Curious about Resort for Canadian Law

Old Jan 15th, 2003, 04:57 PM
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Curious about Resort for Canadian Law

Recently we tried to rent a car for a trip from Connecticut into Canada (Quebec & Ontario) and found that almost no rental agencies would allow us to take the car into Canada - and that the one that would insisted that the car be returned to the nearest dealership on this side of the US Border (in this case Buffalo NY) from where we re-entered the States - not to where we rented it. This is apparently because of a Canadian law of some kind. The end result is that it was pretty much impossibly expensive to do this (rental car drop-off to Buffalo instead of Providence Connecticut resulted an extra $1000 charge).

Does anyone know the reason/rationale for this law? I assume there is some design behind it. Is it to encourage US citizens to rent cars in Canada perhaps?

We've made other plans to work around this (family is driving us to Quebec City and we're taking the train around from there), but I'm still curious. The Rental car agent didn't have a clue as to why the law existed.

Old Jan 15th, 2003, 04:58 PM
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Opps - Title was supposed to be "Reason for Canadian Law"

Geeze, I just can't type.

Old Jan 15th, 2003, 06:01 PM
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It might be a regional law, or a law created by the rental company itself.
I know both the USA and Canada have some pretty wacky laws when it comes to that kind of stuff.

Over here on the west coast, rental companies in Washington state can drive their cars into BC, and vice versa, as there are many tourists that fly into Seattle and drive up to Vancouver, or they fly into Vancouver and then drive down to Seattle. While there are usually surplus charges, it's never been forbidden on this side of the continent... which makes me think it's not a national law, but a regional one.
Old Jan 15th, 2003, 06:06 PM
Madam Justice
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I will check on this & get back to you. My preliminary answer is that this is not b/c of "a Canadian law of some kind". I think there are soem "cross border regulations" so it is not specific to Canada. But I will let you know.
Old Jan 15th, 2003, 06:37 PM
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Victoria is plugged every summer with rental cars wearing Washington plates. It is hard to believe they are all breaking 'some Canadian law'.

It would be very easy for cops to pick them off and fine them if they were.

Rental companies can be a bit paranoid.

You cannot rent a red car in Canada because of tourists in Florida in red cars being shot at years ago. Yes I did ask 'why no red'.

Old Jan 15th, 2003, 07:52 PM
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I was in Canada during September 11 on business. It became clear to me that I was not going to easily be able to fly back home to Boston, so I called up Avis and asked them if I could simply drive from Montreal to Boston to ensure I was home to be with family.

Avis was extremely nice, but they did have to charge me a fee. They told me it was because of the much more strict emissions regulations in the US. A Canadian car is too smoggy to be registered/rented in the US. So, Avis claimed that they were not able to rent my Canadian car in Boston, and they claimed that the car had to be driven (by an Avis employee) back to Montreal (or anywhere in Canada) in order to be re-rented.

I am eternally thankful to Avis for allowing me to drive back home to be with family during that extremly sensitive time. If it weren't for them I would have stayed in Montreal, alone, for at least 3-4 additional days.
Old Jan 16th, 2003, 11:56 AM
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I will take a stab in the dark at this, as I think I was the person who originally pointed out to you awhile ago that I knew you would have problems.
My idea would be that it is NOT a Canadian law at all, that this is just an easy answer for the car rental employess to pass the buck. I think it would have more to do with insurance issues for the car rental companies. An example: a Canadian car, insured here, accident in California, many problems had to be dealt with and the insurance mess was a nightmare! I also agree with the emissions issue, American cars cannot be re-rented in Canada and would have to be returned to the states in order to do so, as the above poster stated, a fee charged to have a driver return it. Also, no jurisdiction for the car rental company to "retreive" their car once it enters Canada, and for some reason wasnt returned. The costs involved would far outweigh the value of the car unfortunately. I am not suggesting that a car rental company would assume that you are "stealing" their car, but they certainly would have a problem getting it back if that were to happen. Not too long ago, a car leasing company in Ontario could not lease cars, or I should say, WOULD not lease cars to residents of Quebec, simply because the cost of recovery, even though it is two minutes away, but a different provincial court system, was prohibitive. Obviously their concern was someone leases a car, stops paying the payments, and the leasing company was stuck. So, in a nutshell, I think the dont want to, not that they cant. Although the re renting in Canada is definitely an issue (emission standards are stronger here).
Rather than explain all these issues to a client, after they have sold you a ton of insurance etc, they certainly dont want to imply that maybe you are a thief, maybe you will have an accident and they have a mess and need Canadian representation, etc. so they just simply say "Canadian law" prohibits it. And you, the client, thinks, geeesh what is wrong with Canada? LOL.
Easy way out I think, pass the buck.

Also, the majority of their employees probably dont even know why they wont do it, and just come up with something they think you will accept. So why the rental car agent didnt have a clue as to why the law existed, is probably because that person doesnt have a clue period.
Tongue in cheek, I know the written word can be hard to explain the sentiment. I am not trying to be rude or harsh. I am smiling as I type Ken.
Old Jan 16th, 2003, 12:06 PM
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One last point if I may, in rereading your post I noticed that they would charge you a $1000 fee to drop off the car in another location in the States. Now why would that have anything to do with Canadian law?? It doesnt at all. And I would bet this same rental company allows drop offs free of charge in other states. It all comes down to their cost of doing business. For example, in the state of Florida, most car rental companies allow free drop offs. Why? Because there is such demand, and cars are going back and forth all the time. Many franchises or corporate locations know they are getting cars all the time from different Florida cities that they dont care. But in this case, the car rental outlet in Connecticut knows that it may be a long time, if ever, before they get a car coming one way from Buffalo. Hence the outrageous fee. And they would lose income on that car while they are sending someone to get it. So they charge you for that. Its all economics to them. Some states, with high tourist rentals coming and going daily will absorb this, others will not.
Old Jan 16th, 2003, 12:22 PM
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Yes, I do remember your warning (very accurate). It sounds like your answers make sense to me, so you could be right. I'm certain anyway, that the $1000 drop-off fee itself is NOT a result of Canadian law, but rather the very scenario you describe (lack of demand for cars traveling from Niagara Falls to Connecticut).

In any event, we've come up with an alternative solution that doesn't involve any rental cars from any rental car company. It's not quite as flexible but it will work for us.
It should be a great trip and we're very much looking forward to seeing Quebec City and Niagara Falls (Ont) before heading back to the west coast on "the Canadian" Silver and Blue class.

Old Jan 16th, 2003, 12:45 PM
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Sounds like a great trip planned Ken! I hope you enjoy your vacation! The train part of your trip out west sounds wonderful too, something I would like to do one day myself. Enjoy!
Old Jan 16th, 2003, 01:17 PM
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Although the above reasons are all probably valid there's another at least equal if not more valid reason. Canadian cars are metric and American cars are in Imperial. Obviously they would not be rented out to anyone who did not plan on returning the car to the country of origin which could mean a long wait and down time for the car which no rental agency wants.

But big dropoff fees are not just accross international boundaries. Last year when we were in Las Vegas I thought maybe it would be nice of us to drive to Phoenix and so bought Plane tickets to LV and returning from Phoenix. Imagine my shock when I was told the drop off fee in Phoenix would be $400! I called America West and got two tickets for $198 each saving $4 and the long drive to boot. However the fact that we had one way tickets raised all sorts of red flags with airport security which is another story altogether
Old Jan 16th, 2003, 01:27 PM
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Yeah, that brings up another interesting twist to our trip. One-way airplane tickets from Seattle to Providence (closest airport to our family in Norwich Conn) are OF COURSE more than round-trip!!! Since we're taking the train back to Vancouver BC (then down to Seattle), we only need one-way fare - but to save money, I booked round-trip tickets and just plan on being a NO-SHOW for the return trip.

Now I understand why airlines overbook - screwy travel rules.

Old Jan 17th, 2003, 04:23 AM
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Hi Ken. It is not unusual to be faced with steep dropoff fees if one tries to drop off a car in another country. For example, to drop off a car in Austria that one has rented in Italy can cost around $600 minimum. This, despite the distance involved being small.
I've no idea why, especially since these countries are both members of the EU and emission standards, etc. would be similar, and both countries use metric.
Old Jan 25th, 2003, 07:40 PM
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We wanted to rent a car in Winnipeg to go to Fargo & Grand Forks. The various car companies' policy were that the "low price unlimited mileage" did not apply if you went into the states. Later, one of the rental companies said "Oh, you should have asked us at the counter. It wouldn't have been a problem..."

SImilarly, renting in Vancouver - the unlimited mileage rate was not applicable to cars crossing the border. (Also the special rate not applicable for cars rented from the airport. Gosh! What a concept!) I asked the car guy... "So how would you know if I crossed the border anyway?" He said the border guards would not let me into the USA. What a load! When's the last time a customs guard checked your rental agreement? I suspect it's either insurance issues, or they know when you go trans-border, in the BC area, you are more likely to put a lot of kilometers on the car. In BC, few people are going to venture much outside the 120 miles of mainland.

The previous poster has a point about the miles/kilometers setups for most cars. Some newer Canadian cars have NO mph markings. And, to force Canadians to march in metric goose-step unison, the Kilometer markings are mandatory on new cars.

I don't recall if free trade killed the rules, but there used to be a limit to used cars imports. Seems to me they had to be brand new, or over 2(? 5?) years old. Probably also had to do with tax exemptions for used cars.

There's the funny story about the insurance company in Winnipeg with a fleet of vehicles. When Manitoba brought in their government auto insurance, the private company decided in a fit of pique to move to Kenora in Ontario, 2 hours down the highway. Since the fleet was less than a year old, they were obliged to register the cars in Ontario as new and pay Provincial Sales Tax; they got no credit for the Manitoba tax already paid. Seems they realized that Winnipeg was really the place to do business after all, so in a while they moved headquarters back. The cars were still less than a year old, and were being imported from Ontario, so by the letter of the law, they had to cough up the Manitoba Sales Tax a second time. (Some stories are just too good to be true...)
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