Hundreds of consumers accuse car rental company of overcharging – Complaints trigger two lawsuits
May 22, 2013 By Katie LaGrone, CBS NewsChannel 5 WPTV
Frequent rental car users like Dr. Allen Friedman know the drill. “I’ve never had a problem before,” he told the Contact 5 Investigators. Not until he arrived at the rent a car counter during a trip to Denver in 2011.
“They attempted to up-sell me and I was not surprised by that,” he said. Allen says he declined the optional insurance and all the extras, but when he returned the car 9 days later he was taken for a spin when, he says, he was charged $215 for insurance and another $53 for roadside protection. Both options, he says, he declined. “I called Dollar rental right away and told them there must be some mistake,” said Allen. Allen claims Dollar refused to remove the fees that doubled his bill. Allen, who lives on Florida’s west coast, didn’t complain to the state, but the Contact 5 Investigators found plenty who did.
Since 2011, more than 180 consumers have filed complaints with the state Attorney General’s Office about Dollar Rent a Car or Thrifty, which are owned by the same company. Most of the complaints involved optional insurance charges and fees for unpaid tolls. Another 42 complaints were filed against Budget and Avis rental cars. The Florida Attorney General’s office is now investigating the companies.
Read more from CBS NewsChannel 5 WPTV
Sandra McKinnon knew the drill after three trips from Oakland, Calif., to Tulsa, Okla., to visit her elderly father. When she went to pick up a rental car, she would have to decide whether to buy the insurance.
Before her most recent trip last spring, she learned that she was covered through her personal auto policy and her credit card. So she made sure the Dollar Rent a Car clerk with the friendly, back-home demeanor knew she did not want any coverage. “She went back to her big screen, which I could not see, and she clickety-clickety-clicked,” said Ms. McKinnon, a 66-year-old retired nurse practitioner. Then, as the clerk instructed, Ms. McKinnon signed her name on the electronic tablet..
But 15 days later, when she returned the silver Ford Focus, Ms. McKinnon said she was handed a bill for $944, nearly twice what she expected to pay. She was charged an extra $23.95 a day for the loss damage waiver, an option that isn’t technically insurance, but that generally “waives” the renter’s responsibility for loss or damage to the vehicle.
Ever been hit with hidden fees when you rented a car? Charged for insurance you thought you declined? Charged for gas because you did not bring the receipt, even though you filled the tank?
Did you ever pay for prepaid gas only to discover that they charged you for more gas than the gas tank holds? Well you are not alone. Rental companies have been piling on fees designed to bolster their bottom line.
Contact us with your story, so we can investigate. Complete the Dollar Overcharge Contact Request on InvestigativeGuy.com. Mattes is currently advocating on behalf of consumers across the country who allege they are being overcharged for insurance after they decline it. Consumers are taking the company to court. Mattes is currently counsel of record in the case of Friedman v. Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group.
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