Car Rental Company Allegedly Added Fees Without Consent of Customers

Greater than 800 complaints over the past three years pertaining to questionable issues of sales practices, contracts and billing were sent to the Better Business Bureau about Payless Car Rental — and a proposed class action lawsuit may be filed against the rental car company due to questions about added fees, according to this Facebook Internet web site.

Car Rental Company Allegedly Added Fees Without Consent of Customers

“Payless has used deceptive business practices in order to lure customers into their shop to rent their vehicles”, said Greg Kohn — who is one of the lawyers of the plaintiffs who filed this lawsuit against Payless Car Rental and its parent company, Avis Budget Group — according to this article written by Sandra Temko of ABC News. “They use low rates online to get people to use them over other rental agencies, but when you get there, they slam you with additional fees.”

In one example in which one of the plaintiffs of the lawsuit was expecting to pay $217.00, the final bill was $528.00 with charges for insurance and roadside service protection, which the plaintiff did not want or need because he already had his own coverage.

In an investigative report, producers for ABC News rented four vehicles from Payless Car Rental in New York and New Jersey — and although two of the four rentals had no fees added to the final bill, their findings included:

  • One car whose four tires considered dangerous during a standard inspection of the vehicle, as they were bald and had holes; and one of the tires was deemed “a blowout waiting to happen” — a full refund of the rental rate was offered by the rental facility
  • Despite asking for a car with no extra charges, a contract that included a charge of $29.00 per day for loss damage waiver insurance and $5.99 per day for roadside service protection; and the producers were told by a representative behind the counter “You accepted the total” and “It comes with it” even though the fees are optional — and they were also told that if the insurance is removed, the rate increases by triple the amount

Not the First Time?

“Some plaintiffs, according to the New Jersey lawyers who brought the case, were charged as much as $185 for fuel, even after bringing the car back with a full tank of gas”, according to this article written by David Segal of The New York Times. “When these and other renters complained, they were told to call a Payless number and open a ticket with the help desk. But here’s the thing about Payless’s help desk: It doesn’t help. The lawyers say Payless representatives routinely sent a perfunctory message saying, in effect, Tough luck: You owe the money. Pay it.”

Jonathan Weinberg — who is the founder of AutoSlash, which is a service that searches for lower car rental rates on which I first reported when it was launched in 2010 — tends to concur in this article: “The class action lawsuit certainly has merit based on the extensive negative feedback we have received from Payless customers over the years. One of the challenges facing the plaintiffs will be that a signed contract is often hard to dispute. While the lawsuit makes numerous claims that optional services were added without customer authorization (a claim we have absolutely no doubts about), the fact remains that the rental contracts do show the customer having signed for said services as evidenced in the filing. The key will be to prove that customers were intentionally misled in order to get them to sign the contracts as written, an assertion which the lawsuit clearly alleges.”

Coincidence?

As with Payless Car Rental, Avis Budget Group is also the parent company of Budget Rent A Car, which was accused of overcharging its customers in British Columbia for minor damage to vehicles back in 2012; and customers of Budget Rent a Car were left feeling deceived and misled in 2014 after being billed for the full cost for damage to their rental vehicles despite being sold coverage by a franchise group in British Columbia in the event their rental vehicles are involved in an accident — totaling in some cases thousands of dollars.

13 Tips on What You Can Do to Prevent From Being Scammed by a Rental Car Company

In addition to comparison shopping when renting a car and being sure to reserve the vehicle you want to rent in advance for the best rate, please be sure to read this article I wrote pertaining to 13 Tips on What You Can Do to Prevent From Being Scammed by a Rental Car Company to best protect yourself in the future when renting a car — which includes:

  1. Do You Need to Purchase Insurance?
  2. Ensure That You Are Covered
  3. Check the Policies of the Facility From Which You Rent
  4. Inspect the Vehicle
  5. Check the Vehicle for Any Damage — No Matter How Minor
  6. Report Any Potential Anomalies for Which You Could Be Charged
  7. Get Official Acknowledgement of Your Findings
  8. Avoid Cleaning Fees
  9. Thoroughly Test the Equipment of the Vehicle
  10. Obey All Traffic Laws
  11. Report Damage as Soon as Possible
  12. Stand Your Ground and Do Not Waiver
  13. Routinely Check Your Credit Card Statement

Summary

Representatives of the Better Business Bureau claim to have received greater than 800 complaints pertaining to Payless Car Rental during the past three years; and the rental car company has earned an F rating from the organization, which is urging attorneys general in four states — California, Florida, New Jersey and Oklahoma — to investigate Payless and its parent company, Avis Budget Group.

I have never rented from Payless Car Rental; but although they were not exactly rampant and blatant, I have had problems with my experiences renting from both Avis Rent A Car System — with which I spent 17 months to finally receive the 4,500 Hyatt Gold Passport points which I had rightfully earned — and Budget Rent a Car, through which I once returned a car to the Los Angeles International Airport location; and they charged me substantially extra for damages so minor that they were not even worth mentioning. Fortunately, my employer at that time paid for the rental and the damages — which were not even caused by me, by the way — but that does not render the practice any less egregious.

By the way, these problems are not isolated to the companies of Avis Budget Group, as I have had issues with other rental car companies — such as Alamo Rent A Car, Dollar Rent A Car, and Thrifty Car Rental — from whom I have not patronized since they were not resolved in my favor…

…so protect yourself and read those aforementioned 13 tips on what you can do to prevent from being scammed by a rental car company.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

2 thoughts on “Car Rental Company Allegedly Added Fees Without Consent of Customers”

  1. DaninMCI says:

    Rental car companies are the worst. Out of all of the travel I do and travel planning I do I hate renting cars the most. If they aren’t trying to nickle and dime you on airport facility fees and taxes they are trying to rip you off with extra toll fees, dynamic currency fees (even when you opt out), etc. etc. It just goes on and on.
    Congress is trying to roll back transparency laws on airlines but what they should be doing is moving these same requirements over to hotel and rental car bookings.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I completely agree with you, DaninMCI — especially the part about requiring car rental agencies to be subject to the same pricing transparency laws under which airlines must abide.

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