McCollum settles with Avis, Budget

Nick Rees Dec. 15, 2009, 3:49pm


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Legal Newsline) - Two rental car agencies have reached an agreement with Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum over allegations that they did not clearly inform customers about the terms of usage for toll plaza passes.

Under the agreement, car rental companies Avis and Budget will provide Floridians who rented cars from them between March 1, 2008-Sept. 30, 2008 with refunds for fees charged for their "Plate Pass" service for days when the service wasn't used.

The "Plate Pass" service is provided by Avis, which owns Budget, to car rental customers to help them avoid waiting in lines at Florida toll plazas. Instead, customers receive a bill for the amount of the tolls with a fee for use of the feature added on, McCollum says,

An investigation by the Attorney General's Economic Crimes Division showed that Avis, upon initiating the plate pass service, only billed customers for days when the plate pass was used. Beginning in March 2008, McCollum alleges, the policy was changed so that if the service was used just once during a rental term, the customer was billed a $2.50 fee per day for the remainder of their rental period

The investigation began following complaints from customers that they were not clearly informed that they would be charged for use of the plate pass for days on which it was not use. Avis cooperated with the investigation and made voluntary changes by September 2008 to clearly disclose that once the plate pass is used, customers will be charged a daily fee, even for days on which it is not used.

The recently reached agreement contains injunctive relief that requires Avis continue to clearly and conspicuously inform customers that they will be billed for plate pass, even for days when it is not used.

Additionally, Avis will refund customers who were billed for days plate pass was not used from March 1, 2008-Sept. 30, 2008. Avis also agreed to make a $10,000 contribution to the Florida Law Enforcement Officer of the Year fund as part of the agreement.

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