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Car Rental

Have You Ever Been A Victim of This “Shady” Car Rental Practice?

Have You Ever Been A Victim of This “Shady” Car Rental Practice?
Jeff Edwards

After repeatedly answering reader complaints about the “shady inner workings” of car rental agencies in the U.S, nationally syndicated New York Post financial columnist John Crudele is calling for an investigation into unethical business practices industrywide. Crudele noted that the industry may be ripe for “an enterprising attorney” willing to pursue a class action lawsuit.

Travelers who have not been hit by hidden fees or gouged for “compulsory” services when returning a rental car, likely know someone who has. Now, New York Post syndicated columnist John Crudele is saying what many frequent flyers have suspected for years – the car rental industry might not be the most ethical game in town.

“Sure, you get great deals on car rentals,” Crudele wrote in his latest “Dear John” column on January 13.  “And then you get ripped off on the return.”

The longtime business reporter was responding to a reader complaint that Avis unfairly charged nearly $20 for putting gas into a car that he had returned with a full tank. Crudele noted that this wasn’t the first time this sort of “shady” car rental practice had been brought to his attention.

“Look, I’ve been on this case for a long time,” he explained. “The car rental industry needs to be investigated. Or some enterprising attorney needs to file a class action suit against the lot of them because of their business practices. The truth is, there is no way to fill a gas tank up to the brim. No safe way, at least. I’ve tried. And no matter how much gas you put in the tank, you still have to drive some distance to return the car. If you’ve picked the option to return the car full — or pay for the gas they have to add — then you are always going to get charged. And the last time this happened to me the charge was $10 a gallon.”

Even with the media attention, it appears that Avis was unwilling to budge on the questionable fee. The columnist, however, reassured the reader that he was not unreasonable to be upset by a charge of $19.17.

“Twenty dollars from you,” he lamented. “Twenty from someone else. Twenty from a million customers, and it starts to add up.”


[Image: Flickr/Atomic Taco]

View Comments (13)


  1. TMOliver

    February 1, 2019 at 8:41 am

    I cannot count the times that I’ve been a victim of (or just barely avoided) this scam in a history of renting cars around the US (but surprisingly, not in Western Europe).

  2. IBobi


    February 1, 2019 at 12:58 pm


  3. j2simpso

    February 1, 2019 at 2:56 pm

    I thought it was going to be the classic scam of claiming they found damage on your car when that damage was already there when you picked it up. It’s the reason why I photograph and take videos of all rentals when I pick them up!

  4. dlaue

    February 1, 2019 at 2:58 pm

    Yes. Budget charges an outrageous fee if you return a rental with < 75 miles driven even if you have filled the tank. You MUST show the check-in clerk your gas receipt and insist that te fee be removed.

  5. jwvw89

    February 1, 2019 at 3:59 pm

    Yep happened to me at the Budget lot at LAX. I make it a habit to always look at the printed receipt they give you when returning the car just in case these nasty surprises pop up. Right after the vehicle return inspector handed me the receipt I asked him why he charged me for gas since it has a full tank. He responded “oh I didn’t look,” I showed him my gas receipt and demand him to take off that charge. He told me I had to go to the customer service counter to do that.

    Word to the wise, always keep the gas receipt and check the rental charge summary receipt before leaving the lot.

  6. AsiaTravel2019

    February 1, 2019 at 6:51 pm

    Budget/Avis slam their customers with unwanted charged. Very dishonest. National never does this to me.

  7. htb

    February 1, 2019 at 11:29 pm

    Does anybody really believe car rental companies will check how many gallons will fit into the tank when the indicator shows full? My guess lies more on a systematic charge. In other words: deliberate fraud. Similar to the attempt to upsell you on insurance by telling you what YOUR insurance won’t cover.
    People have any reason to be upset about a $20 bogus charge. I’m not sure what the columnist is talking about when he assured the car rental companies that he really doesn’t mind because it’s only $20. Is that considered like a tip or something?

  8. A1pax

    February 4, 2019 at 6:19 am

    Been charged by Hertz in Australia for unproven damage and returned car over 1 hour limit (even though we had proof car was returned 2 hours before expired time!). Still curious to know if it was car rental companies’ policy to rip customers off, or dishonest car rental employees.

  9. eric_o

    February 4, 2019 at 8:42 am

    “some enterprising attorney needs to file a class action suit”

    Whenever I read or hear this, it makes my blood boil. Class action = Lawyer gets millions, wronged parties get coupons for $10 off your next rental.

  10. PHL

    February 4, 2019 at 11:51 am

    20 years of Hertz rentals in US and abroad, never once an issue like I’m reading in this story and replies. I always fill up and if the tank needle shows “F”, they never charge extra.

  11. Cymbo

    February 4, 2019 at 2:32 pm

    Yes, I’ve never had any problems with Hertz in the US or their partner in Colombia.

  12. Tizzette

    February 4, 2019 at 4:37 pm

    Gas is not the only scam. I will never book direct with the car rental companies again because of their add ons and hidden charges over and above the quoted total when you reserve once you get to the counter to pick up the car. That never happens when you book through an OTA.

  13. pedrofs

    February 4, 2019 at 9:52 pm

    Yes, Budget Reno airport, November, 2018….Filled tank 2 miles from the airport. At check in area (garage) no one in sight. Went inside and gave attendant keys…she said she’d email me the receipt. Receipt showed $95 fuel charge. I contested it (didn’t have receipt but had debit on my card) never heard back from Budget. They won the battle, but I won the war…never use Budget again…

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