A colleague of mine just finished renting a car with AVIS and 3 weeks after he finished submitting his Expense Report, he got a bill form AVIS for $10.90 (the amount is not meaningful here). The detail around this was that it was for admiinstrative and toll charges. He paid all the tolls on the trip with cash, so this came as quite a surprise. Unbeknownst to him was that in the fine print there was a note saying that there is $4.50 a day administrative charge for tolls as there is a SUN PASS or EZPASS device already installed on the car.
Point is with AVIS, you should decline this in advance, letting them know that you will be paying all of the tolls yourself.
The 'SUNPASS or EZPASS' references tell me that the rental was based in Florida where these two systems exist. In Florida...and especially along the Florida Turnpike (central Florida area) there are many exits that have no toll booth staff. It is 'EZPASS orSUNPASS only' or 'have exact change'. Those exits are really problematic to many for obvious reasons if you don't have either with you.
The toll charge in the fine print of the rental contract only comes into play when the device is used. You can't decline it...you have to ask for a car that doesn't have the device installed. Now, if a toll (exact change) is paid in the bin and it doesn't register properly the plate number is searched. If the plate belongs to a subscriber (that car did because it had the device) the toll is charged to the owner of the device. Hence, the owner (Avis in this case) then passes the toll along to the renter and implements the daily fee for the device. Avis also has (and should have passed along) the date, time and place of any toll infraction.
Unless your co-worker has a receipt for the infraction time noted there is nothing that can be done to refute the charge. But, at least your co-worker will know where the 'problem toll booth' was.
But, look on the bright side...in Florida, an unpaid toll infraction carries a penalty of $100 plus the toll plus administrative costs. But, a car with a subscribed plate only gets the toll charge as not recorded as paid. If it was a faulty booth and they were in their own car or a rental car that didn't have the device, it would have been the $100.....and there's no fighting city hall, as they say.
Even if the rental wasn't in Florida, other states also do the same thing.
Some cars have the device attached to the inside windscreen with velcro, so you can pull the device out if you don't want to use it. I don't know about rentals. I would probably appreciate having the device, just so I could breeze through the toll without stopping, in which case I certainly wouldn't mind the toll bill (assuming I was aware of the device and hadn't double paid in the bin), but I feel that the 'administrative fee' is a bit of a rip off.
In Newport Coast (and now that my sister lives up the hill from the MVCI) whenever I go down there, I'm always wishing that I had a fasTrak device just for that purpose, even though I'm only down there a couple of times/year. (In fact, thanks for reminding me.)
I can't believe the rental company wouldn't have pointed this out to the customer. That's pretty unsatisfactory. It takes time and experience to figure all of this stuff out as a consumer, and unless one was a frequent renter in the area, one may very well not know. Thanks for posting the warning.
(Tef, the exact situation happened to me in Newport Coast once, where the toll booth was un-manned, all I had was a twenty, and the change maching at the booth would only change up to a $5 or $10 note. Of course the sign warned that violators would be fined $75. Stuck between a rock and a proverbial hard place.)
Rental car companies encase the devices in a metal box on the windshield. If you want to use the device for tolls one just pulls on the bar on the side of the unit to expose it for toll payment. If you never pull the device out, you are not charged for anything. Pulling the device out for toll payments and going through the toll booth using that device activates the system that charges you for the tolls.
Now, rental companies charge an administrative fee for the tolls because they do pay to have the device put in. They are not free. Hoowever, the BIG asset that a renter has is that, if you miss a toll or you just decide not to pay.... the toll system just charges the owner (Avis in this case) the amount of the toll missed. The toll evader (or if an honest mistake is made) does not get charged the $100 fee that is levied when someone tries to not pay a toll. Just because that rental car has a plate that is part of the system the renter gets a huge break from not paying the $100 charge for missing a toll. If I get a car that has the system, I'll take it. There is nothing to lose when having the device.
What I do in Florida and the east coast when traveling is I use my own device and just hold it to the windshield when I go through a toll. If, by some chance, the rental company charges me for something (and I have never been charged), I have my own record from my device that shows I paid the toll.
No... and two issues that go with that statement:
One, if I don't use their device they can't charge for anything related to that device. The rental company CANNOT charge you an administrative fee or anything at all just because that device is in your rental car. The ONLY way they can charge the admin fee is if you USE the device. Second, if I am charged 'after the fact' and if I have a record of having paid the toll that I am being charged for it is up to the rental car company to dispute the issue with the toll folks.
If the renter didn't use the unit and it was charged by a plate toll infraction that's improper they (rental company) have to solve the problem.
You are not charged any administrative fee for that device unless you use it.
Well, my colleague didn't use the device as he paid cash for all of the tolls, but because he signed the agreement, and this device is part of the agreement, he was charged the administrative fee and the tolls. So going forward, i gather that the solution with AVIS is to select a car without the device in it.
There is another issue at play here with your colleague. If the rental car company was going to charge for the device, they would have done it when the car was returned. Because the charge came in weeks later....something happened that triggered the device and the admin fee. If your colleague has an issue with the fee as sent after the fact, your colleague should ask SPECIFICALLY what triggered this charge as he did not use the device. They can't charge the fee without a complete explanation and production of the billing they received that is being passed on to your colleague.
This is good to know. I rented a car in FL from Alamo in April and it had a device. I cash and have not heard so I guess I am OK. After this, I will get reciepts and keep them for while. It seems to me that having a device is good and just keep reciepts if pay cash. On my car, I paid the fee on the first 3 tolls and then just the toll amt.