorneys explained a contract is seen as a so-called meeting of the minds, and despite the paperwork that reads 65 bucks, what was discussed and agreed upon is a fee of 95 dollars.

"None of us caught it," said city Chief Administrative Officer Byron Marshall.  "It was an error. Who made the error? We all did.  But we all were clear on what the intent was."

But Richmond resident C. Wayne Taylor said that's not good enough.

"Who understood this and who said that is absolutely irrelevant," he explained.  "The city and the towing company signed the contract."

The mayor's administration is calling an ordinance to modify the contract documents, a housekeeping measure.

Some have called for refunds but NBC12 found out, legally the city can't give back the money.

"We're not allowed to give a refund because in fact that would be a gift," said Marshall.

Now members of a council committee are calling on Seibert's towing to refund customers the thirty dollars.  No one from the company came to Monday's meeting but Councilman Chris Hilbert is hoping they'll get some answers before the full council votes.

"To me it would show a lot of good faith on their part to do that," he said.

Citing its original intent, the public safety committee passed the ordinance which will reflect the new $95 fee onto the full council.  A formal vote is expected next week.

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