Gotcha toll fee by Budget Car

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Jan 29, 2017
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#1
Dear Chris,

I am an avid reader of your column in the Washington Post since I travel substantially for work and love your column on air travel. Last week I was in Florida with my family and rented a car from Budget. I rented a Dodge SUV on Jan 19th at Orlando Airport (MCO) and declined the use of the Budget toll transponder since I was planning on paying cash on my way to Loews Sapphire Falls resort. But before I know it, I found myself on Route 528 in the SunPass only lane without a chance to pay the toll; I missed paying $2.25 as toll. When I returned my car on Jan 23 to Budget and told the manager Mr. Y what had happened, he said that I will be billed $3.95 per day for the 4 days that I had rented the car because the transponder was activated, plus the missed toll. The rental agreement states a convenience fee of $3.95 each day plus toll. I find this to be extremely unfair and ludicrous.

I would be satisfied if I pay my toll amount ($2.25). On the Sunpass website (https://www.sunpass.com/rentalcar) its states that Sunpass doesn't charge additional fee but its the rental car company who does it. "Cameras take a photo of the rental car's license plate as it goes through the toll lane and sends a bill for the tolls to the rental company's tolling program vendor. The vendor collects the toll plus applicable service fees from the customer's credit card, and pays the toll to the road agency. The service fees are retained by the vendor, not the toll road". At most I should be charged for one day's worth convenience fee and NOT 4 days which is the entire rental period.

Most sincerely,
IH
 
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Neil Maley

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#2
I rented from Budget while I was in Florida and I was only charged for the days that I actually used the toll road. I had the car 5 days and was on the toll road twice - once going and once coming back. I wasn't charged for every day, only twice. I was charged for the toll plus $3.95 fee per day.

I found this information posted on the Sunpass website too. I am not sure that you can do anything else -

If you want to make yourself feel better, Budget has just about the lowest fees for the Sunpass too:

https://www.sunpass.com/rentalcar

You declined the service and then couldn't make it over to the cash lane - I am not sure why you would blame Budget for that.
 
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jsn55

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Dec 26, 2014
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#3
This is one of the new ways to cheat your customers that rental car companies have come up with, Iqbal. You rent a car, they often say nothing about tolls/charges, you end up in the wrong lane and incur a toll. Bingo! They charge you the fee for every day of the rental. It's just disgusting. If I weren't active on this forum, I'd never know to check on this before I depart with the car, especially in Florida. We got caught in this several years ago out of Orlando before there were gizmos in the cars; no way to tell we were in a special lane until it was too late. Alamo charged us $15 for administration, and the state of Florida billed us for $1. You can bet I informed the state of Florida that they were insulting the tourists who were spending money in their state, not to mention that it cost them probably $10 to send the letter. I received a very nice response, but no dollar back.

I would write Budget a letter (via email), explaining that you made an error and believe that you should pay that fee for ONE day. Ask them to give you credit for the other days. Don't do any preaching or complaining, don't state that their policy is practically dishonest, but be very polite. Give them a week to respond and if they don't, or give the wrong answer, use our Company Contacts to send the letter to each executive up the beanstalk, waiting a week between each submission.

If all travellers start raising the flag about these unethical practices, pretty soon they might stop. But they're raking in so much additional revenue, it will probably take some government interference to get them to straighten out. Good luck and please let us know the outcome.
 

Neil Maley

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#4
That would be fine except our writer admits he told them when he rented he didn't want it.

Florida is the worst state to rent a car through because of those toll roads. Some are toll roads, some are not. You would have to be in the very left speed lane to go into the auto charge lanes.

The Sunpass website says:
Most major rental car companies now offer their customers the option of including tolls with the credit card used to rent the vehicle. These rental car customers can use Florida's toll roads and not worry about carrying cash or stopping to pay for tolls. They can breeze through the SunPass ONLY, E-PASS ONLY and LeeWay ONLY toll lanes throughout the Sunshine State

So if you opt out of this, what else can the car rental company do?
 
Jan 29, 2017
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#5
I rented from Budget while I was in Florida and I was only charged for the days that I actually used the toll road. I had the car 5 days and was on the toll road twice - once going and once coming back. I wasn't charged for every day, only twice. I was charged for the toll plus $3.95 fee per day.

I found this information posted on the Sunpass website too. I am not sure that you can do anything else -

If you want to make yourself feel better, Budget has just about the lowest fees for the Sunpass too:

https://www.sunpass.com/rentalcar

You declined the service and then couldn't make it over to the cash lane - I am not sure why you would blame Budget for that.
I dont have a problem paying for one day's toll and even one day worth of convenience fee. But paying all four days of the rental period when I did not use the three other days of convenience fee is absolutely wrong. I pay for the one time use not 4 days. Period!
 
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Neil Maley

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#6
I dont have a problem paying for one day's toll and even one day worth of convenience fee. But paying all four days of the rental period when I did not use the three other days of convenience fee is absolutely wrong. I pay for the one time use not 4 days. Period!
Wait until you get your bill and see - as I said, I was only charged for the two days I used the toll road so hopefully the same will happen to you.
 

Carol Phillips

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Dec 28, 2014
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#7
We, too, have been stuck by the rental car transponder issue in Florida. And in Colorado, for that matter. If I recall correctly, the highway leading out of Denver Airport is a toll road so there's not a lot of choice in the matter.

What gets me is the unmanned toll booths: if you run out of exact change you have to pass thru the gate and later receive the toll bill AND the rental car transponder fee, adding insult to injury.

I will now step off my soapbox.

@Iqbal Hamza - please follow @jsn55 's suggestion above and write to Budget, using our Company Contacts shown above: http://elliott.org/company-contacts/avis-budget/

Start with the customer service email, allow a week for response, then escalate up the chain of contacts as necessary. Best of luck ...
 
Likes: jsn55

jsn55

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Dec 26, 2014
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#9
Check your final receipt when you returned the car to see if they added extra charges. If not, you won't get a 'bill', but a charge, perhaps undocumented, will appear on the statement of the CC you used to pay for the rental. You can check that online or wait for your statement. Hopefully, Neil's right.
 
Jan 29, 2017
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#12
Neil,
I paid cash for 3 days I used the toll road except for the first day when the signs were not obvious to me. So you mean to say I should pay Budget for all four days (1+3) even though I paid the toll to the toll booth collector for 3 days. Wouldn't this be double-dipping? I will contact Budget customer service.
 

Neil Maley

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#13
If that is their policy you agreed to it when you took the car.

You can certainly write to the Budget executives one by one once a week and appeal the extra charge. The question is what did the agreement you sign say?
 

Neil Maley

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#14
You should have taken the E-toll offering because if you hadn't missed the toll and gotten into the cash lane, you wouldn't have been charged for it at all.

They seem to merely be charging you what their agreement says for using the E-Toll;


If you use e-Toll, you will be charged a $3.95 convenience fee for each day of the rental, including any days on which e-Toll is not used, up to a maximum of $19.75 per rental month, plus incurred tolls at the cash rate. There is no charge for Budget e-Toll unless you use it.
e-Toll - Rental Car Toll Pass - Budget.com
 
Jan 29, 2017
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#15
Thanks Neil! Since I have already been charged by Budget I have decided to now experiment with contacting Budget/Avis and see whether there is any resolution. I sent an email to Costco Travel as well since I rented the car though them. Will let you know the outcome.
 
Mar 25, 2015
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#16
know for next time- pay online right away. In fact as soon as you get to your destination open your lap top and pay it. That way the toll will never even be processed and the car rental company will never know.

I was in a similar situation. My car was not allowed to be driven out of state A so when I missed a toll in state B I panicked. So i looked up how to pay the toll and paid it that same night.

On a side note is it really worth your time to fight over $18.05? it may take a long time and many hours of emailing. It's up to you.
 
Jan 29, 2017
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#17
Thanks! This helps. I agree its not worth my time to fight for $18 - but I am so incensed by all this that I want to see what happens if I actually follow-up on the suggestions of fellow travelers on this site.
 

Neil Maley

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#18
Shouldn't you be mad at yourself for not being in the correct lane to pay instead of use the electronic toll? There are plenty of signs warning the toll booth is coming up and that the automated toll is almost always on the left side of the road. Were you driving too fast to get over?
 
Mar 7, 2017
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#19
I too, have been a victim of this. My situation varied a bit from the above writer though. After I rented a car in Tampa Fl. I refused the tool pass option (the transponder rental), then I left the airport heading north. The road was under construction and there was no option to pay cash. You just drove through and a picture of the license plate was taken, after which the rental car company charged me the 'administration fee" for each day I had the car. Plus the actual toll. Like the above reader, I used the road only twice, once from the airport and once back to the airport.

My situation was different due to the fact that there was absolutely no option to pay cash (I assume because of the construction) It was one of those "gottcha" moments ! I wrote to Budget and explained the impossible situation. Their first response was that I should have known it was a toll road under construction and been aware of that. I tried to explain that I was not from the area and would have no way of anticipating this. I politely asked for the reps name and took it to the next level, putting everything in writing and sending it to the customer service manager (whose name was given to me by the rep I talked to on the phone and reassured her that she had done nothing wrong and handled my situation with professionalism and courtesy.)

The customer service manager responded and said that she would remove the "administration fee" for the days I had not used the toll road. I thought that was a fair compromise and accepted her offer.

I understand that Budget had no control over the construction therefore they still had to go through the process of billing and administrative fees involved in that. But, the customer has no choice in this matter either. I think that Budget is taking advantage of this situation because they always ask the customer if they want the option to rent the transponder, and not telling the customer about the tolls and possibly not having the option to pay cash on the toll road. Therefore resolving them selves of any responsibility ! An unfair business practice to say the least, especially after all the publicity this issue has received.

Simply telling all the customers about this situation, making them completely aware of the entire situation BEFORE renting the car, and then giving them a choice would solve this problem. But, it would also reduce the revenue that they receive from people that do not pay attention to these charges and just pay them. Therefore, they have an incentive not to change their policy. What do you think they are going to do ?
 
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