Change in TOS? Ad terrorem clause? Or haven't I been watching?

 
Old Jul 5, 11, 1:16 pm
  #1  
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Change in TOS? Ad terrorem clause? Or haven't I been watching?

I searched for this, but couldn't find anything on point.

I recently went on line to book a rental car, settled on Budget as the best priced, and reserved. When I printed out the reservation, I noticed something at the bottom in the "mouseprint":

If your plans change and you no longer require the rental, you must cancel this reservation before the scheduled pick up time or you will be charged a $75 US fee ($50 US for a pre-paid rental).
I haven't seen anything like this before with respect to general car rental reservations (as opposed to those where you pay in advance and they guarantee you the car you've reserved). Usually, the mere reservation (with nothing down or paid in advance) is not truly binding on either side; usually it is considered polite to cancel if you can't make it or change your mind, but not required and certainly not on penalty of what appears clearly to be a "penalty" rather than liquidated damages.

Anyone seen this before? Anyone had experience with Budget trying to enforce it?

Thanks.
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Old Jul 5, 11, 1:33 pm
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Avis and Budget have been quietly doing this for a while now. This is not a cancellation charge per se, but rather a no-show charge. The exception is certain corporate contracts, where a very large company brings in so much business, it offsets the no-shows.
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Old Jul 6, 11, 12:36 am
  #3  
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Interesting, thanks!

Speaking of Avis, I also reserved with them yesterday for another trip and their reservation doesn't have a similar provision.

So how would Budget work it? Send you a bill to your e-mail address and hope you pay it?

(A "no show" charge would be in the nature of liquidated damages, seems to me, but since there's no actual obligation on the rental car company to have the car you "reserved" available, I wonder how they would get away with this.)
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Old Jul 6, 11, 6:48 am
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Originally Posted by Counsellor View Post
Interesting, thanks!

Speaking of Avis, I also reserved with them yesterday for another trip and their reservation doesn't have a similar provision.

So how would Budget work it? Send you a bill to your e-mail address and hope you pay it?

(A "no show" charge would be in the nature of liquidated damages, seems to me, but since there's no actual obligation on the rental car company to have the car you "reserved" available, I wonder how they would get away with this.)
It would also be tough if you aren't signed into FastBreak/RapidRez/AvisPreferred - you don't give any information that would let them determine it was you. Anybody with your email address and phone number could make the reservation without telling you, and Avis would have no recourse.
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Old Jul 14, 11, 5:11 pm
  #5  
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I think they added this to their legal verbiage last year when they were trying to lead the rental industry into this practice, but since they couldn't get consensus from the other major players in the industry (everyone wants to do it, but no one wants to be the first bad guy), they haven't started enforcing it. I suppose it could start at any time, but I really wouldn't worry about it.

That said, it's always polite to cancel reservations you don't plan on using, so if this threat makes people more likely to do that, it'll allow Avis Budget to better plan their inventory and hopefully have more cars available for the reservations that actually do show up.
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