The hidden fees of rental cars

Sewa Mobil Pekanbaru >> Have you ever shopped for a rental car, thought you found a great deal, only to find when you checked out that the initial rate becomes a lot higher?

The airlines now have to disclose the real price of tickets up front, so how come car rental companies don’t?

Frequent car renter Barry Maher says comparison shopping for the cheapest rental deal online can be frustrating.

“The prices are very often quite deceiving and it can be very difficult,” he said.

That’s because many major car rental web sites work like this: You find you could rent a small SUV for about $47 a day. But when you go to check out, and all the fees are added, that price jumps to more than $73.

A compact car on another car rental web site is listed for a low price of about $14 a day. But when you go to reserve it, the real price appears and jumps to more than $26, nearly doubling the price of the advertised price of car.

“I gotta admit my blood boils, it gets me upset,” said Maher.

The American Car Rental Association says those extra fees upset them too.

“This is one of the challenges we face as an industry, our consumers experience sticker shock,” said Bob Barton with the American Car Rental Association.

Barton says many of the fees are out of the company’s control. Depending where you rent a car, the state, county or local community may be trying to make extra cash with car renters fees to help pay for things like sports stadiums, convention centers, road construction projects and budget shortfalls.

The association says across the country, more than 100 car rental excise taxes have been passed, costing renters more than $7.5 billion.

Consumer advocates say car rental companies may have no control over cities or states driving up fees, but they do have control over disclosing the real price of the car up front.

“Car rental companies tell you one price, get you all excited about it and then wind up charging you significantly more,” said Edgar Dworsky with ConsumerWorld.org.

How can it happen? Unlike airlines, rental car companies aren’t required to disclose extra fees up front. Only one major U.S. car rental company, Enterprise, is showing you the fees as you comparison shop.

The Car Rental Trade Association says so many communities have different surcharges it’s tough to breakdown, and sometimes the fee is based on the value of the rental car.

“We disclose what we know as best as we can,” said Barton.

Frequent traveler Barry says not knowing what extras he’ll have to pay for up front drive him crazy, and he has a message for car rental companies.

“Isn’t it much better customer service to let them know exactly what that bottom line is on that car?” he asked.

The Car Rental Association says fees are now charged in 43 states and the District of Columbia.

There’s a bill pending right now in Congress that would prohibit additional states or local governments from passing any new excise taxes on car rentals.

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