There are plenty of rental car horror stories, enough that it makes some people go for things like Turo or just use ride-sharing to avoid them. This is one of those stories and it involved Avis charging a woman over $6,000 because they said she drove almost the same distance as the circumference of the world – in just 3 days.
Avis Charges a Customers $6,000 for Impossible Driving
Yes, as you can imagine, that is absolutely impossible to do. In the 68 hours that she had the vehicle, a Yukon Denali, she would have had to have been driving at a speed of over 320 miles per hour for the entire rental.
For sure, that didn’t happen! This particular customer had flown to Toronto from Vancouver and picked up the Denali at the Toronto Pearson International Airport. Her purpose was to help her daughter move and she drove a total of just over 100 miles.
It was after she dropped the car back at the airport and was on her way to catch her flight that she saw the receipt with the over $6,000 charge. Being a frequent renter, she was used to dropping off the keys, getting her receipt, and going. In this case, it was not good at all and obviously a computer error.
Yet, her attempts to get it resolved did not work. It was not until a news channel stepped in and asked Avis for comment that Avis said they would refund her for the charges (within 3-5 business days, of course). And this wasn’t just a hold on her card, either. The charge had actually posted to her credit card.
Beyond the absurdity of this and the fact that it did not trigger some warning, what is equally appalling is the total lack of customer service for something like this. Had North Shore News not asked for comment, who knows how long it would have taken Avis to do the right thing. She certainly could have filed a credit card dispute but that would have taken 45 days for her to get her money back.
My Own Experience With Avis Overcharging
I had something similar happen to me a few years ago (though not nearly as expensive!). We had a long layover before a big trip so we rented a big SUV and took off to some local sites and parks. We also had a baby and it was over 95 degrees outside so my wife stayed with our sleeping baby in the vehicle with the A/C.
I knew we would drive less than 75 miles so this would be the only time I would ever take advantage of the Avis fuel policy (if you drive less than 75 miles, you do not have to fill the tank and you pay a flat fee of $15.99. If you do fill it, you need to show a receipt or they charge it anyway).
Since we ran the A/C the entire time we had the vehicle, we were down well over half a tank. This would have cost us likely $40-50 in fuel but I knew that I would only have to pay the $15.99 fee since we had driven like 45 miles. Fast forward and they e-mailed me later to tell me they had “misread” the mileage upon return and they were charging me $300 for the fuel (because of their re-fueling markup). Their claim was that I had driven over 700 miles.
I finally found a sympathetic customer service rep who agreed with my math. Having the car for less than 6 hours and with them claiming I had driven over 700 miles showed the absurdity of their “amended” mileage claim. The agent even said that this happened more than I would expect. I’m sure…
When you rent a car, you have to take steps on your own because the rental car company will not always be as thorough as you (the one who will have to pay if something is wrong) would be.
Always make sure you take pictures and video of the car before you leave the lot. If there is anything concerning, talk to the agent right then. Check the odometer and make sure it matches the paperwork you were given. Do the same upon returning – keep your fuel receipt from refueling just before drop-off, take pictures of the receipt, take another set of pictures/video of the car, make sure the agent does a walk around then, etc. Yes, that is a bit of work but it could end up saving you in the long run. I have been saved a couple of times by doing this.