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Car rental actual charges vs. what reservation "estimates" charges

Car rental actual charges vs. what reservation "estimates" charges

Old Sep 23rd, 2009, 08:08 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 522
Car rental actual charges vs. what reservation "estimates" charges

Once or twice a year I rent a car (always for pickup/drop off at an airport). I make the reservation online. Reservation always states an "estimated" cost total but includes language to the effect that actual taxes and fees might be different (and, of course, are always MORE). Is there any recourse to just paying whatever the agent at the rental demands when you show up, reservation in hand, to pick up your auto and the amount is grossly more than you were led to expect? Should I contact the rental car company by phone or otherwise before I go and ask for the actual amount that will be billed? Any other suggestions?
gailw is offline  
Old Sep 23rd, 2009, 08:28 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
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I've actually never encountered this for a single rental in the U.S.

In the past few years, I can think of only one time when the actual charges exceeded the estimated charges, and that's when I misbooked the return time for my car and returned it 12 hours late (I thought it was PM, but it was actually AM). And that was a result of my mistake.

The only time the actual charges differ is when you do something unexpected, like forget to top off the tank, exceed your rental time, or something like that.
doug_stallings is offline  
Old Sep 23rd, 2009, 09:00 AM
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well, I don't know whether to ascribe my experiences to a lack of luck or yours to being lucky -- it's happened to my significant other every time he flies to Portland Oregon to visit his sons and picks up a rental from a reservation I've made over the internet; it's happened to me on numerous car rentals in Spain (but since I don't speak Spanish well enough to argue or understand the rapidfire explanations, I attributed those experiences to my lack of language skills). I'd like to see what happens in North Carolina next month. I'd like to be proven wrong.
gailw is offline  
Old Sep 23rd, 2009, 09:20 AM
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This has never happened to me either. Everytime my actual charges were pretty much the same as the estimates. Which car rental company does your SO use?
yk is offline  
Old Sep 23rd, 2009, 09:28 AM
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I think this happens if you don't ask enough questions at the time yuo reserve. You need to ask specifically about insurance charges (if you will take any) airport fees, taxes (state, city and airport) and gas charges.

Make sure whoever is giving you the price tells you this. If you're doing a website versus a live person you often won;t get this info. And you can;t refuse to pay - they are legitimate costs and no way to get out of them.
nytraveler is offline  
Old Sep 23rd, 2009, 11:09 AM
Join Date: Jul 2009
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They are always going to try and sell you something that you don't need, and if you bite, you pay.
For instance, they'll make it sound so convenient for you to pay for the gas up front so that you can return the car empty. But you'll pay for a full tank even if you've only driven a couple of hundred miles.
And I've heard them try to get me with "You probably don't need all of our insurance coverages, right? You're fine with just the basic?" To which the reply should be something along the lines of "No, I don't need your BASIC coverage either, I have my own car rental liability insurance and I have collision coverage through my credit card".

You might want to check out some other threads regarding rental cars so that you can become a bit more rental-agent-savvy. Especially nowadays, they are going to try and sway you to purchase any little extra that they can think of.

Also, some of the companies like Alamo are really screwing you now if you change the contract in ANY little way. Bringing the car back a few hours late used to mean some pretty hefty per-hour late fees. Now, they're telling you that late return will negate your entire contract. They told me that my $20 per day car would be $70 per day if I returned it late....and that the $70 per day was for the entire rental not just for the day the additional (late) day. And I've heard others say that you pay the hefty new per-day fee if you return your car EARLY, too!



divineMissM is offline  
Old Sep 23rd, 2009, 11:43 AM
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Posts: 522
Thanks for the info and the links.
YK: My SO doesn't use one particular company, just whatever is the cheapest rate for a midsize car at the time I'm making the reservation.
NYTraveler: Yes, using a website does leave you open to unresolved questions. That's why I posted my original question: I thought that might be the reason we experienced discrepancies between what we thought we'd owe and ended up being charged. I found what I think is a decent rate for 8 days in NC and would like to be able to count on it actually costing that amount.
Divine: I agree that the rental co. is going to try to squeeze the customer for every extra charge it can. I've always been aware of the insurance issue and just checked with my insurance agent again to make sure my car ins. policy will cover a car rental and was assured that it does, to the full extent of my policy coverage ($500,000/$1M). Interestingly, my SO's insurance agent (different agency) says his policy will NOT cover him for a rental. Go figure...
The links you included are interesting, esp. the "10 things" article.
I'm grateful for all the advice.
gailw is offline  
Old Sep 23rd, 2009, 12:41 PM
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Here is a possible explanation. When you research car rates (I start with Travelocity or Expedia) and the cute little chart appears with rates/sizes/companies - this does not include airport fees, taxes, and all the bizarre add-ons. When you then proceed, thru car rental company website to reserve a car, at the final step they give you a price with all these add-ons (mandatory ones, not the optional insurance).

This figure is always about 10-20% higher than the chart price - but I have always paid this higher figure and it has never differed at rental counter or on my bill unless I rent it for longer than expected or add on some more insurance or other such thing.

Are you positive he is comparing charged amount with this higher add-on fee indicated on reservation page?
gail is offline  
Old Sep 23rd, 2009, 03:03 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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We rent cars often in different cities (and use different car rental firms too) and have never had the price exceed our estimate we got online. We have extended our trip a few times and then the price does go up but that is because of something we did.
Cali is offline  
Old Sep 24th, 2009, 07:54 AM
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I always print out the final cost because I'm aware that what LOOKS like the cost is never the actual cost due to very high taxes on rental cars and airport fees. I'm usually not present when the charges have been more than indicated, so I'll be interested to see how it goes at Raleigh-Durham. I think I'm firmer with counter clerks in resisting suggested upgrades and insurance, and that may well account for the discrepancy.
gailw is offline  
Old Sep 24th, 2009, 08:49 AM
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I rent about 6 times/year at RDU (dtr in college) and have never had this problem -we have used several companies but my new favorite there is Alamo since they now have a kiosk at the off-site counter location (they are all off-airport at RDU) and if you enter a lot of info on-line when you make the reservation it takes about a minute to get the car from when you walk in. If you choose to prepay it is even faster.
gail is offline  
Old Oct 17th, 2009, 08:11 PM
Join Date: Oct 2009
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I am disputing charges with Avis right now over this. I booked a car online at Avis.com for $250 + (gas, insurance, etc) for 3 days plus hours in London. When I arrived the car wasn't ready, so one hour later they found me a lesser car class, I signed the agreement in haste and without the promised map, took off. At the end of the rental period, again without the promised directions to Heathrow so late and lost, with an hour to catch my plane home, I threw the keys at the car rental guy and signed the rental agreement again. Only to find when I returned home that I had signed 299.02 POUNDS when I thought I had signed 299.04 DOLLARS. $299.04 was the correct price but my VISA was billed $518 (299 pounds). My bank initially supported me but now that AVIS has produced my signed rental agreement they are both holding me to that! Even though the same rental online comes out to $299, NOT $518. I intend to sue Avis, just for laughs and giggles. Any other ideas?
Californiagirl51 is offline  
Old Oct 18th, 2009, 05:06 AM
Join Date: Dec 2008
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Could it be that when you rent you don't account for the extra drivers? The price I've been given is for one driver, and that person is the designated driver, many charge more for another driver.
emalloy is offline  
Old Oct 18th, 2009, 05:27 AM
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I have never had this happen either, whether renting directly from the company, through Travelocity, Priceline or Hotwire, and in rentals in France. When I get to the desk they always ask to put on all the "bells and whistles" which I decline.
I suggest the OP take a look at Hotwire for rental info first. There they will give the final cost of the car with the airport and any other surcharges clearly shown, so if you haven't asked enough questions (as someone suggested) you KNOW there will be more added. It is also helpful when bidding on PL, because these will also be added to your rental bid.
And good luck on Avis suing--read what you sign VERY carefully on car contracts.
Gretchen is offline  
Old Oct 18th, 2009, 07:57 PM
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I intend to sue Avis, just for laughs and giggles. Any other ideas?

Suing them for what - so you can clog up the court system for people who have actually been wronged?
sf7307 is offline  
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