Why is a “simple winch-out” so expensive?
The main reason that a “simple winch-out” is so expensive is that it is often NOT a simple winch-out, even though the customer claims that it is or was. There were many expenses above and beyond the actual winching. On a recent job, these additional services included:
• the call-out fee,
• mileage to and from scene,
• safety procedures including putting out cones to protect the operator working on the side of the highway,
• digging in the snow to reach a safe attachment point after the vehicle had been there for a number of hours and the snow had set up around it,
• winching (not yanking) the vehicle out of ditch,
• working parallel to traffic, but perpendicular to the casualty so as not to block traffic and/or put personnel and equipment at risk of injury, damage, and/or causing a secondary accident,
• loading the vehicle onto the tow truck and since the keys were not present, the vehicle could not be put into Neutral, and the wheels would not turn, using skates and additional time to load and unload,
• towing the vehicle to the customer’s location and then to the storage yard, and
• a significant amount of stand-by time.
There are also expenses involved in running a business and operating a commercial vehicle including:
• establishment of the business, buildings, and property,
• communications so that the business can be reached at any time and between base and trucks,
• the constant availability of service,
• repair and maintenance of the commercial vehicles so as to be able to always respond and pass inspections by the state,
• advertising so that the business can be found to request service, and
A non-commercial vehicle which was in the area could have jerked the vehicle out of the ditch with a strap, chain, or cable by:
• not having a long distance to drive to and from the scene,
• working in the traffic lane of the highway and accepting the risk of being hit,
• not worrying about using attachment points which might be damaged if pulled upon,
• not bothering to tow the vehicle or arrange for payment, just pulling it out of the ditch,
• not having the expense of operating a commercial vehicle,
• not having the insurance to cover any damages which they may cause, and
• not having the expense of operating a business.
To equate the price and costs of a professional tower performing a recovery to the costs of a non-commercial truck jerking a vehicle out of the ditch is not sensible or logical. If an individual does not have the motor club or insurance coverage and can not afford professional services, then they may want to consider accepting the risks and possible additional expenses by having a friend with a non-commercial vehicle help them, but they need to be aware of the risks and understand that if there are damage, injuries or even a death, they will have little recourse. If they have motor club or insurance coverage, they will not be reimbursed for the services performed by a non-professional.