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Car Rental Companies Surprise Customers with Ridiculous Toll Road

The answer to making traveling down toll roads easier and saying good-bye to the long lines of brake lights filled with irritated drivers fumbling for loose change, a thing of the past was; cashless toll roads. For many commuters, license plate-readers and electronic transponders were welcomed with open arms. But, what many failed to think about was, how these cashless toll roads will impact drivers renting cars in unfamiliar cities.

Unfortunately, many of us found out the answer to this question the hard way, by nasty charges left behind on our credit card bill after renting a car. So, for the rest of you who have yet to be greeted with a huge “surprise” fee for driving on toll roads on a rental, keep on reading to find out how you can save your hard-earned money.

In 2011, a class-action law suit was filed against Fox Rent A Car and Violation Management Services, a company contracted by car rental companies to process traffic, toll and parking violations while their cars are being rented. The lawsuit claimed that Fox Rent A Car didn’t give their customers any way to pay for tolls without incurring fees and that both Fox Rent A Car and Violation Management Services “conspired to turn Fox customer’s tolls into an illegal profit center for themselves.” The case settled out of court quickly but as the number of cashless toll roads rise, so do the complaints about their ridiculous fees imposed by car rental companies.

The result? More lawsuits. In 2012, car rental companies Hertz, Avis, and electronic toll payment service company, PlatePass, were slapped with class-action lawsuits. Hertz and PlatePass settled in 2013 and were ordered to provide $11 million in refunds to consumers.

As a result of these class-action suits, many rental car companies have clarified any fees their customers can incur while renting their cars and while using cashless toll systems. Many consumers however, still feel ripped off by car rental company’s toll fees, mostly because they aren’t given a choice and they have to pay for them.

Below are some of the toll fees charged by some car rental companies. What do you think of their fees?

•    National, Enterprise, and Alamo: $2.95 daily fee for their TollPass Program, and up to $14.75 per rental period, this on top of the cost of the tolls.
•    Budget and Avis: expect a $2.95 daily convenience fee for their e-Toll system. This fee is applied every day, even on days when the driver doesn’t drive on a toll road. Drivers are also expected to pay for tolls they’ve driven through at the “cash toll rate,” and not the discounted fee normally given to subscribers. Fees max out at $14.75 per rental car, per month.
•    Hertz: Hertz charges a $4.95 daily administrative fee for drivers using the PlatePass System. This fee is charged every day, even on days when drivers choose not to drive on toll roads. Fees max out at $27.75 per rental car, per month. However, Hertz also offers a Toll Day Pass; for $9.90 – $14.30 daily, drivers can be covered for all tolls and fees. This comes with a promise from Hertz that customers “will never receive any subsequent toll charges or administration fees.”
•    Dollar and Thrifty: In certain states, these two companies are using a system called Pass24, a flat-fee, prepaid toll system. For $5.95 a day or $27.95 a week, customers can prepay for both fees and tolls.
Before renting from any car rental company, it’s important to be familiar with their toll fees to avoid incurring any outrageous fees. Do your homework. Find out if there are any cashless toll roads in the area you are going to be traveling, and if there are, find out if you can do without them. If you can, then you can opt out of the above fees.

It’s also important to contact your car insurance company before traveling to find out what your policy covers. Some auto insurance coverage plans cover policyholders if they are involved in an accident while driving a rental car. If that’s the case, then you can also opt out of the rental company’s add-on insurance. Of course, not all car insurance policies are created equal so be sure to talk to your auto insurance agent first!

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