City Attorney Dennis Herrera has sued the Hertz Corp. and its business partner American Traffic Solutions Inc. for misleading customers and engaging in unlawful, unfair, and fraudulent business practices, according to a report by the City Attorney of San Francisco website.
The lawsuit alleges that the car rental company was charging steep toll fees to rental car customers who crossed the Golden Gate Bridge. According to the lawsuit that Herrera filed on March 1 in San Francisco Superior Court (People of the State of California v. The Hertz Corporation), Hertz fraudulently induced its customers to purchase an “optional” tool service called PlatePass for crossing the Golden Gate Bridge.
On other California toll bridges, PlatePass is a service that permits Hertz customers to bypass cash toll lanes and use the electronic FasTrak lanes without having to create a FasTrak account.
But on the Golden Gate Bridge, which went cashless four years ago, Hertz customers allegedly neither choose the service nor receive sufficient notice to avoid it, according to the report.
By driving over the Golden Gate Bridge one time, Hertz customers were charged not only the undiscounted toll rate of $7.50 but also up to $24.75 in extra fees, says the report. That means that many customers paid a $32.35 bill to cross the bridge once, which is more than four times the toll rate.
Additionally, Hertz allegedly doesn’t charge and disclose these fees on the receipt it provides to customers at checkout. According to the report, Hertz supposedly provides its customers’ personal credit card information to a third party who slips in the charge later.
The lawsuit alleges that the Hertz Corp. and American Traffic Solutions Inc. engage in false advertising and unlawful business practices in violation of several state and federal consumer protection laws.
Herrera’s lawsuit seeks a court order halting these deceptive practices, restitution (with interest) to victims, and civil penalties of up to $2,500 against each defendant for each unlawful act.