Lawsuit Claims Dollar Rent A Car Charged Customers For Options They Specifically Declined

A doctor from Florida claims that Dollar Rent A Car charged him more than $250 for options he had explicitly told the company he did not want — and he believes he’s not the only one who has been hit with these unasked-for charges.

According to the suit, filed in a U.S. District Court in Denver, when the doctor rented a car from Dollar at Denver International Airport, he says he specifically told Dollar employees that he did not want any additional insurance on the vehicle.

But when he checked his receipt after returning the car, he saw that he’d been charged $215.91 for insurance coverage, along with $53.91 for roadside assistance — an option he says he hadn’t even been offered.

The doctor claims that when he contacted Dollar, a supervisor told him there was nothing that could be done because the company allegedly had an electronic signature from him accepting the insurance coverage.

This was the same reason given by his credit card company when the doctor attempted to dispute the charges.

The doctor, who subsequently received copies of the original contract, claims that his signature was forged by someone at Dollar.

“This is a case where Dollar has organized a scheme to defraud consumers to increase revenues,” the lawsuit alleges. “The company’s employees and agents constantly trick consumers into buying insurance they did not want.”

The plaintiff seeks more than $5 million in damages and is asking the court to grant class-action status for the suit.

Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, tells the Denver Post it “denies the allegations and intends to defend the case vigorously.”

Doctor who rented car from Dollar at DIA sues over added charges [Denver Post]

Thanks to John for the tip!

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

    Does his copy of the rental agreement show the boxes not checked?

    • AzCatz07 says:

      Good question. It seems there is something missing from this story.

    • benminer says:

      Bet he left in the glove box.

    • pdj79 says:

      Enterprise tried to pull a similar scam on us this past Spring Break. I wasn’t there to pick up the car, but I made sure to have my wife call me so I could walk her through anything she didn’t understand. When asked if we wanted insurance, I instructed her to decline. They pushed her several times but I had already made sure that our insurance would cover so it was all good. She signed the contract and received her carbon copy. I inspected it when I got off work and it looked all good.

      Fast forward 5 days later when I went to return the car. I originally was supposed to leave the car on the lot the night before and drop the keys off in their night drop box but I NEVER trust that as then the phantom damage claims roll in. I wanted to go over the car with the agent and get it signed off BEFORE I left. We did the inspection, everything was good. I had opted to pay in cash instead of just charging the card so I had the ~$230 in hand ready to pay. The agent then proceeds to tell me that the total was ~$324. I asked for an explanation as to why it was so much and he quite plainly stated that my wife had requested insurance. I denied that was the case and he proceeded to show me the original copy of the contract, which showed a check in the box for insurance and a price written next to it. I noticed immediately that the check and the price were in blue ink, while my wife’s signature, initials, and several other markings were in black. The agent explained it away by saying the black pen must have run out of ink, to which I countered that the signature, which would have come AFTER all fees were disclosed, was in the same color as the rest of the contract, so that says that the insurance was added to the contract AFTER the fact. I asked for his manager, who started to back up his claims. Luckily I had the carbon copy of the contract with me. It took 2 seconds for the manager to quickly mumble to the agent and walked back to his desk and the agent asked for the ~$230. What a f*cking scam!

  2. CanadianDominic says:

    After reading some Consumerist stories about car rental damages, I did a full video-recorded walk around after I picked up the car, and before I dropped it off with my iPhone to keep as evidence.

    Should we now be photographing rental agreements after signing them, before handing them over to the clerk?

    • chatterboxwriter says:

      I didn’t have a video camera, so I used a phone to take pics of all the dings and dents when I rented a car in Orlando last year. The rental agent was MAD, but I didn’t care. She kept trying to hurry me along, saying “All the damage is recorded already.”

  3. OthelloAndreus says:

    On every rental car contract I have ever signed there is a box marked “Declined” that must be initialed for all the various types of insurance offered. A copy of this document is given to you when you rent the car. Did the doctor not keep this document?

  4. dolemite says:

    Our legal system at work: “I’ve been defrauded of $250. I require 5 million.”

    • spartan says:

      The $5 million is an estimated value of what the class action suit could potentially be worth. The actual amount would be based on however many people Dollar screwed.

      • dolemite says:

        In that case: “I’ve been defrauded of $250. I shall receive $1.25″

        • PBallRaven says:

          And the lawyers will get 4.5 million.

          Add Dollar to the list of companies adding “no class action lawsuits” clause to their rental agreements.

  5. maestrosteve says:

    They do it. Dollar Rent-A Car has done it to me. I’m pretty sure I know exactly how it happened with this Doctor. When I said I didn’t want an insurance plan, they said “OK, you just want the basic coverage, right?”. I took that to mean basic charges, no extras. I should have said I wanted NO insurance, NONE, because they put on the rental agreement something like $25 a day for their basic insurance, which is not what I wanted. When you are signing the electronic pad, the options go by fast and they tell you as the screens are coming up to just X the boxes or sign that screen because this is what you just agreed to. It is deceptive. When the insurance screen came up, it was a mile long, I didn’t entirely read it, and the person said that this is the basic coverage that I agreed to and where to sign. I got to my hotel and looked at the entire rental agreement, which I’m sure that most people don’t do because they know what they just asked for and signed, and noticed the $25 charge a day and immediately phoned their office, but they told me that because I already drove the car off their lot, I was responsible for at least that day, and they could take the charge off for the next day.
    It’s really my fault that I didn’t read every word on that long rental agreement but I was also deceived. I could have read the rental agreement entirely before I signed anything, but they know you just came off of a long flight, want to get to your hotel, there’s a long line of people waiting behind you, and they know how to use all that against you. I gave them the slightest amount of trust by not reading every word, and it backfired on me. It won’t happen again. Live and Learn.

    • maestrosteve says:

      There’s no editing here so I couldn’t change it, but what I meant to say was when I said that I didn’t want an insurance plan, they said “OK, you just want the basic, right?”

    • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

      So then he probably did sign the agreement, and now he’s claiming he didn’t.

      Deceptive, certainly. But his account of the events as they happened is then false. Frankly, the whole “someone forged my signature and I have reason to believe they forged millions of others” does seem way off to me. But “they scroll the options by you at a rapid speed and don’t explain them sounds very plausible. And sue-able.

    • SilentAgenger says:

      Enterprise used the same sneaky tactic on me (with the term “basic”), and I fell for it…once. I didn’t catch it until I turned in the car and noticed a larger-than-expected charge. Luckily, they were quick to remove the insurance charge once I brought it to their attention (I explained that I never intended to opt for any additional coverage, and the indication suggesting otherwise was a mistake). I blamed myself for not being more aware, and vowed to pay more attention next time (which was a good thing because they tried it again on my next rental).

    • Robert Nagel says:

      You should have shown up with a $499 dent in the car and thanked them for the insurance screw up as they revised the contract going forward.

    • pegasi says:

      these places should have the terminals list confirmation of the fee for each option very simply, so the fast talking employee can’t try and push you into what you don’t want…
      Example:
      Insurance Option: Basic supplemental coverage $25 per day,

      next screen: Sign here to agree to pay $25 per day for basic supplemental insurance
      _____________________

      or if you didn’t agree…. Initial agreeing waiver of coverage:______________

      If it was that simple… no scamming possible…. it says plainly what you’re paying for… full signature for agreement, initials acknowledging decline.

  6. jessiburkham says:

    I know the rental company I worked for would write you up if you mentioned roadside assistance being added to the charge it was one of those only remove it if the customer specifically requests it off deals. I believe him knowing some people are not honest when it comes to earning your commission

  7. SirWired says:

    I’m thinking he’ll have a tough time proving his signature was forged. A better thing to do is read, and save, the rental agreement you drive off with. That will have ALL charges they’ll legally be able to stick you with.

  8. who? says:

    He’s totally got a case. I’ve had the exact same problem with the exact same Dollar location. I travel to Denver a lot, and stopped using Dollar for this exact reason.

  9. cigsm says:

    I would have “accidentally” hit something on my way back.

    • rgf207 says:

      reminds me of the Seinfeld episode;

      Agent: Alright. We have a blue Ford Escort for you Mr. Seinfeld. Would you
      like insurance?

      Jerry: Yeah, you better give me the insurance, because I am gonna beat the hell
      out of this car.

    • Robert Nagel says:

      You have to watch that. They will go after your insurance carrier and only cover your deductible.

  10. jsodano says:

    I think the OP is reaching with claims of forgery, I tend to agree with other commenters that suggest some tricky wordplay by the counter jockeys. That said, the first lesson of car rentals is that if you carry a full boat on your own personal auto insurance, OPT OUT of the rental coverage.

    • Robert Nagel says:

      Use a Diners Club card. It provides first dollar coverage. Total the car and they pay for the whole accident. Your personal insurance doesn’t have to pay anything.

  11. Budala says:

    Electronic signature, how does that hold up in court?

    Oh they have my electronic signature for that agreement that wasn’t given to me before I signed it, well I do want to give a copy of the declaration of independence to the court to with my electronic signature on it. I want it to be displayed in Washington for everybody to see.

    Was just last night at Bally’s and signed up for a month to month plan. Signed 3 times electronically in a box, wasn’t given any agreement beforehand. They sent me an email later with 5 PDF attachments that I still need to read and I’m sure if there is something I don’t agree upon in those pages I’ll just do chargeback and problem solved. Have them take me to court and try to prove their case.

  12. lancedriftwood says:

    Thrifty got me for about $200 in Costa Rica. Told me it was their Federal Law. If I refused the coverage my ‘option’ was to walk 40 miles on a dangerous dark road at 10:30 at night to my hotel with 3 other people and luggage. I also tried to appeal to Thrifty and then to my credit card with no success. Extortion. Note- Thrifty and Dollar are the same company.