A towing company is facing a civil suit for gouging customers. (Photo: WPXI.com)

Towing company under fire, accused of gouging customers

A man accused of gouging customers for thousands of dollars is now facing a civil lawsuit after criminal charges were withdrawn by the District Attorney Thursday.

Brian Haenze, the owner Tag Towing and Collision, learned in court Thursday that Liberty Mutual Insurance is coming after him.

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“They’ve tried to sue civilly before,” Haenze told Channel 11. “It’s completely false. You cannot tell somebody what they can charge in America.”

Pittsburgh Police Auto Squad detectives said they have a file of complaints against Haenze and other towing companies for what they refer to as “deceptive business practices.”

Detective Paul Rotor said those practices mainly involve “holding the victims hostage.”

Haenze told Channel 11 he does not hold the vehicles for days at a time without customers being able to reach him, saying they know where he is and how to reach him.

Currently, there are no laws that say what tow companies can charge to take cars and store them, but State Representative Dom Costa is working to pass laws that would regulate that.

Erin Dixon, one of the witnesses in the case against Haenze, works at a dealership where she said many of her customers told her they have paid four-figure tow bills.

“Hopefully, the insurance companies will get involved and we can start curbing the tow truck drivers from charging these outrageous fees," Dixon said.

Rotor said legislation is “needed to help officers deal with these companies on the street.” 

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