Let's start this off with saying that this will be a longer one.
I'm 28 and been in the roadside and towing industry for almost 8 years. This means I started very young in the industry, most companies have problems insuring driver's under 25. I got around this by sub-contracting as a roadside tech. Then took that experience to major companies fleet who was less limited. And subsequently took that experience back to my current company, which started to evolve into a tow company itself while I was gone. Now I tell you this only so you can understand that I have worked hard for a long time to get where I am, I'm experienced, well trained, the most senor driver and frankly I'm very good at what I do. I'm very proud of all of this.
Why? Because through all of this I was able to help grow the company and myself to a point where I actually made enough to dig my girlfriend and myself out of a cycle of evictions and juggling utilities. As of 2 years ago Ive been able to keep the lights on, buy a car and enjoy small luxury's like somewhat updated phones and a new computer. I'm not saying this for sympathy, life is hard af and again, Im very proud to be where I am. So where's the issue? Well your going to know how I get paid and my liabilities.
Most tow drivers are paid on commission, I make 30% of the tow bill. And $100 a week salary, this part is not usual. All in all it's not bad I've known drivers to make 25-35%. Sounds great right work more make more. Well… Yes and no. Some account are worth more than others, my best jobs are moving storage containers and wrecked rentals. I can make several hundred a day. The worst are the general roadside calls, they can pay as little as $34 a tow to the company, but some times it's all I have to do, because of this we have to keep these roadside companies happy to maintain the contract. These companies are my issue and caused my slight snap this morning.
I am liable for damages I cause which is something I accept and understand, in my career I have paid probably 6k in damages some my fault such as truck tires I've curbed and a door I peeled back. Others not, such as fake damage claims that I had insufficient evidence to counteract and planned damage. Through all of this I have to weigh each call on a risk to reward basis. Also factoring in the companies interest. There are a few methods I can use to affect these factors such as calling in addition funding or charging the customer. For example I walked away from a Porsche yesterday morning because when I arrived it was not neutral capable and the customer mentioned 3 times how's expensive the car was.
Here lately and this is the issue, the roadside companies aren't paying out all the time, they will refuse the invoice for incorrect authorizations on their end, they have reduced customer reps so I'm sitting on the phone some times for an hour or more to add equipment, which if you don't verify before you unhook the vehicle you'll likely be denied. So I'm spending more time on the same calls. Cars and repairs are being worth more and more which is increasing my possible cost. Combining all of this with a driver shortage in the area and increased work load. I'm effectively being forced to focus on lower paying work in order to maintain our primary accounts. All in the mean time cost of living is rising. My power bill more than doubled thanks to a legal monopoly which I'm not even going to get started on. Add on to this COVID, which put me out of work for 2 weeks already costing me quite a bit. It's getting to the point that the risk vs reward isn't worth it anymore.
This morning I had a customer take her keys to the repair facility before I picked up the car and I freaked out to the point I was ready to fight a guy who honked at me at a light this morning. The vehicle was locked, in a small parking lot with 2 other vehicles on either side. Something I can handle but requires me to unlock the vehicle, put it into neutral without the key, then winch the vehicle out half way, put skates under the front tires which I can't steer. Winch the car again to turn it towards me and then up the bed. All while making sure I dot damage any of the 3 cars in the area. I tried calling in for additional funds and got hung up on twice. ALL of this I'm expected to deal with for a rate of $34. NO, NOT ME ANYMORE. But now I'm out an hour of my time for nothing. Maybe a Goa (gone on arrival) for $25 to the company. Customer doesn't want to pay anything because she pays her insurance for service. None of this is unusual anymore and that's why I got so angry. I can't deal anymore with my time becoming worth less and less. I can afford less risk now because of cost of living. I'm angry from being forced to walk away from work because the risk is to high for the same job I used to be happy to do. I like helping people and i don't like leaving without doing so.
I just don't know how to cope anymore. It like I'm literally watching myself make less though I'm not. If I leave the industry I trained for I won't be able to support myself. So I'm stuck working more and incurring more and more liability to make the same amount to get less far. I need the days I make a few hundred, but can't do it without the others, which I don't think I can deal with much more. My worth is going down and it's driving me crazy.