Many Rental Cars Now Come with Surprising Surcharges

May 07, 2009

Wild industry fees are a ripple effect of the economy

The next time you rent a car, look closely at your bill for new mysterious and absurd line-items: Tire fees, Facilities fees, Energy surcharges, something called a Privilege fee, and hundreds more, according to CNN.com.

Why? You are going to help the rental car industry recoup record losses. Hertz lost $73 million in Q4; Avis lost $121 million.

In the article, the American Car Rental Association, a trade group for the car rental business, says these fees are essential to the industry’s survival. Not only is there no end in sight, there’s no telling what you’ll be charged for tomorrow.

Christopher Elliott
, the story’s author, cautions car renters to be extra aware of things like:

A fee for something that should come with the car


Enterprise
apparently charges renters $2 “tire fee” (reportedly required by the state of Florida) presumably for renting a car with all four tires.

Surcharge on surcharges


A man in Florida found a “privilege fee” on his last car rental, which applied to rentals picked up within 48 hours of flight arrival. I guess for the privilege of being their customer. It may also go under the name “concession recovery fee.”


The stadium tax


Watch out for the $4 “downtown arena” fee on your bill in Kansas City to do your part for the
Sprint Center, and a similar one in Georgia, the latter of which funds a minor league stadium for the Gwinnett Braves.

Other than renting with a vigilance, the best tip was this: pre-pay through sites such as Hotwire.com or Priceline.com, or through an online travel agency that guarantees it rates, without even so much as a “convenience fee” for the added convenience.

Read the entire article here

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