KGW investigation prompts police review
Salem, Ore.—Oregon State Police plans to remove Discount Towing & Recovery from its non-preference tow list after KGW raised questions about the Salem company.
Donald Duddles, owner of Discount Towing, has a criminal history including drug charges, criminal mischief and attempting to elude a police officer. By law, those six felony convictions should have disqualified Duddles and his company from towing for state police.
“We are currently conducting an internal review on how that happened and to ensure that it won’t happen again,” said Captain Bill Fugate, spokesman for Oregon State Police. “We’re thankful that it was caught.”
Discount Towing is one of nine towing companies on the state police non-preference tow list for a portion of the Salem-area. If a driver breaks down or gets into a wreck and doesn’t say what tow company they want- state troopers would go to the non-preference list. It’s a rotation.
Records show Oregon State Police called Discount Towing about 60 to 70 times per year for vehicle tows.
By law, the company could charge whatever it wanted.
“The Department shall not establish, recommend, or in any way dictate the cost of a non-preference tow conducted by a qualified tow business,” reads the Oregon Administrative Rule.
“That’s kind of the problem. Our hands are tied,” explained Captain Fugate.
Customers paid price for Discount Towing
“I’m sorry. There’s nothing discount about them. It’s hard to say Discount Towing,” explained Gary Anderson.
On May 18, Oregon State troopers had Anderson’s car towed from the roadside along Interstate 5 near Salem. Discount Towing & Recovery hauled the 2008 Honda Accord roughly 17 miles to its storage yard.
The tow company demanded Anderson pay $948 to recover his car. They wanted cash.
“They said the charge is over $900 and you can come get your car,” explained Anderson. “Both me and my father are like, ‘That’s highway robbery. What are you guys doing?’”
Discount Towing later reduced Anderson’s tow fee to $788 but continued to assess storage fees. The company referred any complaints to Oregon State Police.
“Any disputes over the tow would not be with Discount Towing & Recovery at all, but with the Oregon State Patrol, for they are the ones who dispatched the tow,” wrote officer manager Rick Canon of Discount Towing & Recovery in a letter to Anderson.
By law, complaints of unfair charges against tow businesses are referred to the Oregon Attorney General’s Office, not Oregon State Police.
Dozens of complaints against Discount Towing
KGW has uncovered nearly a dozen complaints about Discount Towing & Recovery. Consumers complain they were charged excessive fees of $800, $900, even $1,000 for a tow from a private lot.
Discount Towing did not respond to a request for comment. The company has requested a hearing to appeal its removal from the Oregon State Police non-preference tow list. A date for that hearing has not been set.
Until then, state troopers will continue to call Discount Towing to assist drivers in the Salem-area.
Read more KGW investigations about Discount Towing: