What to Do When the Rental Car Company Tries to Overcharge You

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car rental overcharge
Photo by Atomic Taco.

Being Overcharged for a Rental Car & How to Get it Fixed

Last weekend I was in Salt Lake City hiking up mountains and riding roller coasters with my friends. It was a great weekend and one I helped to make cheaper for everyone by using some of my points. One of the areas, I didn’t use points was for our car rental.

I was however able to score us a decent deal by using Costco Travel to book a two day rental through Budget. Since I didn’t want to be the only one driving, I love that Costco includes an extra driver for free with Budget rentals.  $64 all-in for an airport rental is definitely not the best deal ever, but it was good enough.

Renting the Car

car rental overcharge
The contract has the full rates, but doesn’t show coupons or corporate discounts.

We arrived at the airport around midnight, so the desk agent looked bored. I was able to confirm that the extra driver was free and he added my friend’s information and tried to send us on our way. For some reason the numbers on the Budget contract didn’t show the final price, so I confirmed it with him. His final words to me as we left the desk were $64. He had even upgraded us to a Cadillac XTS. Perfect!

Unfortunately, when we went to return the car, I was handed a receipt for $109.14. The agent had charged us $17.99 per day plus taxes and fees for an extra driver. This was far from a mistake in my opinion, since I confirmed the final price with him. My best guess is that he received some sort of commission for upping the contract price and was hoping that I wouldn’t notice the price at the end.

How to Get This Resolved

car rental overcharge
We did have a fantastic car!

Yes I was upset, but I have learned that it can do far more anger to let things like this eat me up inside. Instead, I decided to follow through and let things be resolved. Here is the process to follow when trying to get a car rental overcharge corrected:

Step 1 – Talk to the Manager

After receiving the increased receipt, I went inside to speak to the manager, but he was gone for the night. The desk agent was nice and confirmed my rate should have been $64. She said she would have the manager take care of it the next day and email me the new receipt.

Step 2 – Reach out to Corporate

Two days passed and I still hadn’t heard from Budget, so I decided to Tweet their social media team. I have found that tweeting is often much more effective than filling out a complaint form. Within an hour, the social media team had escalated this and it took about a day for me to receive my revised receipt. If it hadn’t been resolved by this point, there were more steps I could have taken.

Step 3 – Contact Booking Agent

I wouldn’t always do this if I booked through a company with poor customer service, but in this case I booked through Costco who would have taken care of it. I had a confirmed price from my email, so I had no doubt that they would have fixed it.

Step 4 – Dispute the Credit Card Charge

If nothing else would have worked, then I would have not hesitated to dispute the charge. In my situation, I had a confirmed price which also stated that an extra driver was free. Had I submitted a claim, Budget would not have been able to show that I authorized the additional charge. I believe it would have been overturned.

Avoid a Surprise

One other common issue at car rental agencies is people being rightfully charged fees they didn’t learn or know about. Make sure to understand the company’s policies so you don’t end up paying more than you expected. If you don’t  have something in writing saying that a fee is waived, then don’t expect it to be. Most of the complaints I see about car rental companies relate back to people not understanding fees & policies.

Conclusion

I am glad I was able to resolve my situation without any stress at all. Don’t get me wrong, I was upset that this guy felt the need to do this, but it was fixed easy enough and this really is the first overcharge I have had in many many years so I can’t complain. In the end, following these steps should ensure you get your money back if you have been overcharged for a car rental.


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4 COMMENTS

  1. Unfortunately rental cars companies have become one of the biggest scams in this country. Problem is that the receipt they print out and give to you by the time you return the car means nothing. I had several times where the guy checked the gas tank and confirmed it was full printed out the receipt with the correct amount and later I would see a different charge on my credit credit card. When calling them they would say the tank was not full. Thus, the receipt means nothing and it is your word against theirs. They know many people don’t have time to do everything you did above so in many cases they will keep the money. Same goes for damages they claim they only saw after you returned the car. We need to change the rules somehow when by giving you the receipt they agree that the car was accepted and those are the final charges.

    • Something I learned while renting motorbikes in SE Asia: take pictures of them before you rent. Same goes with rental cars in the USA. Take pics of everything: car – inside and out, the gas level indicator – before and after, the receipt etc. It ALL comes in handy if they try to take you for a ride.

  2. Don’t rent from Payless in Las Vegas, they will add all sorts of extra charges. If you have to, always double check the final price.

  3. Lady at Dollar Rent A Car at McCarran airport asks if we want insurance. We say no we already have. She asks what is your car insurance information. We give it to her. We think she’s typing all this into the system and we think we are signing that we declined insurance when asked to sign the small rectangular signing pad (not the ones that show you what you purchased and the amounts…this pad is to only collect your signature). She prints docs, highlights, puts docs in envelope and send us on our way. She didn’t show us her screen, didn’t tell us she added insurance, nor tell us the total amount. Low and behold she charged the insurance! Manager, customer service all said the same thing…you already signed, nothing can be done. One even hung up on us. At least before with the paper contract, we could verify the insurance was declined before we signed and then they charge our card. This is no different than stealing my credit card information and charging insurance on it. I’m sure we’re not the only nor hers and other agents last victim. It’s one thing to pressure or lie to consumers to agree to buy your insurance but to still charge even when they decline is stealing. How can that not be an offense.

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