The Right Coast

December 02, 2005
Consumer Alert
By Maimon Schwarzschild

Twice in the past fortnight I have rented cars from Budget Rent A Car. (I've been travelling; or as they say in the government, I've been "on travel".)

After my second rental, I noticed that Budget charged me $9.50 for "fuel service", even though the people at the desk had told me to fill up the tank myself before returning the car, which I did. Now I looked back at my first receipt and sure enough, there was another $9.50 "fuel charge", although I had filled the tank then too, as instructed.

When I eventually got through to a human(oid) at Budget's 800 number, my interlocutor said that of course the charges would be refunded. I said, "If it were just once I would have assumed this was a mistake, but it happened twice, in different cities". He said, "Well, it's our policy to make this charge, unless the customer objects".

In other words, you are warned to fill the tank or you will be charged an extortionate refueling fee. You fill the tank. They check to make sure you have filled the tank. Then they charge you $9.50 anyway, hoping you won't notice.

Keep an eye out, if you rent from these people.