Dollar Thrifty Faces Class-Action Claims

Accused of adding extra charges onto rental car contracts and violating consumer protection statutes, Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group (DTAG) is facing class-action claims from customers that could advance to trial. According to the McKinnon and Tool v. Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group case, Sandra McKinnon and Kirsten Tool are suing the rental company for allegedly defrauding them and other customers in California and Oklahoma.

After allegedly orally declining additional services such as damage waivers and insurance, the plaintiffs claim that Dollar employees misled them into checking boxes on the electric signature pad that actually added the extra services.

For example, the complaint alleges that because the agent didn’t discuss the total amount charged at pickup, McKinnon was charged an additional $359.65 (from her original online reservation rate) when she returned the car, according to the McKinnon opinion.

“Plaintiffs suggest that defendants rely on the hustle and rush of airports to send their customers away without having reviewed their rental charges, thereby giving defendants a basis for claiming that their customers routinely agree to the add-on charges,” according to the opinion written by U.S. District Judge Samuel Conti.

On July 3, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California refused to dismiss all the class-action claims against DTAG.

“Based on plaintiffs’ reasonably specific pleadings, defendants have a national scheme involving providing low reservation rates and then tricking customers into paying more once they pick up their cars,” according to Conti's opinion. “… Defendants’ conduct is more than mere endemic dishonesty — it is actionable under the unfair competition law as an unfair and fraudulent business practice.”

In addition, Conti found that DTAG’s online reservation confirmation should be viewed as a contract: “Defendants’ refusal to honor the confirmation price in anyway, and in fact to convince plaintiffs of the price’s validity and then alter it secretly, was a breach.”

By Amy Winter



  1. kaitlyn [ July 22, 2013 @ 02:42PM ]

    Well, lets be real here people. How many of us just sign a legally binding contract without reading it? Of course, if you rent cars that often you already know what you are looking to avoid being charged, and coincidentally do not get charged these extra fees. How can you be "told" to buy something? ESPECIALLY if you have to sign that you AGREE. Come on people get with the times. It may be an electric screen, but if you choose not to read or can't read...i'd honestly be more worried about you driving around than getting one pulled over on you for not reading the fine print on a CONTRACT.

    The only way i see this lawsuit as being plausible is if in the surveillancefootage at these locations actually capture some random guy (of course has to be a paid employee of Dollar/Thrifty) running up behind these people and forcing them to sign. Other than that wildly improbable chain of events, there is no reason YOU the customer are too in a hurry to read over the charges YOU will incur, unless of course like so many business travelers YOU DONT CARE. And THAT is your problem not this business. Maybe this is a new-age way to tell people to slow thier life down to review the cost-incurring things...If you cant read then you have a case...but not a court case. Seems more like a case of selective conciousness to me.

  2. Rich [ July 31, 2013 @ 12:33PM ]

    This case is absurd. I rent cars frequently and I know two things, 1; when you make a reservation online, that is not a contract and the total is only an estimated amount because taxes and fees are different everywhere and 2; the products that are so called forced on the customer are optional and you should pay attention while the agent discloses the the terms of the contract. At Dollar Thrifty you have to accept the or decline on the machine before it can be finalized. So, if you think or feel it's been forced on you, you didn't pay attention and you have to hold yourself accountable. It's your money pay attention!

  3. T [ October 26, 2013 @ 12:39PM ]

    Since I am a former employee of Dollar/Thrifty, I know that they add things on, trick customers and try to get things by the customer to make money. I'm so glad to be out of a business that is generally dishonest all the way up to the franchise owners.

  4. SirPierre Antoine [ January 25, 2014 @ 10:52PM ]

    I just received a notice of having a 25.5 plus $15 dollars admin. fee that was added to a rental that I had from Thrifty last year. Of course this is nonsense. The rental car was driven by myself only. I do not know of any toll fare in norther california that is 25.5 dollars. Now thrifty is asking for 115.5 dollars stating that they paid it for me.

  5. Bogdan [ February 19, 2014 @ 12:28PM ]

    Dollar Rent-a-Car is a very tricky and scrupulous company.

    Let me give you two examples:

    Rome Fiumicino Airport - Dec. 2013, they charged us aditional Euro 17,00 for fuel saying: "this is company's new policy to charge Euro 17,00 even if the fuel tank is full" ... new profit generating idea

    Dubai Airport - Jan. 2014, Mr. Zubair of Dollar and his team charged us for 2 mm long crack in the windscrean though it was present at the moment of collection of the car. I noticed it to late, when I was on the way from the airport to the hotel and in very heavy traffic. They did not check all the car but found targeted immediately this place of tiny damage. They are crooks and we were for sure not the first customers to be cheated.

  6. ddfiske [ October 15, 2014 @ 06:18PM ]

    I would like to bring a class action suit against dollar/hertz rental for defrauding me and others. Please email me with your claim. Put"Car rental thieves" in the subject line. I want this to go to the highest level. I want to make them PAY!!! Thankyou!

  7. Martin [ January 26, 2015 @ 05:58AM ]

    I was lied to about the insurance I bought that it would cover all that might happen to the car.BTW who are these plants who commented above?

  8. Tom [ May 7, 2015 @ 06:38PM ]

    Car rental contracts is just a way to get more money from us. I believe they are deliberately complicated, and the whole setup with long lines for car pickup is like the old car dealer trick to get you tired and make you to pay whatever. Back to the subject... dollar does sneak in unnecessary charges like "road assistance" at $6 a day, after waiting long time in line and declining all options I didn't notice it and feel they took advantage of me. Sue them, car rental is a simple business, especially in US.

  9. Renee [ May 18, 2015 @ 02:04PM ]

    I returned my rental vehicle 2 weeks ago, recieved a receipt, and went on my way. I am now recieving threatening phone calls demanding that I return the car or face legal action. A bit of digging online reports numerous other consumers being accused of keeping their rental car. I will sue them so fast their head will spin.

  10. Vicky [ May 20, 2015 @ 06:38PM ]

    defiske, I am online now searching to find a class action suit against Thrifty or want to start one also. Need your actual email address to email you and it doesn't show up on this page. I have a little I've $2 in toll charges but $45 in administrative fees. Crazy!

  11. Kyle [ May 24, 2015 @ 08:04PM ]

    They will get you one way or another. I recently rented a car from dollar anchorage international airport. Waived their overly priced insurance. Drove the car approximately 30 miles to my hotel and parked it. Next morning I discovered a flat from a small screw, and put the spare on. Called dollar and they told me to return the car for a replacement, which I did. About three weeks after returning from my trip I received a bill for $838.00 for the repair, which included $135 for a new tire plus the 20 days the car was out of service waiting to be "repaired". They should be charged with running a criminal enterprise. Or fail due to their incompetence and mismanagement.

  12. Ronald Rios [ May 29, 2015 @ 01:55PM ]

    On May 19, I rented a Dollar car for five hours. I also receved the customary receipt and went on my way. After a while, I was socked on my credit card statement for $339! When I called, I was told I " "used the car for a week." This is impossible since I flew in and out of Dallas that very same day! Either their accounting system takes no account of whatever the receipt handed to you, OR there is deliberate fraud going on among the employees.

  13. Al [ June 20, 2015 @ 09:02AM ]

    I rented the car on 6/9 @9:49, at the Pensacola airport. I returned it there, parked it in one of the "Dollar" spaces in the underground lot, on 6/13. I handed the keys to the clerk, who commented on the fact that it was a small car, and that she was in need of small cars. I am not aware of what happened to the car after that.
    I have rec'd two phone calls telling me that you'll contact the police if you have to, to get the car back. I have tried to reach someone, only to find that your offices are CLOSED! on a Saturday...interesting. I now consider this matter closed. RA# QY102879-0

  14. sandra [ July 18, 2015 @ 02:12PM ]

    Thrifty did a classic bait and switch two times on a recent trip. I signed up for a kia rio which was to have 4 doors,trunk to hold 2 suitcases and 5 passengers. when I got there they only had a Fiat! This happened in Boston and Norfolk,VA. When we went to the garage in Norfolk we looked for a Fiat and there was neither a Fiat or a Rio.
    I was forced to upgrade both times. I am complaining to the FCC consumer complaints.

  15. Laurie [ October 26, 2015 @ 06:00AM ]

    I am always amazed at the amount of people that hope to profit as a result of their own stupidity. People don't read or understand what they are signing, never read their bills when dropping off their cars, or simply hand the keys to a stranger!!
    Somehow, I feel it would be difficult to find a single case of a customer who was 'duped' into purchasing additional insurance, and then got into an accident - but didn't use the insurance, because that would be dishonest.

  16. M [ July 5, 2016 @ 06:51AM ]

    Wow, some of you people are stupid. I've never been charged more than I agreed to pay for a rental car. But they tried to trick me almost every time. I had to argue with a guy for 15 minutes because after skimming my contract and realizing it is wrong, he assured me I wasn't going to be charged anything extra. Some guy up there said this lawsuit is absurd. What an absurd statement. Someone said the total is only an estimate. I hate armchair lawyers. Take the bar exam before you start making things up. It's not an estimate. It's the exact price. Estimate is borderline deceptive. They have to honor the reservation price. There's no law that says they have to have enough cars in stock. There's no law that says you cannot modify your reservation and allow them to recalculate your price and no longer honor your price. "Estimated" is not an estimate.

Comment On This Story

Comment: (Max. 10000 characters)  
Please leave blank:
* Please note that every comment is moderated.


Newsletter: Sign up to receive latest news, articles, and much more.

Read the latest

Auto Focus Blog: A blog covering fleets, auto rental and the business of cars

Market Forces Driving Car Rental in 2018

An analysis of the conference calls of Avis Budget Group and Hertz Global Holdings reveal trends and initiatives involving fleet right sizing, pricing, ancillary revenue opportunities, and renting to ride-hailing drivers.

Trends Moving the Truck Market

Storylines that emerged from the 2018 Work Truck Show include the increasing need for on-site productivity, inclusion of active safety systems in trucks, DPF frustrations affecting product decisions, data management, and the growing link between fleet management and company revenue.

MIT Study Reinforces the Newfound Importance of Fleet

Uber and Lyft drivers make far less when factoring vehicle expenses, though the actual numbers are now in dispute. A proper lifecycle cost analysis would’ve helped, and shows the benefit of collaboration with fleet professionals.

Job Finder: Access Top Talent. Fill Key Positions.