Yellow Light At The Intersection Of Zipcar And Local Government

It’s over between Warren and Zipcar. He’s had a lot of little annoyances with their service, but the last straw was when they automatically charged him for a moving violation ticket, plus their own administrative fee, when he had already gone to court and paid the ticket.

He received this e-mail from Zipcar, dated July 28th:


We have been notified of a Moving (red light) violation that occurred during your reservation with Malvern at Leroy St, Jun 27th, 8am to Jun 28th, 8am. The violation was issued by New York, NY, on Jun 27th, 9:25am (violation # xxxxxxxxxx).

To view a copy of the original violation, please sign in to your Zipcar account and use the following link:

As a result of this violation, Zipcar has charged $72.00 to your account. This includes payment of the violation, any late fees, and an additional fee of $20.00, which helps us defray the cost of processing. If you have any questions about the violation, please contact the issuing municipality directly. For additional information about Zipcar penalties and policies, please go to, or access the Member Help Center from the help menu on the reservation screen.

This is all very well and good, except for the minor detail that he had already paid that ticket directly. He wrote back:

I did get a moving violation on Jun 27, although
fortunately it didn’t involve any traffic lights. Anyway, I already
paid the full fine ($130) to New Paltz Town Court on Jul 20, so I’m
going to initiate a credit card fraud action against you (Zipcar) to
recover the $72.

Was this unreasonable of Zipcar? Warren thought so. Observant readers will notice that nearly three weeks passed before Warren was able to pay the fine directly to the town, and Zipcar automatically charged his account for a ticket one week after that—one month after the ticket was issued.

If the ticket was $130, where did Zipcar get $52? Do they get some kind of bulk discount?

Lesson learned: Pay traffic or parking fines as quickly as you’re able when renting a car.

(Photo: *Brujita*)

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.