SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (FOX 13) - As Corey Brundage leaned against the broken-down car and waited endlessly for a tow truck, he had a brainstorm.
"There is a button that I can press and I can get a taxi in two minutes. But when I really need help and I am stranded on the side of the road, there's no button,” he asked himself. “Where is the button for that?"
Brundage has gone on to create Honk, the app that promises to do for calling a tow truck what Uber did for hailing a cab.
Honk says it has partnered with 40,000 tow trucks (as many as rival AAA) that have installed its app and are available on a moment’s notice.
Now, consumers who download the Honk app can summon one of those trucks. Brundage says Honk aims to provide service within 15 minutes.
Honk differs from services like AAA, which have offered towing services for decades. Honk does not charge an annual fee. Instead, drivers pay each time they need service. Honk takes a cut connecting stranded drives and hungry tow trucks.
Brundage says consumers rarely need towing, so paying only when you need service is less costly than paying for an annual insurance policy of sorts.
"We can save the customer 50 percent, we can pay the tow company double, and we can still make money in between,” Brundage said. “That's how broken this industry is."
Tow operator Jose Elias, with Riker’s Towing in Orlando, says he’s outfitted his entire fleet with Honk.
“All the drivers have the app on their phones,” he said. “It’s like playing Candy Crush.”
Elias said Honk presents a win-win-win.
"It's an awesome deal," he said.
But Honk is not for everyone. If your car is a clunker that regularly requires roadside assistance, an annual-fee service like AAA is a much better deal. AAA coverage starts at $66 – which is far cheaper than some tow jobs.
Brundage poses a question.
“How many times have you really used it?"