Have you noticed that anytime a company charges something labeled a “convenience fee,” it only angers customers more? For example, a recently filed class-action claim alleges that car rental biggie Avis didn’t fully disclose the details of the convenience fee it charges customers who rent vehicles equipped with E-Z Pass devices.
Since not everyone is aware of the E-Z Pass brand, it’s one of those systems that allows vehicles to pay highway and bridge tolls electronically via a device that is usually placed on the windshield above the rearview mirror.
In a lawsuit filed in New York County Supreme Court, the plaintiffs allege that, “While other taxes and fees are disclosed in the rental agreement and other documents, the fees for using the [E-Z Pass] are not disclosed in the rental agreement or during the rental process.”
When customers sign the agreement with Avis, the document only states, “If you use a car with automatic toll payment capability, you will pay us or our toll program administrator for all tolls incurred during your rental period and all related fees, charges and penalties.”
The complaint calls this wording:
deliberately ambiguous… A reasonable person could easily conclude that the ‘related fees, charges and penalties’ are based on the actual costs of the device which could mean the actual tolls and other charges for the proper (or improper) use of the device (e.g. backing up in the toll lane or some other fineable behavior). A reasonable consumer could easily interpret the term ‘related fees, charges and penalties’ to mean charges relating to the tolls, not charges related to the rental of the ETD (which are nowhere mentioned). Had Defendants’ wanted to clearly let people know that there was an additional rental cost to using the ETD, they could have easily done so.
According to estimates in the lawsuit, around 1,000 Avis customers in New York would be part of the plaintiff class.
We asked Avis to comment on the lawsuit, but a company rep says it is Avis policy to not comment on pending litigation.
Avis Hits Customers for E-ZPass Use, Class Says [CourthouseNews.com]