Photo via Wikimedia/SPUI

Photo via Wikimedia/SPUI

The Florida Attorney General’s office obtained a court enforceable settlement agreement with Avis Budget Car Rental System, LLC which owns the Avis, Budget, and Payless car rental companies.

The settlement agreement resolves an investigation by Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office regarding Avis, Budget, and Payless’ practices involving add-on fees for cashless tolls in Florida and other related add-on charges, according to a news report from the attorney general’s office.

Bondi’s office investigated allegations that Avis, Budget, and Payless did not sufficiently disclose to consumers that they would be charged a daily fee for the companies’ e-Toll service, in addition to the cost the customer incurs for a toll on a cashless toll road, according to the report.

The rental companies imposed this charge for each day of the rental, even on days the customer did not use a cashless toll road. Unaware of the e-Toll fee or how to avoid it, many consumers received bills from Avis, Budget, or Payless four to six weeks after concluding their rental, advising of the additional charges owed. 

The settlement agreement requires Avis, Budget, and Payless to clearly and conspicuously disclose its $3.95 per day charge to consumers who rent an Avis, Budget, or Payless car, according to the report. The companies must clearly disclose on their websites, in their online reservation paths, in their confirmation emails, and at the rental counter the existence of the $3.95 per day charge as well as how consumers can avoid this charge. 

The companies must also train employees to make sure they are not telling consumers that the only way to pay for tolls in Florida is through their e-Toll system, or telling consumers that all toll roads in Florida are cashless, says the report. Additionally, the companies are required to provide consumers with truthful information about damage waiver products. The rental car companies must clearly and conspicuously disclose the cost of any damage waiver product and cannot impose a damage waiver fee when the consumer has declined coverage.

The companies also may not charge consumers for a higher car class when the car class reserved by a consumer is unavailable, and the per day cost of any car class upgrade must be clearly and conspicuously disclosed, according to the report.

Since the Attorney General’s office commenced its investigation, Avis, Budget and Payless have provided more than $1 million in refunds to consumers. The settlement further requires the three companies to provide refunds to any consumers charged for e-Toll without sufficient disclosures, who have not already been reimbursed and who file a claim for a refund, says the report.

The consumers must have been wrongfully charged for e-Toll by Avis, Budget, or Payless during the period Jan. 1, 2010 through July 10, 2017. All claims must be filed by Jan. 7, 2018.