Mr. Brown,

The National Business Travel Association (NBTA) would like to point out that while the addition of fees described in “Adding Extra Fees: What’s the Law” in the January/February issue of Auto Rental News are legal under the requirements mentioned in the story, we believe these fees are unfair to rental car customers and are strictly used as a profit center.

Itemizing these fees not only undermines the car rental industry’s reputation and integrity, but it also contradicts the consumer-friendly concept of bundling. Bundling is popular because it promotes transparency and “out-the-door” pricing for customers weary (and wary) of last-minute add-ons that exorbitantly drive up the cost of car rentals and create additional accounting and expense management costs for corporate clients.

The car rental industry should look to the recent implementation of airline ancillary fees as a cautionary tale. Because passengers were repeatedly asked to pay more add-on, unbundled fees last year, the industry was soon fighting customer complaints and bad press, and is still doing so to this day. As a matter of fact, U.S. Airways this month rescinded its $2 charge for soft drinks, admitting that it put the airline at a “disadvantage.” This experience shows that fees frustrate customers and ultimately push them to alternatives.

NBTA urges the auto rental industry to consider the impact on car renters and the rental car industry when implementing these fees, no matter the legality. To protect the integrity of the industry, separate line-item fees should be properly calculated, disclosed in advance, and should not serve as a profit center.

The National Business Travel Association (NBTA) is the world’s premier business travel and corporate meetings organization. NBTA and its regional serve a network of more than 15,000 business travel professionals around the globe with industry-leading events, networking, education & professional development, research, news & information, and advocacy. NBTA members, numbering more than 4,000 in 30 nations, are corporate and government travel and meetings managers, as well as travel service providers. They collectively manage and direct more than US$200 billion of global business travel and meetings expenditures annually on behalf of more than 10 million business travelers within their organizations.

Bill Connors, CTC
Executive Director & COO
National Business Travel Association