National Car Rental Changing Price Of TollPass Service

I never used to look at emails that told me about changes to Terms and Conditions (T&C). I mean, I couldn’t do anything about the changes they were making and most of the time they didn’t affect me, anyway. But I’ve recently started to read them a bit more carefully and I just discovered a change that National has snuck into the Emerald Club Rules.

My Spidey senses were activated when the email started with this picture.

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Dear Emerald Club Member,

Thank you so much for your business. We wanted to inform you that we are making some changes to the terms and conditions you agreed to when you joined Emerald Club®. For additional information regarding the changes to the terms and conditions, please see the FAQs posted on the website. The good news is the benefits you receive from your Emerald Club membership are not changing. Your membership level and how you achieve membership tier status will stay the same. You will keep all of your rental credits, and the way you earn credits and redeem free days remains unchanged. Furthermore, Emerald Club services, such as counter bypass and Aisle access, remain the same.

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If they’re going so much trouble to tell me what hasn’t changed, I felt I needed to click to the FAQ page and focus on what has changed.

What changes have you made to the Agreement?

The following is a high level summary of the key changes to the Emerald Club Agreement. It is meant as a brief overview and not as exhaustive list of all changes to the agreement. You are encouraged to review the entire agreement before making your next Emerald Club rental.

Emerald Club Program:

  • Modified list of non-participating Enterprise locations in the United States and Canada
  • Clarified language regarding the Partner Rewards/Frequent Traveler programs
  • Added Mandatory Arbitration Agreement for US and Canadian Residents

Master Rental Agreement:

  • Clarified language regarding TollPass Convenience charges
  • Updated Location Specific Disclosures and Notices for CA, MN, NE, and NY
  • Modified Rental terms for Costa Rica, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom

Uh-oh. What clarifications have they made to the TollPass Convenience charges?????? After all, we’ve noted this is one way car rental companies collect crazy fees when you accidentally drive your rental car on a toll road.

Thankfully the internet makes it really easy to sort through two documents and find the changes. Here’s the differences in the TollPass paragraphs between the year end 2017 T&C and the current T&C as posted on National’s website (underlines for emphasis).

Here’s the 2017 version:

(5) A Tollpass convenience charge (TCC) (where available) of up to $7.00 per day of Rental Period for each day Vehicle is operated on a Tollpass Automatic Service covered road and Vehicle operator does not pay an applicable toll. Total TCC charges will not exceed $35.00 per Rental Period. In addition to the TCC, Owner or a third party may separately charge Renter’s credit or debit card for each toll (or other charge) not paid by Vehicle operator incurred during the Rental Period at the higher of the applicable toll authority’s cash toll rate or highest undiscounted toll rate. A current listing of Tollpass Automatic Service covered roads is available upon request, at “www.htallc.com/national” or (877) 860-1283. Operation of Vehicle on a roadway or bridge not covered by Tollpass Automatic Service where applicable tolls are not paid may subject the Renter to Fines, Tolls and Violations, see Section 3.d(4) above. RENTER EXPRESSLY AUTHORIZES OWNER OR ITS AFFILIATES TO TRANSFER RENTER’S NAME, ADDRESS, CREDIT CARD INFORMATION AND ALL OTHER DATA NECESSARY TO ENABLE THE COLLECTION OF ALL SUCH AMOUNTS.

And here’s the 2018 version:

(5) A Tollpass convenience charge (TCC) (where available) of up to $5.00 per day of Rental Period for each day Vehicle is operated on a Tollpass Automatic Service covered road and Vehicle operator does not pay an applicable toll. Total TCC charges will not exceed $25.00 per Rental Period. To avoid the TCC, Renter may (i) use toll-free roads and bridges, (ii) pay tolls with cash (where applicable), or (iii) use any of the other methods described in our toll brochures and at https://www.nationalcar.com/en_US/car-rental-faqs/use-toll-lanes.html, which vary by toll road/bridge. In addition to the TCC, Owner or a third party may separately charge Renter’s credit or debit card for each toll (or other charge) not paid by Vehicle operator incurred during the Rental Period at the higher of the applicable toll authority’s cash toll rate or highest undiscounted toll rate. A current listing of Tollpass Automatic Service covered roads is available upon request, at “www.htallc.com/tollpass” or (877) 765-5201. Operation of Vehicle on a roadway or bridge not covered by Tollpass Automatic Service where applicable tolls are not paid may subject the Renter to Fines, Tolls and Violations, see Section 3.d(4) above. RENTER EXPRESSLY AUTHORIZES OWNER OR ITS AFFILIATES TO TRANSFER RENTER’S NAME, ADDRESS, CREDIT CARD INFORMATION AND ALL OTHER DATA NECESSARY TO ENABLE THE COLLECTION OF ALL SUCH AMOUNTS.

Wow, I’m really surprised! Besides updating the phone number for TollPass, National actually lowered the price of their TollPass service?!?!?! They now charge up to $5 a day with a max of $25 per rental period, down from $7/$35. National also provides a link to their website page that describes toll roads in each part of the U.S. (as some areas, like Florida, have even lower rates). They also show ways to avoid the toll fees, although some are common sense like, “don’t drive on toll roads.”

Kudos to National to lowering the price of a service that doesn’t cost them much to provide in the first place. Passing this lower price on to renters is a way to differentiate themselves from the pack. Previously, Silvercar had been the only other major industry disruptor in this area by not charging any extra fees when you go through a toll in one of their cars; they only charge the cost of the toll to your credit card. We used this perk when renting from them in NY/NJ and while the tolls weren’t cheap, we didn’t have to pay anything extra for the privilege of driving through the Lincoln Tunnel.

Final Thoughts

I’d like to think our article about crazy toll charges had something to do with National making these changes in the TollPass charges but I’m too realistic for that. It’s just a market driven decision to lower prices compared to their competitors’ (overly high) charges for the same service. Cashless toll booths are becoming the norm and charging customers an extravagant fee if they drive on one of those roads is a sure path to providing poor customer service, and I’m always in favor of any customer friendly change.

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