Home Rental Cars What If Your Rental Car Company Overcharges You For Tolls?

What If Your Rental Car Company Overcharges You For Tolls?

by joeheg

Paying for toll roads and bridges/tunnels has become more complicated in recent years. More and more locations depend on toll-by-plate systems to send you a bill or otherwise use a transponder in your car to keep track of how much you owe. If you go through a toll in a rental car, the bill for the toll goes to the rental car company and eventually gets charged to your credit card. Rental car companies have turned this into another way to augment their revenue stream and often add huge surcharges to rentals even if you only go through one toll during your rental. We’ve written about how you can try to avoid these charges by renting from a company that charges a fair rate for their toll payment services. But what if the car rental company sends you a bill after your rental for tolls you know you didn’t go through?

2013_George_Washington_Bridge_from_West_187th_Street_and_Chittenden_Avenue

By Beyond My Ken (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Steve, our friend and reader of YMMV let us know about how he received a charge of $141.50 on his credit card several months after he rented a car from Hertz at Philadelphia Airport. Upon seeing the charge hit his Citi credit card, he called the bank to put the charge into dispute, as he knew he hadn’t gone through tolls that would equal that amount during the rental. Citi researched the claim but responded by reinstating the charges claiming that Hertz proved he was the one who made the charges and the bill was valid.

Here’s where things become difficult. How can you prove to a bank that the company that charged you is wrong? I had a similar instance with a rental car company when they insisted that I was responsible for returning a car with a full tank of gas when I only rented it with half of a tank. Steve did a smart thing and requested a copy of the itemized bill from Plate Pass, Hertz’s company to process toll payments. He also kept a copy of his rental statement from Hertz.

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Quite clearly on the rental car bill, his rental in Philadelphia started at 1:24 PM and the first toll on the Plate Pass statement was for the George Washington Bridge at 2:03 PM. That’s a 112 mile trip in 40 minutes, without going through any tolls before hitting the GWB. Anyone who’s ever driven through New Jersey in the middle of the afternoon knows that it is pretty much impossible to do.

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Steve also supposedly managed to rack up this toll bill over 4 days and still managed to return the car to Philadelphia with only 178 miles on the odometer.

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Even with this mounting evidence in his favor, the companies could not solve the problem easily. At first, he called Citi and they told him he’d have to resolve it with Hertz. When calling Hertz, they told him he’d have to resolve this issue with Plate Pass. Eventually, Plate Pass agreed the toll charges on his rental didn’t add up and they would issue him a credit. This was in November. He still didn’t receive a credit on his charge card so he called Citi to dispute the charge again claiming that Plate Pass agreed the charge was incorrect. It remained that way until the beginning of January when Steve finally received a check in the mail with a refund in the amount of the total charges of the tolls from the rental. There was no explanation given, just a check in an envelope.

While this story eventually was resolved in Steve’s favor, you can see how difficult it was to prove he was in the right. What if he had driven the car for more miles, or even worse, actually drove it to New York? How would he have proven those weren’t tolls he had gone through?

I shared this story to show that it’s possible to win when arguing with banks and travel companies, even if they make things difficult. It may take more time and much more effort than should be required to prove you’re right, but persistence pays off in the end.

A tip of the hat and a huge thank-you to Steve C. for sharing his story.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

 

6 comments

Satej January 18, 2018 - 3:58 pm

I had a similar situation with hertz in cabo. I was told that the estimate of charges would be around $306 USD but when I finally saw the bill it was around $470. I was very surprised and disputed it with bank of America. However they got back to me in a month’s time that the charges were right and I was liable to make that payment. I at once wrote an email to hertz corporate complaint email and about three weeks later i got a refund from hertz Mexico apologizing for their mistake and a refund of $179 USD back to my credit card!

Reply
Dustin Evans March 31, 2019 - 2:56 pm

Rental car companies are slime 90% of the time.

Reply
Christian March 31, 2019 - 6:38 pm

This has me worried. I’m renting from Hertz in a couple of weeks in Europe and don’t want to hit any similar circumstances. Any specific advice for Europe?

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joeheg March 31, 2019 - 10:37 pm

I wouldn’t worry too much. I’m sure the systems are different in Europe and while this experience was with Hertz, I could happen with any rental company.

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Enore Antonio Bondan Filho April 1, 2019 - 4:27 pm

Don’t mix diesel fuel with gas!!! And watch out for cities that have tolls in the historic parts.

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swag November 1, 2020 - 10:32 am

I had Alamo try to charge me over $100 for a photo ticket violation. Checking with the fining agency, though, showed that the ticket was for the same day but 6 hours before I picked up the car. When I sent this to Alamo, all I got was a curt “our records show the violation was yours”. I disputed with the credit card, and Alamo never replied to them, so 60 or 90 days later, it was resolved in my favor. So no loss except my time, but it really bothered me that Alamo never apologized for their mistake.

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