MADISON COUNTY, MS (WLBT) – A Rankin county mother accused a Jackson wrecker company of price gouging her teenage son and his friend.
The wrecker service responded that there was no wrongdoing, just the cost of business.
"I seen a guy stuck on the side of the road and seen him sitting by a tree, and I called Ryan he was right behind me and said 'Let's to push this dude out,'" said 17-year-old James Dean.
Dean and his friend Ryan Johnson said taking pity on a stranger started an evening that taught them an expensive lesson about helping others.
Both 17 year olds were on their way to deer camp in Kosciusko Friday when they spotted a green Ford Explorer just off the Natchez Trace beyond mile marker 114.
They said they tried to push the Explorer out, but they both ended up being stuck in the mud and stuck with hefty towing fees as well.
"The first price that the guy gave me was $120 dollars. Then when I was calling my mother I was told that I had to pay $350.00 to get pulled out," said Johnson.
The teenagers said they were about 100 feet off the trace roadway.
"It was $350 and the tow truck guy asked me when he pulled me a little bit he said 'You think you can get out?' and I said 'You can pull me all the way to the road for the $350.00,'" said Dean.
The high school juniors said the unidentified Explorer's driver, who had Triple A Auto Service, was arrested for illegal drugs and drunk driving.
The wrecker service was dispatched to tow his vehicle.
Ryan's mother, Carla Nation, said the wrecker service took advantage of the teenagers who were doing a good deed.
"They told us at the wrecker service that they charged the man that was arrested $900 for pulling his vehicle, then they charged us $350 that's $1,600 for a few hours of work," said Nation.
Magnolia Wrecker and Recovery owner Ann Butts declined to comment on camera but denied the price gouging charges.
She said they are in the Trace Rangers wrecker rotation.
The company provided pictures of the scene.
Butts said the amount charged, $250, is their standard fee of $2 per foot.
The owner said the $350 charge was because the vehicle was so far off the road.
They charged $120 for the service call and $30 for the wench fee.
The business owner said two crews were sent to the site, which was a 40 mile trip.
Butts wanted it noted that neither teenager had ropes nor chains to remove the Explorer, and said if they wanted to push the vehicle they didn't have to drive down to where it was and get stuck.
After speaking with Carla Nation, Butts said the company agreed to refund $200 as a good faith gesture.
"Now to this point they haven't refunded anything of James's, and I haven't gotten my refund yet," added the angry mother.
"We did a good deed for somebody and caught a criminal and then they're gonna charge us $350 for it," said Johnson.
Calls made to the Trace Rangers requesting information and comment have not been returned.
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