Final Agreement Sealed in Storm Tow Price Gouging Allegations
APK Towing – the Toms River firm accused of grossly overcharging Seaside Heights superstorm victims to reclaim cars and boats its drivers pulled in the aftermath – reaches final terms with the state that involves about 50 unclaimed vehicles and vessels.
The company came under public fire and state scrutiny after a spate of complaints in the days immediately following Sandy. A November 20 agreement with New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa required owners to return about 70 vehicles and vessels at no charge. However, the terms didn’t take into account anyone who paid APK before that date.
According to a statement from Chiesa’s office, it is presumed that the unclaimed units are either beyond repair or covered by insurance claims. Owners will be notified of a 21-day window to reclaim their properties. Any still remaining will be scrapped, and the proceeds will go to those who paid prior to November 20th.
“We did not want these consumers, already victims of Hurricane Sandy, to be victimized again,” Chiesa said in a prepared statement. “They did nothing wrong and Division of Consumer Affairs investigators worked diligently to resolve this matter and allow these storm survivors to move forward without this unnecessary burden.”
The consent order requires APK to adhere to New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act and Predatory Towing Act and to refrain from offering or selling merchandise at excessive prices during a state of emergency and for 30 days after the declaration is lifted.
State officials agreed to suspend APK’s $15,669 payment for investigative costs and vacate it after one year, but reinstating it if the company fails to abide fully by the agreement.
Anyone who suspects being cheated by a merchant can find information at http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov or by calling toll-free in New Jersey, 1-800-242-5846.