I need a Dollar…. but not that Dollar
Last year, I flew to NYC on business over the 4th July weekend. I rented a car from Dollar (@DollarCars / http://www.dollar.com) well in advance. Literally from the moment of arrival, it was a very frustrating experience, including
- a long, long wait for a vehicle (couple of hours, with about 15 people waiting ahead of me when I arrived and no available vehicles);
- a demand by the Dollar counter staff to prepay for a full tank of fuel, even though I had Originally made the booking with an agreement to return the vehicle full of fuel;
- a vehicle – eventually provided – that was not quite as clean inside as it might have been (probably because of the quick turnaround required);
I had no choice but to sign the terms & conditions for a pre-paid full tank of fuel even though I knew I was only going to use about half a tank. The counter staff basically said “Sign it or don’t… There’s a queue of people waiting to take your place“. So, I signed the agreement but I returned the car with a full fuel tank, took some pics of the fuel gauge and kept the receipt from the refill. Then, on returning home, I complained to Dollar and they refunded the fee back to my credit card. I shouldn’t have needed to do that…
That, however, was but a minor irritation in comparison to Dollar’s attempt to obtain money – a lot of money – by deception. I realise that’s a harsh accusation but I can’t think of a better way to say it.
I got a series of letters from Dollar telling me they were applying tolls, fines and ‘administration fees’ to my credit card for my (allegedly) passing through a variety of frenewal tolls without paying. The toral was somewhere in the region of $250 to $300 of fines (on top of the cost of the 4 day hire).
I was more than a little bit surprised since I actually remembered stopping to pay tolls on a number of occasions, on my way from JFK to Connecticut. So I dedited to study the ‘reports’ that Dollar provided by way of explanation. Imagine my surprise when I noticed that many of the fines were for toll activity that was:
- on dates that the car didn’t leave the driveway of my host’s house in Connecticut
- for tolls on roads in a completely different State than any I was in
Naturally, I demanded Dollar explain themselves. They said they had evidence (pictures) of the car I hired being driven through tolls. I asked for their evidence to be sent to me because, obviously, I knew they couldn’t have. At the time of the alleged ‘offenses’, I was in a completely different state, witnessed by about 50 other people.
They didn’t send any evidence (how could they?) and refunded everything to my card. I wasn’t surprised. I was, however, really annoyed for a variety of reasons, not least the fact that the fluctuations in currency exchange between the US$ and Euro in the time it took to resolve the issue meant that I lost around 10% of the total.
In the end, the only possible reason I can think of for this happening is that:
- Dollar were trying to scam me out of money, hoping I wouldn’t notice or wouldn’t have any way of proving the car never left the driveway on the dates in question.
- Someone, somewhere copied the registration number of the rental car and used it on another car, meaning this same thing is likely to happen to everyone who rents that saner car.
- Someone in the tolling administration company either made a mistake or attempted a scam themselves (unlikely, I think).
I finally resolved, given the combination of things that happened during that particular rental, never to use Dollar rental again unless there is no available alternative. Frankly, I don’t trust them any more.s
Feel free to circulate this to anyone you know who travels and rents a car… I’m sure I am not the only person this has ever happened to and, as the saying goes: forewarned is fore-armed.
Update: On balance, I figure I should add that Dollar are not the only Car Rental company that I’ve been the “victim” of. On renting a car from Hertz at Glasgow Airport (Scotland), I was given an upgrade to a beautiful Merc C-Class. As I always do, I took pics and video of the car’s condition. I noticed a long scratch on the door which wasn’t marked as ‘known damage’ on the paperwork so I told their agent about it & he updated the copies of the paperwork. When I returned the car, there were no comments made.
Weeks later I saw a charge on my credit card statement of more than £600. I called them and they said it was damage caused on my rental.
I won’t repeat the comments I made but, in a nutshell, I accused them (correctly, I think) of trying to defraud their customers.
I emailed them the images and video. They refunded the charge. They didn’t explain why the ‘error’ haopened.
I made a loss on the foreign exchange change between the time of the charge and the time of the refund.
I decided never to use Hertz in Glasgow again unless I have absolutely no choice.