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Avis is screwing customers on this <75 miles fuel charge

Avis is screwing customers on this <75 miles fuel charge

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Old May 20, 09, 3:42 pm
  #1  
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Avis is screwing customers on this <75 miles fuel charge

Drove an Avis rental less than 75 miles in Norfolk, VA last month. Filled the car up with gas on the way to the airport and turned it in. CSR charges me $10.50 for fuel. I tell her I filled the car up on the way, check the gas gauge. She asks me for a receipt. I have none so she insists on charging me $10.50 for gas even though she annotates 8/8 on the "fuel in" portion of my recieipt.

My rental "contract" consisted of a paper card that said nothing about bringing a receipt or < 75 miles incurring a fuel charge. I wrote to Avis to complain and got this reponse:

Dear Mr. Diplomatico:

"Thank you for contacting Avis via www.avis.com. Please accept my sincere apology for the delay in responding to your email.

The automatic refueling fee of $10.50 was initiated to allow our renters who drive less than 75 miles the convenience of returning the vehicle without having to locate a gas station on their way back to the airport.


I apologize if you were unaware of this program. In order for us to
document your case and/or to consider an amendment to the charges we
will need you to fax a copy of the gas receipt showing you purchased
fuel prior to return. Our fax number is 918-270-2920. Please include
Avis Case number XXXXXX on the fax document.

In the future, if you have driven the vehicle less than 75 miles and
choose to purchase fuel prior to returning the vehicle, please provide a
receipt of the fuel purchased at time of check in."

Complete and total rip-off. Time to switch rental car companies.
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Old May 20, 09, 3:54 pm
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This has been discussed regularly here. Are you part of the Avis Preferred service? If so, they sent you an email when this change went into effect ~2 years ago.

The reason they did this is because in most cars, if the tank is totally full, you can drive 30-60 miles & still have the gauge show 8/8, screwing the next person who thinks the tank is really full.

Also, at every station that I've visited, they have a sign with the policy ON the counter and usually hanging behind the desk. While it's not on your contract, if the policy is posted at their "register" where you got your contract, it's good enough for most states (kind of like return policies listed at the store and not on your receipt).

However, I agree that they NEED to post these fees on the slip that you get at each airport. You might have good luck fighting it with your credit card or the Better Business Bureau (bbb.org) if it's not on your contract and you say it wasn't on the counter when you got the keys.
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Old May 20, 09, 6:43 pm
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It's going to be pretty tough without a receipt, unless they are willing to grant a "one-time" exception. Even with a receipt, I had to get the charge taken off at the rental counter (the return person didn't even bother looking at the fuel gauge or odometer!). It was a good thing that I always budget extra time at the airport plus there wasn't a line. If I were running late to catch a flight, it would have been more than annoying to have to go to the counter even with a receipt as proof.

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Old May 20, 09, 6:49 pm
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Such policy has been in place at least 2 years!

At one point the charge was a lot more than $10 - I think it is $15 or $16, when oil was at $140 last summer.

There are notice on the o....er, behind the desk, to inform customers of such charge if you cannot produce a receipt to show you have filled up the tank.

We always have receipt in hand and tell the lot attendant so. Never have been charged the fee. It used to be you have to do it at the counter, but I think they find a way to work around it and as long as the attendant is satisfied with your claim, he can override the system to get rid of the surcharge.

It is a fair practice unless you intend to scam the rental car company or the next customer.
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Old May 20, 09, 6:54 pm
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Originally Posted by Diplomatico View Post
Complete and total rip-off. Time to switch rental car companies.
I believe you may not find one that does not have such practice these days.

Since when you last rented a car with less than 75 miles driven?
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Old May 20, 09, 7:48 pm
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I've seen an underage rental car driver only put about 12 miles on the car the one day he had it. A few miles from PHL to his hotel in southern NJ, a few miles to his appointment the next morning, and a few more miles to go back to PHL across the river. I'm sure the rental agency got a windfall profit out of him.

I told the kid that he spent a huge amount of money for something he barely used: higher airport rate, airport tax, plus underage fee, and then I calculated he'll only drive 12 miles total. But he seemed perfectly okay with it.
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Old May 21, 09, 8:50 am
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Originally Posted by Auto Enthusiast View Post
I've seen an underage rental car driver only put about 12 miles on the car the one day he had it. A few miles from PHL to his hotel in southern NJ, a few miles to his appointment the next morning, and a few more miles to go back to PHL across the river. I'm sure the rental agency got a windfall profit out of him.

I told the kid that he spent a huge amount of money for something he barely used: higher airport rate, airport tax, plus underage fee, and then I calculated he'll only drive 12 miles total. But he seemed perfectly okay with it.
Perhaps someone else is paying for it??

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Old May 21, 09, 9:47 am
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Originally Posted by Auto Enthusiast View Post
I've seen an underage rental car driver only put about 12 miles on the car the one day he had it. A few miles from PHL to his hotel in southern NJ, a few miles to his appointment the next morning, and a few more miles to go back to PHL across the river. I'm sure the rental agency got a windfall profit out of him.

I told the kid that he spent a huge amount of money for something he barely used: higher airport rate, airport tax, plus underage fee, and then I calculated he'll only drive 12 miles total. But he seemed perfectly okay with it.
Originally Posted by LAX View Post
Perhaps someone else is paying for it??

LAX
I'd assume the rental from PHL wouldn't be more than $100 ($50 rental maximum, $25 underage fee, $25 maximum) + $2 gas.

For those 3 drives (PHL to NJ hotel, NJ hotel to NJ appointment & NJ appointment to PHL), you'd probably be paying AT LEAST $60 in taxis, if not closer to 80 or 100. Even at $60, you're "only" saving $42. I'd do that because you might want to go for dinner, or not have time to wait on a taxi to & from the appointment. Now, if you're staying at an airport hotel (high parking fees and free shuttle to/from the airport), it would be a different scenario. However, since the hotel was in NJ, I'd doubt that's the case.
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Old May 21, 09, 10:00 am
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You didn't mention the tolls to cross the Delaware River, but I'm assuming a taxi would charge them just the same.

However, I remember there was a PATCO/NJ Transit commuter rail station 2 blocks away, going back to the hub at the Philadelphia 30th St station. I'd imagine that would have been significantly cheaper. But, if I remember correctly, this fellow came from an area of the country where the first thing they think of is getting a car. I've seen this in NY as well- they get off the plane at JFK, go right to the rental car counter, and rent an SUV to drive into Manhattan. Woops, the parking garage refuses the oversize ride. Gee, toto, we're not in Kansas anymore. To be fair, I've likewise seen NYC people get off a plane and immediately go looking around for (nonexistent) mass transit at the arrival city.
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Old May 21, 09, 10:12 am
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Originally Posted by IAHtraveler View Post
The reason they did this is because in most cars, if the tank is totally full, you can drive 30-60 miles & still have the gauge show 8/8, screwing the next person who thinks the tank is really full.
I'd be more agreeable to this policy if I believed, for a second, that someone from Avis actually tops off the tank before the next renter takes the car.
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Old May 21, 09, 10:38 am
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Originally Posted by IAHtraveler View Post
The reason they did this is because in most cars, if the tank is totally full, you can drive 30-60 miles & still have the gauge show 8/8, screwing the next person who thinks the tank is really full.
Originally Posted by MDtR-Chicago View Post
I'd be more agreeable to this policy if I believed, for a second, that someone from Avis actually tops off the tank before the next renter takes the car.
I don't think Avis will "top off" tanks. However, I think that with the policy (and others that I've seen where you must present a receipt to show you filled the tank w/in 5 miles of the airport no matter how many miles you drove), they're trying to prevent ill will from the next person that picks up the car, drives 4 miles & has a less-than-full tank. I know I've been annoyed when this has been done to me. However, there are many flaws in their policy. Just because you have a receipt for gas (sometimes within 5 miles of the airport), doesn't mean anything. You could: 1. Drive through stations & grab an abandoned receipt; 2. Put a bit of gas in the car, but not fill it; 3. Fill the car & drive lots more before you turn it in, etc. I don't know that their is a solution to these items, but still shows that their policy isn't worth anything in reality.
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Old May 21, 09, 11:02 am
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A couple of times I have filled up and not had a receipt. Called the Preferred # and got it taken off.

I have heard that there is a class action suit related to this.
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Old May 21, 09, 11:34 am
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Originally Posted by Happy View Post
It is a fair practice unless you intend to scam the rental car company or the next customer.
It's not a fair practice at all to charge someone a refueling fee when they return the car with a full tank. I understand why Avis is motivated to address this concern, but they're not going about it in the right way. It comes across as (yet another) money grab.
Originally Posted by Happy View Post
Since when you last rented a car with less than 75 miles driven?
Happens quite frequently to me (recent MCO and ORF rentals come to mind). Sometimes the cheapest option is to rent a car, even if it isn't driven a long distance. And yes, I've had to go through the hassle of having this refueling charge removed.
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Old May 21, 09, 1:44 pm
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I don't rent a lot from Avis, and I have mixed feelings on this one. I think it should be an OPTION at the time of rental, or even an OPTION at the completion of the rental.

The first time I encountered it they warned me about it when I picked up the car, and there were signs everywhere. I don't remember what the dollar amount was but if you were close to 75 miles it was a wash. The benefit was you didn't have to hunt down a gas station as you were rushing back to the airport, and it was generally only a couple of dollars more than if you found that gas station.

If you did fill up you did have to remember to tell the person when you returned the car, or you would be hit with the charge. There had been times when I had to go to the counter to get it taken off which was a hassle.

I do a lot of single day rentals where I do drive under 75 miles, but when I do the 15 or 20 miles the $10 is absurd to pay, although generally I wind up doing that rather than hunting down a gas station to put a couple of bucks of gas in the tank.

Upside, however is I have not found an Avis rental that wasn't topped off, something I can't say about other companies. With other companies I have put in $10 of gas into a car that I only drove 25 miles.
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Old May 21, 09, 9:54 pm
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Originally Posted by MDtR-Chicago View Post
I'd be more agreeable to this policy if I believed, for a second, that someone from Avis actually tops off the tank before the next renter takes the car.
Even if they don't top it off, if the next renter complains that they didn't get a full tank of gas, Avis may give them a credit or other compensation to make up for it, so it still might be costing Avis not to have the car completely full.
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