Posted by: NEED TO KNOW | 2004/02/16


I know this is not the right place to ask but could anoyne help me please.
My little brother had an accident with my car early in January, so he got the car towed to a tow company's yard.
He is at technikon so does not have any money. They did not explain the terms and conditions of them keeping the car in storage. It apparently now costs something like 5 to 6 thousand rand to get my ca back, which he does not have. I was away overseas when this happened and he was too afraid to tell my parents about the accident. Thankfully he did not hit another car! Is there anyone we can talk to?
Does the tow company have a right to keep my car?

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Our expert says:
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Dear Need to Know,
You really need the advice of a good lawyer, which could save you a lot of money in the end. In my experience, tow truck companies, and areas of the car repair business can be appalling predators, and rely on trapping people into such situations, assuming you won't be aware of their "small print", and never pointing out the alternatives ( such as towing the car to somewhere like your home, where it could remain at no cost, till repairs could be arranged.
I don't know that the legal details are, but I suspect a good lawyer could argue usefully that no terms and conditions can be assumed to have been accepted by him, unless they were fully explained a the time ; though they may have got him, while still socked by the accident, to sign a form with loads of small print. If the law was sensible and actually meaningfully intended to protect people ( a silly idea, I know ) there would be a requirement that in such situations all such conditions should be fully explained in detail and with all costs explicit in full, before they could be considered binding.

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