The Road to Recovery
Philosophy collided with business and statutes last week after the rates levied by a roadside recovery operator were branded “immoral” by a company staring down the wrong end of a £3,000 bill.
R McDowell Haulage almost needed another recovery operator to revive its boss after 24/7 Recovery and Rescue invoiced the West Yorks operator for dealing with the aftermath of an RTA in Flintshire.
The haulier was unable to send out its preferred recovery company to bring its HGV home and so the police relied on the nearest operator on its contract list to carry out the task.
If you have any knowledge of this sector of the road transport industry you will probably know that the introduction of the Removal, Storage and Disposal of Vehicle Regulations in October 2008 transformed the charges that police-endorsed recovery operators could apply, from the previous flat and flawed fee of £105.
The statutory charges now range from £150 for the recovery of a bike with minor damage up to a heady £6,000 for a smashed up artic.
The application of this ‘matrix’ of charges led to fees trebling almost overnight in many cases, which was fun for the police-agreed recoverer, but probably less so for the recoveree.
So, set against this context £3,000 does not seem over-priced, but Roger McDowell claims that his HGV had only sustained minor damage and that if the accident had occurred nearer to his preferred (non-police contract) recoverer he estimates the cost would have been a third of the bill.
However, 24/7 disagrees, adding that it applied the correct charge laid down by the Home Office; costs which led to McDowell’s cry of immorality.
Enter the Road Haulage Association, which, sitting uncomfortably as it is with members made up of hauliers and recovery operators, must tread a thin line.
Well, perhaps not as thin as you’d think.
Nick Deal, logistics development manager, says the recoverer is often relying on equipment costing £200,000 and therefore £3,000 bills are necessary if the business is to, ahem, recover its investment and make a profit.
There is sense in that, and there is no evidence to suggest 24/7 did anything other than apply the correct fee agreed by the government.
But it still makes you wonder how the majority of operators not on profitable police contracts are surviving if, as McDowell claims, they are not levying the type of charge from which he is now trying to recover.
For further information contact Anton Balkitis or Lucy Wood on 0800 046 3066 or visit the website if you are looking for motoring solicitors.