Warning to Readers on Rental Car Issues, Especially in Florida

Facebooktwittermail

This week I was on the road/flying Space A and have had 4 rental cars in 6 days! Bottomline is renting a car is a battle of wits and gut wrenching experience full of add on’s, fees, etc. Also new rules and toll fees in Florida! Please warn members!

South Florida did away with toll booths. They bill via your license plate. As such they bill the rental car company. With all the cars I rented, I ran into daily fees from the rental car company from “don’t worry about it” to $4 a day to $10 a day to $40! You simply cannot exist in Miami without going on a toll road. Both main roads to the airport are toll. So on top of all those fees, my current car is costing me $10 a day more than the quoted price + all those fees & taxes! Please warn members! It seems the rental company can charge anything they want and while you can refuse it is not practical. Hertz charges $5 daily, Avis $4. Imagine poor folks who rent a car out of state and drive to FL and are not warned.

Also watch out for all those extra fees and charges before you sign. I booked a $49 rental via a website with all taxes and fees included. When the counter gal was done with me with mandatory charges it was $106 (copy on request). She had also taken the liberty of adding optional charges without asking first then offering taking it well over $106 on the first copy. It took over an hour on the phone, finding a printer and a return to the agency and more hassling to get to $55 then finally the quoted $49. One fee was that I was 52 minutes early so without telling me, I was charged an extra hour. So fellow travelers, prepare for battle and look over your bill carefully and ask questions.

Now specific to Florida: toll booths are gone! Goodbye to rude booth attendants, waits inline and the risk of getting rear ended. More information found here: http://tollroadsnews.com/news/floridas-turnpike-begins-toll-by-plate-in-miami-dade—first-step-to-aet  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.

How does it work? 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.

Jeff Church, renocop@earthlink.net

Reprint from May–June 2015 • Volume 45, No. 3