Dollar Charges Us Twice For Car Rental — How Do We Get Our Money Back?

Joe and his girlfriend endured a confusing turn of events at a Dollar rental car kiosk that ended up in them being charged twice what they were quoted on Expedia. Stuck in a corner without other realistic options, they paid the inflated price and are now looking for a way to get their money back.

Joe writes:

My girlfriend and I are on vacation. We had made rental car arrangements through Expedia for Dollar rent a car at the Minneapolis airport.

The reservation was for a compact car for 4 days. When she got to the counter they had her reservation, but [redcated] (the guy working the counter) offered her many things that she said no to (like an upgrade). I arrived in the middle of this and standing next to her between his soft voice (she asked for him to repeat himself several times) and the noise from the line of people behind us he was hard to understand. She said no to the upgrade from compact to full size,as well as several other options. He then had her press accept on the terminal keypad several times to complete the transaction. Through all this he was (I believe) trying to explain what all the small print was in reference to but I could not hear or understand him either.

When we got to our hotel and looked over the bill (much higher than the reservation was for) we attempted to call but were transferred to India, and then to other offices who could not assist us. Finally we got a number for the Minneapolis dollar location, but they were closed.

It seems as she pressed accept on the keypad, they are now telling us we have no options for recourse (not even exchanging the car for a compact).

This is the first time we have rented through dollar and will be the last if we can not get this resolved, as price is twice what the reservation was for.

Can any consumerist readers offer any assistance?

OK, Consumerists, shower Joe with your money-retrieving advice. And kids, if you’re not happy with the price you have to pay for a service, do everything you can to hold back payment until you’re satisfied, because otherwise your negotiation options will be limited.

UPDATE: Joe says Dollar assured him he’ll be getting the quoted price for the rental.

Comments

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  1. Buckus says:

    Chargeback!

    • fantomesq says:

      The chargeback would fail – they have the OP’s signature on the final contract which shows the exact prices… The OP doesn’t even tell us why the final contract price came out higher but chargeback is not the answer.

  2. Southern says:

    The (estimated) price appears before the ACCEPT button does, so you should have noticed that the price was double what it should have been long before you pressed ACCEPT. If something wasn’t right, I would have asked him right then and there what the cause for the price difference was.

    • Difdi says:

      Yeah, pressing ACCEPT just because a guy trying to upsell you something told you to press it, without actually reading what you’re accepting, is just begging to be a victim.

    • msbask says:

      So true. This cannot be stressed enough. Read what you’re signing!

    • fantomesq says:

      I don’t understand – if the price was twice what you were expecting, why did you accept it? You’re pretty much stuck as you agreed to the changes to the contract.

  3. djc_819 says:

    Didn’t they notice the difference in price before accepting the payment? I was under the impression that the full amount appears before you even click OK on anything… that’s there specifically to make sure you are paying the right amount. Once I noticed that the amount on the debit machine was 500 something rather than 50 something. It was an accident by the cashier who immediately fixed it when I pointed it out…

    Next time make sure you know what you paid and for pete sakes, speak up if you can’t understand the representative! How hard is that??

  4. trentblase says:

    So was the price higher because of extras or because they just decided to charge more for the same rental?

  5. FeelinFroggy says:

    Snds lk y nd t grw pr nd sm Q-tps wld hlp s wll….. Whn y bk smthng th rt s thr n prnt nd n th systm. smpl ” dn’t wnt nythng thr thn wht rsrvd” wld sffc. h nd ctll pyng ttntn t wht y sgn nd gr t mght hlp s wll.

  6. raybury says:

    Firstly, figure out what is different. In some cities what appears online as a $200 car rental can easily appear as $280 on your credit card after all of the taxes on rental cars.

    A likely culprit is the “pre-pay” gas option, where you buy a full tank first at what appears to be a good price per gallon, but get less than a great deal unless you use so much of “your” gas you have to push it the last 100 yards back to the rental place.

    • trentblase says:

      Whenever I have extra gas left over, I siphon it out and sell it to the next sucker. After all, I paid for it!

  7. Ed says:

    Just be thankful you didn’t agree to wear a puffy shirt!

  8. Speak says:

    This is one reason that I always look at my copy of the bill before I leave the rental counter. I have more than once gotten a wrong price based on what I had bought online. I always make sure to have a printout of what I agreed to pay with to show the person behind the counter. If they don’t change it, I don’t move and don’t let the counter person leave me alone until it is fixed, even if that means them waiting for a supervisor to come in from the parking lot. The paperwork you agreed to online is a contract, and if they change it, they could be in legal trouble if you don’t agree to the changes.
    If all else fails, contact your credit card company and make sure you include your confirmation in the documentation you send them.

  9. pantheonoutcast says:

    “When we got to our hotel and looked over the bill…”

    You didn’t look over the bill in the rental location? You paid for a rental and didn’t once look at the invoice until you left?

    “they are now telling us we have no options for recourse (not even exchanging the car for a compact).”

    So which car did you get? A full size or a compact? Why would there need to be an exchange?

    Step one in resolving the matter: Rewrite this complaint omitting all the frippery about how the clerk’s voice was hard to understand, and instead substitute the facts. How much was the rental reservation for? How much did you spend? What kind of car did you drive away with?

    • thewritejerry says:

      Yeah, it seems to me that they drove of in a full-size car:

      “It seems as she pressed accept on the keypad, they are now telling us we have no options for recourse (not even exchanging the car for a compact).”

      When they got outside and saw that it was not a compact car, they should have at least looked at the bill then.

  10. AllanG54 says:

    Unfortunately airport and other fees can be murder and they’re not always quoted in the price for the car. They can literally equal as much as a day or two of the rental. OP should check to see that this is not what’s causing the bill to be so high. Also, if he was quoted X dollars for the car then that’s what should be on the agreement. If there were added charges for insurance and such that’s another story and I doubt that he’ll get those taken off.

  11. eglasius says:

    A very similar situation happened to us, but with europcar in hermosillo, mexico.

    We said we only wanted what we reserved, no extras.

    On the information we were presented there was No total estimated price, and the only rate mentioned matched what we were told we were going to pay daily / which closely matched what we reserved online.

    Above said, we missed the fact that what they had us sign had the extra options / which we didn’t understand and the way it was mentioned to us was referring to non optional items and no mention of a charge or price was said. Note that according to the reservation we had, all non optional items/charges were included in the price we were being quoted.

    When we returned the car, we were presented with an insane amount (3 times+), which we didn’t accept. We tried negotiating it with them, since it was completely wrong. We ended up receiving a well above 2 times charge on our credit card, without us signing anything else than the original voucher we had opened on the day we picked the car.

    Tried chargeback, went to our favor. Another month passed, and we had the charge again on the card … bank/cc reversed the decision.

    To this day we are out of the money (has been a year).

    ps. was a long rental, so that made it extra hard for us.

  12. curmudgeon says:

    Wasn’t this an old Seinfeld episode where he had to wear a puffy shirt on tv because of a “low talker”? Just changed the location.

  13. aloria says:

    Title is misleading– I came in thinking they were double billed, but what really happened is the charges were 2x higher than they expected.

    I am with everyone else who said it’s their own darned fault for at least not checking the bill before they left the rental place. Wouldn’t their BS sensor kick in once they saw they were getting a full car after they turned it down?

    • TacoChuck says:

      This happens all the time. There is high demand for small cars for the fuel econ so they run out of those first. They will try to up sell you to the full size, but when you decline they give it to you anyway for the sub-compact rate because that is all they have. It aggravates me to no end because I don’t feel like fueling a full size when all my single self needs is a sub-compact.

  14. bben says:

    I rent cars nearly weekly. The quoted price is always only for the car. When they get you in their clutches you find you have to pay for gas (at an outrageous markup) – unless you fill it up , 3 kinds of insurance (decline) Emergency road service (decline), special taxes – airport surcharges, out of town sucker taxes ( that’s what I call the 8% ‘special’ tourist tax they charge to out of towners) federal tax, state tax, city or local tax, special airport access tax, and probably a few I forgot. It can easily double the final charge on a rental car.

  15. Rajabear says:

    OP might also want to check that the price on the bill isn’t including any holding fee’s. Most rental companies will put a hold on your card for a certain amount (typically 200-500). I have had some recipts total show this hold amount added on.
    And yes, often your reservation price through a 3rd party site doesn’t include the rainbow of taxes that get added on.
    Rule #1: Never leave without checking your paperwork first. This includes checking yourself that any scratches or dents were correctly marked

  16. coren says:

    They were not charged twice for the car rental. They were charged more than they expected, twice as much to be specific. They weren’t charged two rentals, even if they could pay for two with that amount of cash.

  17. maynurd says:

    Last year while on a work trip to San Jose, CA I was ripped off for an extra day’s rental charge from Enterprise. I had rented a car for the weekend and they were supposed to come and pick up the car at the hotel on Monday. But because Enterrise did not come to pick up the car until Tuesday, they charged me for an extra days rental. I called Enterprise several times to explained the situation, and each time was told a refund would be issued for the extra charge. Of course the refund never came.

    This was all arranged for at the time I rented the car, and the same arrangement was made with several other people on the same trip. The car was at the hotel, and in the location that they had told me to park it at for the entire day. They just found a way to steal an extra days rental on a car by not picking it up.

  18. maynurd says:

    Last year while on a work trip to San Jose, CA I was ripped off for an extra day’s rental charge from Enterprise. I had rented a car for the weekend and they were supposed to come and pick up the car at the hotel on Monday. But because Enterrise did not come to pick up the car until Tuesday, they charged me for an extra days rental. I called Enterprise several times to explained the situation, and each time was told a refund would be issued for the extra charge. Of course the refund never came.

    This was all arranged for at the time I rented the car, and the same arrangement was made with several other people on the same trip. The car was at the hotel, and in the location that they had told me to park it at for the entire day. They just found a way to steal an extra days rental on a car by not picking it up.

  19. j_rose says:

    The title is misleading. They didn’t get charged twice. That implies the company charged the same amount twice.

  20. WorksatDollarRentaCar says:

    I would like to help but the lack of specifics and details makes that difficult.

  21. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    If she accepted the payment, there isn’t much to be done.

  22. The Horror... says:

    I’ve had a very similar experiance with Dollar at the Fort Myers, Florida Airport counter. (the soft voice! Is that a company policy or what?) I went through their typical “try to ungrade you with a bigger car and additional insurance routine”, I said no to everything and when I went to pay with my credit card the price I saw was DOUBLE what I agreed to on expedia. I asked to speak to the manager and he basically told me to get lost and he then walked me off. Needless to say I took my business elsewhere. Dollar needs to appreciate paying customers more…

  23. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Me: No I don’t want your insurance.
    Enterprise dolly girl: Well, why don’t you just try it for a couple of days and see if you like it?

  24. human_shield says:

    What would help would be to see the bill in it’s entirety. All the state taxes and fees can easily double the price of a car rental. I found that out myself the hard way also. However, Expedia usually estimates those costs pretty well I’ve found (I rent through them a lot) so there’s no way to tell what happened without seeing the contract/bill.

  25. crazydavythe1st says:

    It does sound better when you say “they charged us twice!” over “they charged us a higher amount than quoted, but we agreed to it, and now the more we think about it, we want to take it back”

  26. parabola101 says:

    Good Luck!…

    I think it’s a “business strategy” used by the rental car industry.

    I WISH someone (with a bite) would investigate the car rental industries product/service quotes and sneaky slimy charges especially the quotes received at the airports car rental courtesy phones and the sudden changes when picking up the car…

  27. Row7 says:

    Thanks to everyone for their assistance, I am now back home and able to do more than send an email from my phone..
    I would like to address some of the comments made.
    I did not pick the title for the article, and agree it is misleading. I would have gone with twice quoted price, as that was more accurate. As quote was about $200 and paperwork showed about $450.
    I agree that things should have been looked over before leaving their location, but being in a hurry after a delayed flight will cause people to do silly things.
    In the end we did get assistance from the manager at the location to get the correct pricing, car and ‘options’ (like not having the prepay gas added).
    But to do this we wound up calling a completely different Dollar location who had a direct phone number for the location we went to (as listed numbers were not correct) and 800 service which lead to a call center in India was not helpful at all.