Car rental companies fight consumers with fees and hassles


I know that car rental companies are having a hard time with people driving less. Their stocks are falling. But their absolute warfare against their customers fought with ridiculous fees and soul-crushing hassles can't be helping. There's hope that the gas refueling charge will go away, but it seems like Avis is trying to recoup their potential losses with pet hair and other absurd fees.

Last month I wrote about how I had figured out that Avis considers a Vibe a small SUV and in the SUV-hating mania priced it lower than a compact car, even though the it got better gas mileage. I figured that it couldn't work out that easily, surely the folks at Avis would try to force us into another car. And I was right. They did try to get my husband to take a much larger SUV, but lucky for us when they couldn't find it after 20 minutes, they let him take the vehicle we had actually reserved.

My husband and I have a deal: I drive in and out of Manhattan, his ultimate idea of torture. He picks up and returns the rental car, my seventh circle of hell. We both feel like we are getting a bargain. This time, however, since I had run the gas down to the point where the gas light was on, I went with him to return it. We always get the pre-pay fuel option just to avoid their refilling hassles--though once had to pay them when the clerk insisted we didn't. So I was feeling like a consumer champion driving in with the tank so empty. If I could have willed it to run out of gas when I pulled in, I would have.