Erroneously charged for pre-paid fuel option-Executive Car Rental

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Mar 12, 2019
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#1
Hello, please see below an active email thread with customer care at Executive Car Rental, regarding an error with the pre-paid fuel option. I've read the guidelines on your website for resolving a consumer complaint, and wonder if you have any other suggestions for a successful resolution. Thank you! Ann

On Tue, Mar 12, 2019 at 8:16 AM Ann Fisher < xxxxxxxxx/email]> wrote:
Hello,
My name is Ann Fisher, and my rental agreement number is XxxxxxxxThe invoice date is 03/04/19.

When my husband and I rented the car on 02/28/19, the customer service rep said the pre-paid fuel option means "topping off the tank", and he also said the gas at the airport is less expensive than outside of the airport. When we returned the car the fuel was noted at 3/4 full, but our invoice included a $59.80 charge for pre-paid fuel, 20 gallons at $2.99. Local gas prices were $2.45. We never would have agreed to the pre-paid fuel option if we had been accurately informed that meant buying a full tank of gas @ $2.99 per gallon.

On March 6 I explained the situation to Najay in customer service, and she said the pre-paid fuel option was paying for a full tank, regardless of the fuel level. She said she was making notes about our experience, for billing to consider when they determine the amount we'll receive back from our $250 deposit.

The customer service rep at the counter said he had been on the job for two weeks which may account for the erroneous explanation of the pre-paid fuel option. Regardless, he misstated the pre-paid fuel option and the price of the fuel compared to outside the airport. We never would have agreed to the pre-paid fuel option if we had been accurately informed that meant buying a full tank of gas @ $2.99 per gallon.

We would like a refund of $228.34, which includes $44.85 for the fuel overcharge.
Thank you,
Ann and Matt Fisher

On March 12, 2019 at 9:02 AM Customer Care < [email]customercare@executivecarrental.com
> wrote:
Hi Mrs. Fisher- Thank you for your email and for bringing this to our attention. The pre-paid option cannot be removed once services have been used. The way our pre-paid fuel service works is you get the car on full and bring the fuel level back at your discretion and you do not get refunded for unused fuel. I'm so sorry for the confusion and inconvenience, I will get this escalated to upper management to ensure proper training. Thank you and have a great day.

Mary
Best Regards,
Customer Care,



On Tue, Mar 12, 2019 at 11:02 AM Ann Fisher < /email]> wrote:
Hi Mary,

Thank you for your quick response. While I appreciate the escalation of this issue to ensure proper training, that doesn't solve the issue of my unsatisfactory and costly experience as a customer.

To clarify, the impact of the customer service rep's lack of knowledge and inexperience wasn't an inconvenience for us, it cost us an additional and unexpected $44.85. Explaining the pre-paid fuel option after the fact doesn't solve this issue. I'm not asking for a refund on the unused fuel, I'm asking for a refund because of the customer service rep's mistake. We should probably be asking for a refund of $59.80, but are accounting for the fuel that we did use.

When you escalate this issue, would you please ask how you can compensate me in cash for the $44.85, and not in a discount or promotional offer on a future rental.

Thank you,

Ann

On March 12, 2019 at 10:12 AM Customer Care < [email]customercare@executivecarrental.com
> wrote:
Hello- I will call you to further discuss this matter.

Mary
Best Regards,
Customer Care,

On Tue, Mar 12, 2019 at 11:29 AM Ann Fisher < fisherbiz@comcast.net> wrote:
Hi Mary,
Thanks for offering to discuss this by phone. I know we're both super busy, so please let me suggest that in that call if we'd discuss how to process a refund great, please call at your convenience. If you think it would help to tell me directly that you can't process a refund, it won't, and I respectfully ask that you escalate my issue and request for a cash refund.

Thanks for your patience in working toward a satisfactory resolution. I do appreciate it.
-Ann

On March 12, 2019 at 10:53 AM Customer Care < customercare@executivecarrental.com> wrote:
Okay at this time you aren't owed back any additional refunds because you did agree to purchase this service at the rate that was offered to you, but i will see what upper management says. Thank you.

Mary
Best Regards,
Customer Care,

On Tue, Mar 12, 2019 at 12:12 PM Ann Fisher < fisherbiz@comcast.net> wrote:
Hi Mary, please let me clarify, we did not agree to the $59.80 for the pre-paid fuel option. Based on the customer service reps explanation, we agreed to "topping off the tank" which would have been 5 gallons at a rate of $2.45 per gallon. Please communicate that fact to upper management.
Thanks again,
Ann

On March 12, 2019 at 11:38 AM Customer Care <customercare@executivecarrental.com> wrote:
Okay. Thank you for the clarification.
Mary
Best Regards,
Customer Care,

Ann Fisher[[/email]>
11:52 AM

To
Customer Care
Mary, thank you for your quick response, help and patience.

I appreciate it.











































Note : edited by moderator to remove email address and rental number.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Mar 15, 2018
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#2
I'm curious to see what the advocates in here say about this. I'm just an interested reader, not one of the advocates...but my impression is that you will not get a refund.

No car rental company offers the option of "topping off" the tank at lower rates than a gas station. That's not how the pre-paid fuel option works, and I can't imagine that the company is going to refund you simply because you didn't understand that. In fact it's right there in the name of it - "pre-paid fuel option".

The way it works is, you pay for a full tank up-front, so you don't have to fill it up before you return it. The idea is that it's supposedly a convenience to you, since you will get a full tank of gas at a lower price than you would pay for gas at a station, and you don't have to hunt for gas station before returning it. But it rarely works in the customer's favor - you only save money if you bring the car bank nearly empty. Any gas remaining in tank, you paid for it and you don't get it back. That's why it's "pre-paid".

If you were expecting to only have to pay for what needed to be added to the tank to fill it up - clearly that's not "pre-paid". You pre-paid for a tank of fuel, and that's what they charged you for. Think about it - why would they even sell that? How does it benefit them to sell you gas at such a low price? The reason it works for them is because most people bring the car back with gas left in the tank that they pre-paid for, so the rental agency gets to keep some of the gas that you bought. Get it?

You are claiming that the agent at the counter explained it wrong, so you agreed to it. But you have no proof of this - it's a he-said-she-said thing. What they have on their side is a CONTRACT that you signed. If you read it, you will see that it spells the pre-paid option out.

I'm sorry to say that I highly doubt you will win this one. Lack of understanding of the contract you signed is not going to be a good enough reason for them to refund something that you agreed to purchase by signing that contract.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#3
I’m with LeeAnn. There is no topping off - they either refill it for you or you bring it back full and they post the rates you will be charged at the desk when you pick up the car. And you ste never charged the going rate for the gas- it’s always higher. But where are you getting the refund of $228?

However because you were given incorrect information, I would contact Executives at the company. Fill out this research request:

https://www.elliott.org/research/

Once you have it, use the information in this post to write to the executives;

https://forum.elliott.org/threads/resolving-consumer-complaints-and-developing-a-paper-trail.8903/
 
Mar 15, 2018
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#4
Just to be helpful, here's some information I pulled up about the pre-paid fuel option (which works the same at every car rental agency):

*********************
Why you should never use the pre-paid fuel option:
  1. You have to return a completely empty tank. When you prepay for the gas, you're paying for the full tank. If you bring it back a quarter full or even 90 percent full, there's no refund for the gas you left in the tank. If you don't use every last drop, you're paying for gas you didn't use. Anything more than bringing it back on fumes is free money for them and a higher average price per gallon for you.
  2. You have to trust them on the tank size. Tank sizes vary—sometimes even within a given make and model. When the delivery truck rolls in with a load of new cars, the fleet manager loads all the information about that car into the computer—often quickly, and sometimes making assumptions about the car's specifications. If they are lazy or make a mistake, you can be overcharged for extra gallons if you prepay.
  3. The tax man wants his share. Every state, county, city, and airport has staked their claim over rental car revenue, and gas is no exception. If you buy the prepaid gas, that 10-cent-per-gallon "cheaper than pump price" rate can get inflated by 50 cents per gallon or more—just from rental taxes. Suddenly, it doesn't look like such a good deal.
  4. The "pump price" might be a lie. That sign on the rental counter showing current local gas prices might be out of date. Or it might have used the closest gas station to the airport (which rarely has a competitive price, for obvious reasons), or the station with the highest prices in the area. It's rarely the cheapest gas available, especially if you have a warehouse club membership. Instead, check GasBuddy for a true comparison.
  5. Gas might be cheaper where you're dropping off. If you're doing a one-way rental, be sure to check gas prices in your drop-off area. Prepaid gas prices are based on wherever you pick up the car, so don't overpay if you're picking up in an expensive gas locale.
  6. Prepaid prices don't include credit card rewards. Some credit cards offer a very generous bonus on fuel fill-ups, be it a nice 5-percent rebate at the pump or double or triple points when filling up. If you buy the gas from the rental company, you won't earn those bonus rewards.
When pre-paying for gas makes sense:

If you're the kind of person who dashes for the airport at the very last minute, or you know you'll be rushing right from a meeting to your flight, then prepaying for gas is often a better deal than risking that you can't refill the tank before you return the car. In that case, the rental car company will fill the tank at a punitive rate (which can sometimes be $10 per gallon), even if you're only three or four gallons short of a full tank.

*********************

Car rental companies started offering this option decades ago, so this is not a new thing. But if you are new to renting cars, that would explain why you didn't understand how they worked. And it's not in their best interest to explicitly explain it, either...trust me, they are banking on some customers not grasping it! But they've got that signed contract, so you really have no recourse here.

It's a tough lesson to learn. Especially knowing that you basically gave them 3/4 of a tank of gas. I do feel for you. But on the bright side, now you know and you won't make this mistake again. Hey, I wish all of my travel lessons-learned only cost ME $59! :) Chalk this one up to a learning experience.
 
Mar 12, 2019
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#5
Thank you Neil for removing personal information in my post.
The refund of $228 is our payment + deposit - fees.

I understand your's and LeAnne's perspective. While my hindsight is certainly clear, my issue is with the misinformation from the rep. We'll see what they say, it was worth an ask.

Thank you for your responses.
 
Likes: LeeAnneC
Mar 12, 2019
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#9
LeeAnn, thank you for posting the additional information about the pre-paid fuel option. Hopefully it will be helpful for others!
Not a first world problem, but I always tell our kids, "$40 is $40". ;)