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Birdwatching
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RANT: Forced To Pay For Rental Car Gas Tank In USA

Wed Feb 16, 2011 6:29 pm

Ok, what is going on here?

For the last 10 years I have been renting cars frequently on various continents, and it ALWAYS used to be that you get the car with a full tank of gas, and you fill up just before you return the car, and everything's fine.
In the last 3 months I have made about 10 rental car bookings in the USA and in most cases there seems to be a new rule, across various different rental car companies, that you HAVE to buy one tank of gas, so you are forced to return the car as empty as possible if you don't want to throw away money. Which is not an option if you rent the car for one or two days and drive a hundred miles. This encourages you to drive extremely wasteful, heck I sometimes feel like either racing around the block 10 times just for the hell of it; hey, why not even siphon out MY gas that I paid but am about to give away.

What's up with this? I have only seen this in the USA, and it appeared recently. But across the country and at various companies.

Where is the outcry by the customers? Has ANYBODY ever noticed that this can easily double your cost on a one-day rental?

Soren   
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dragon6172
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RE: RANT: Forced To Pay For Rental Car Gas Tank In USA

Wed Feb 16, 2011 6:35 pm

I've always rented with Budget and they give you three options usually:

Return it full: $3 per gallon (whatever local price is)
Buy a tank up front: $5 a gallon
Return it empty: $10 a gallon

I understand why they charge so much if you return it empty... they pretty much have to pay someone to go fill it up. Never seen them require you to buy the tank of gas up front though. Would not surprise me in this day and age of companies penny pinching.
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Flighty
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RE: RANT: Forced To Pay For Rental Car Gas Tank In USA

Wed Feb 16, 2011 7:25 pm

I have never heard of that. Buying the tank is usually a rip-off because you have to be psychic about (often unfamiliar) distances to go exactly empty without filling. It's a huge INCONVENIENCE to buy the tank!

Much more convenient to drive around, return it full and everything's fine. It's also, by any measure, always the cheapest option.
 
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KaiGywer
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RE: RANT: Forced To Pay For Rental Car Gas Tank In USA

Wed Feb 16, 2011 7:37 pm

I rent with Avis quite frequently and they have the same options as Budget in Reply 1, but in addition they have a rule where if you drive less than 75 miles, they just charge you $13.99 flat fee unless you provide a receipt of a fuel purchase.
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LAXintl
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RE: RANT: Forced To Pay For Rental Car Gas Tank In USA

Wed Feb 16, 2011 7:44 pm

I rent regularly most often one-day rentals and have not experiences anything like that. I rent the car with a full tank, and return it with a full tank.

However one thing in recent year is Avis has a policy which they seem to enforce more often is where you must supply a receipt that you purchase gas during short distance rentals. In otherwords they don't want you to drive 50-miles for free and return the car without topping it off again. Without a receipt they charge some flat fueling charge.
From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
 
PHLBOS
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RE: RANT: Forced To Pay For Rental Car Gas Tank In USA

Wed Feb 16, 2011 7:52 pm

I think you might be misinterpreting what the rental company is actually offering you as an convenience option. That option (which has existed for several years among most rental agencies BTW) being that one prepays for the customary return fill-up without having to stop at a nearby filling station prior to returning the car.

To some, this option is more of a convenience (making one less stop); for others, less of a hassle. Keep in mind that not all airports have a neaby (less than 1 mile) gas stations; this can be frustrating for one who's unfamiliar with the area trying to look for a station before returning their car.

My last rental car experience was over at BNA last September and I was NEVER forced to buy fuel from the counter.

Here are 2 examples of fuel options from rental car companies.

From Hertz:
What refueling options does Hertz offer?

Hertz has three refueling options available to meet your needs:

You may purchase a tank of gas from Hertz at time of rental and return the vehicle with as little gas as you prefer. Please be aware that we are unable to issue a refund for unused fuel. However, this method eliminates the need for you to refuel the tank prior to returning.

You can let us refuel for you and only pay for the fuel required to replace the fuel you used, and for the service and convenience of refueling the tank.

You can stop and refuel the tank yourself, immediately prior to returning the vehicle.

* Different policies apply in the states of Hawaii and Maryland. Check with the renting location for local pricing.

TAXES AND CONCESSION FEES, WHERE APPLICABLE, ARE EXTRA. Refueling and fueling programs are subject to modification or termination. The above fueling options are available at participating locations in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and St. Thomas, V.I.
https://www.hertz.com/rentacar/reser...rvationOnHomepage.jsp&defaultTab=1

Another example, from Avis:

Refueling Options

Fuel Service Option

Self-Service

EZFuelTM and Fuel Service Charge

Fuel Service Option: Save yourself time and frustration by adding our Fuel Service Option to your next online reservation. By selecting the Fuel Service Option, you can purchase a tank of gas directly from Avis at the time of rental, and avoid the hassle of searching for a gas station to fill the tank before returning the car.

If the Fuel Service Option isn't exactly what you're looking for, choose one of the following refueling options at the time of rental:

Self-Service: Purchase fuel just prior to returning and return the car to Avis with a full tank of gas. If you choose this option, Avis will not charge you for fuel.

EZFuelTM and Fuel Service Charge: Driving under 75 miles? With our newest refueling service, customers who drive less than 75 miles pay a low flat fee for fuel and return the car without refueling. We'll automatically charge you a flat fee of $13.99. If you present a receipt for the purchase of fuel, the charge will be removed at the time of return.


https://www.avis.com/search/SearchMa...tion_id=395&question_box=refueling

I hope this helps/clarifies things.
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airportugal310
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RE: RANT: Forced To Pay For Rental Car Gas Tank In USA

Wed Feb 16, 2011 8:16 pm

I always rent with Enterprise and never had/have this problem. Always the usual options...

Whats so hard about filling up the tank on the way back? Do some quick HW of where there is a gas station near the airport or wherever you are and there's no problem.
“They bought their tickets, they knew what they were getting into. I say, let 'em crash.”
 
Brick
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RE: RANT: Forced To Pay For Rental Car Gas Tank In USA

Wed Feb 16, 2011 8:46 pm

Yeah, I think the OP is confused.

No major rental car company makes purchasing a full tank of fuel mandatory.
A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man...
 
signol
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RE: RANT: Forced To Pay For Rental Car Gas Tank In USA

Wed Feb 16, 2011 9:06 pm

Only once have I ever rented a car without the rent-full, return full policy, and that was on the island of Jersey. There, it was rent empty, return empty. I picked the car up and the fuel gauge was hovering on E, but no light. I filled up straight away on exiting the airport, and that tank lasted the full week we were there (it helps that the island is only 6 x 10 miles!) So this does exist, but never having rented a car in the USA I can't comment on the mandatory purchase of a full tank of fuel.

signol
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Tugger
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RE: RANT: Forced To Pay For Rental Car Gas Tank In USA

Wed Feb 16, 2011 9:14 pm

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 4):
However one thing in recent year is Avis has a policy which they seem to enforce more often is where you must supply a receipt that you purchase gas during short distance rentals. In otherwords they don't want you to drive 50-miles for free and return the car without topping it off again. Without a receipt they charge some flat fueling charge.

I have encountered that too in recent years. Once I was in a rush to get back and the pump didn't print the receipt and there was a line at the window so I just left. The rental return attendant said he had to charge it (even though the tank was full and I had put over 150 miles on the car and the weird thing was he said the receipt had to be dated that day). I had no choice and no time to press it so I left it as it was. I wasn't happy but was confident I could get it removed. So when I got back to work I called Budget corporate and had them remove the charge.

Tugg
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srbmod
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RE: RANT: Forced To Pay For Rental Car Gas Tank In USA

Wed Feb 16, 2011 9:34 pm

In the last few years, I've rented from Hertz and Alamo and was never forced to buy a tank of gas at the time of rental. At the time booking (as well as when picking up the rental) I was given the option to pay $X, or $X/gallon, or return it with a full tank of gas. I've never heard of a company requiring you to pay for a tank upfront. Either there is a misunderstanding here or there's an agent at a rental car place doing something not completely above board.
 
HAJFlyer
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RE: RANT: Forced To Pay For Rental Car Gas Tank In USA

Wed Feb 16, 2011 9:34 pm

After renting cars in the US app. 40 times over the last decade (always with pre-paid all-inclusive vouchers bought in Europe that cover unlimited miles, CDW insurance, liability insurance, taxes, airport facility charges and so on) and I never experienced anything like it until last October with National at MIA.

The guy at the counter even showed me his data entry screen in order to "prove" the he could not disable the mandatory purchase of one tank. He told me that this rule applied only to certain fares - I assume the pre-paid vouchers sold overseas.

To0 bad for National - by doing this they lost me as customer for good. I was really mad since I rented the car for two days only and returned it with a half full tank.

[Edited 2011-02-16 14:07:09]
 
JakeOrion
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RE: RANT: Forced To Pay For Rental Car Gas Tank In USA

Wed Feb 16, 2011 9:52 pm

Never had a problem at my local Enterprise rental. Always bring it back with a full tank, with receipts, show it to them, no problem. No additional fees, coverages, zip. Heck, if I get a vehicle with half a tank and bring in back with a full tank, they reimburse me some of the costs of the gas (receipt provided.)

However, I can say this applied only up to two years ago, as I haven't had a need to rent since then.
Every problem has a simple solution; finding the simple solution is the difficult problem.
 
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WildcatYXU
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RE: RANT: Forced To Pay For Rental Car Gas Tank In USA

Wed Feb 16, 2011 10:16 pm

Quoting Brick (Reply 7):
No major rental car company makes purchasing a full tank of fuel mandatory.



Budget at YCG always puts the charges for a tank of fuel into the rental agreement and removes it when I show them the fuel receipt.
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stratosphere
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RE: RANT: Forced To Pay For Rental Car Gas Tank In USA

Wed Feb 16, 2011 11:13 pm

Quoting PHLBOS (Reply 5):
think you might be misinterpreting what the rental company is actually offering you as an convenience option. That option (which has existed for several years among most rental agencies BTW) being that one prepays for the customary return fill-up without having to stop at a nearby filling station prior to returning the car.

Thats exactly what happened to me last summer when I flew into HPN and rented from National. They ask you if you want to prepay for gas..I said no I will purchase gas and return it full like i always do..BIG MISTAKE this time. When I got back to HPN I started looking for gas stations and couldnt find a one and was almost out of gas..I wound up dropping it off empty. On my next credit card statement man did they spank me good. I might just opt for prepay mext time.
 
JBirdAV8r
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RE: RANT: Forced To Pay For Rental Car Gas Tank In USA

Thu Feb 17, 2011 12:00 am

I've never heard of a "mandatory" charge. Maybe it was a miscommunication. I use the Hertz #1 Club Gold and Avis Preferred and have never, ever had a problem with that.

Quoting stratosphere (Reply 14):
Thats exactly what happened to me last summer when I flew into HPN and rented from National. They ask you if you want to prepay for gas..I said no I will purchase gas and return it full like i always do..BIG MISTAKE this time. When I got back to HPN I started looking for gas stations and couldnt find a one and was almost out of gas..I wound up dropping it off empty. On my next credit card statement man did they spank me good. I might just opt for prepay mext time.

Ugh, that reminds me. I was running late after a meeting in MCO once and was almost out of gas (I always fill up right before I return the car). Pulled up to one gas station on Semoran that didn't have the prices posted on the sign...yeah, big mistake. Freakin' avgas is less expensive...I think they were charging over $6 for gas. Rock-me-hard place.
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Brick
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RE: RANT: Forced To Pay For Rental Car Gas Tank In USA

Thu Feb 17, 2011 5:50 am

Quoting WildcatYXU (Reply 13):
Quoting Brick (Reply 7):
No major rental car company makes purchasing a full tank of fuel mandatory.



Budget at YCG always puts the charges for a tank of fuel into the rental agreement and removes it when I show them the fuel receipt.

If the charge is removed, then it wouldn't be mandatory would it?
A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man...
 
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WildcatYXU
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RE: RANT: Forced To Pay For Rental Car Gas Tank In USA

Thu Feb 17, 2011 1:30 pm

Quoting Brick (Reply 16):
If the charge is removed, then it wouldn't be mandatory would it?



Obviously not, but it can be easily misinterpreted.
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PHLBOS
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RE: RANT: Forced To Pay For Rental Car Gas Tank In USA

Thu Feb 17, 2011 3:05 pm

Quoting stratosphere (Reply 14):
Thats exactly what happened to me last summer when I flew into HPN and rented from National. They ask you if you want to prepay for gas..I said no I will purchase gas and return it full like i always do..BIG MISTAKE this time. When I got back to HPN I started looking for gas stations and couldnt find a one and was almost out of gas..I wound up dropping it off empty. On my next credit card statement man did they spank me good. I might just opt for prepay mext time.

What you're describing there is a case of caveat emptor (let the buyer beware or assume the risk). Since you stated that you would return the car full but didn't (regardless of the reason); you technically breached your agreement with the rental agency and was thereby subject to whatever listed fees/fines/penalties that the agency has in their books at the time of the rental. This has been true for eons.

As I stated in my earlier post; not every airport has a gas station either adjecent to it or on the premises. It is up to the renter to decide whether or not to take the risk of finding a gas station.

One idea to help in making that decision would be if getting from the terminal to the rental car facility (to pick up the car) involves/requires taking a courtesy shuttle bus, all one would have to do is simply look out the window while en route to see if there are indeed any gas stations around. I've done this a few times (especially in unfamiliar area/airports) in the past and it helped me tremendously.
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fxramper
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RE: RANT: Forced To Pay For Rental Car Gas Tank In USA

Thu Feb 17, 2011 3:27 pm

Quoting Brick (Reply 7):
Yeah, I think the OP is confused.

No major rental car company makes purchasing a full tank of fuel mandatory.

  

Quoting stratosphere (Reply 14):
BIG MISTAKE this time

The majority of us business travelers don't rent in B.F.E.   
 
Mir
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RE: RANT: Forced To Pay For Rental Car Gas Tank In USA

Thu Feb 17, 2011 3:37 pm

Quoting stratosphere (Reply 14):
When I got back to HPN I started looking for gas stations and couldnt find a one

Not many in that area - you have to go toward White Plains proper on the back roads in order to find a couple.

-Mir
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Tugger
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RE: RANT: Forced To Pay For Rental Car Gas Tank In USA

Thu Feb 17, 2011 4:32 pm

Quoting Brick (Reply 16):
If the charge is removed, then it wouldn't be mandatory would it?

Technically you are correct but the idea is that it is mandatory unless you provide documentation that you filled the car up that day. Yes I was able to get the charge removed but yes it was charged to me as was mandated by their policy.

Quoting PHLBOS (Reply 18):
As I stated in my earlier post; not every airport has a gas station either adjecent to it or on the premises. It is up to the renter to decide whether or not to take the risk of finding a gas station.

This I have found to be very important as a rental car driver: Take note of where the gas stations "start" around an airport. There is often a a "dead zone" around airports where no gas stations can found and often the ones that are closest are expensive. So you have to watch as you leave where is best to fill up upon return. It can be frustrating.

And yes, I do sometimes use the option to have the rental company take care of the gas but I always prefer to fill it up myself unless time is an issue.

Tugg
I don’t know that I am unafraid to be myself, but it is hard to be somebody else. - W. Shatner
There are many kinds of sentences that we think state facts about the world but that are really just expressions of our attitudes. - F. Ramsey
 
L1011
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RE: RANT: Forced To Pay For Rental Car Gas Tank In USA

Thu Feb 17, 2011 4:45 pm

I have had a situation with Enterprise where the car had about half a tank of fuel when I rented it, and I was told to return it with half a tank. This is difficult, because when I am fueling the car before returning it, I don't know how to tell when I've put in half a tank. I usually go over just to be safe. It's much easier to go out with a full tank.

Bob Bradley
Colonial Heights, VA
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bok269
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RE: RANT: Forced To Pay For Rental Car Gas Tank In USA

Thu Feb 17, 2011 8:02 pm

Quoting L1011 (Reply 22):
I have had a situation with Enterprise where the car had about half a tank of fuel when I rented it, and I was told to return it with half a tank. This is difficult, because when I am fueling the car before returning it, I don't know how to tell when I've put in half a tank. I usually go over just to be safe. It's much easier to go out with a full tank.

Is it safe to assume this was at an off-airport/home city location? The reason why local branches don't rent cars on full tanks is that cars will often get driven by branch employees between rentals (for the Pick Up service, to go to other branches to pick up cars, etc.). Because virtually no local branch has on-site fueling (the airports do, as economies of scale come into play), it would be very difficult to have to drive each vehicle to get fuel before it gets rented.

As for the OP's situation, the mandatory purchase of fuel must be related to some sort of coupon or voucher-I've never heard of any company requiring the purchase of fuel.

[Edited 2011-02-17 12:03:28]
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airtrainer
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RE: RANT: Forced To Pay For Rental Car Gas Tank In USA

Sun Feb 20, 2011 9:57 am

Never had that problem in the US but my last rental was almost one year ago, I hope things have not changed since... Like other posters said it's better to rent with a full tank and return it full, unless the agent goes IN the car with you to see the real level.
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JasYHZ
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RE: RANT: Forced To Pay For Rental Car Gas Tank In USA

Wed Feb 23, 2011 7:36 pm

Quoting HAJflyer (Reply 11):
After renting cars in the US app. 40 times over the last decade (always with pre-paid all-inclusive vouchers bought in Europe that cover unlimited miles, CDW insurance, liability insurance, taxes, airport facility charges and so on) and I never experienced anything like it until last October with National at MIA.

The guy at the counter even showed me his data entry screen in order to "prove" the he could not disable the mandatory purchase of one tank. He told me that this rule applied only to certain fares - I assume the pre-paid vouchers sold overseas.

To0 bad for National - by doing this they lost me as customer for good. I was really mad since I rented the car for two days only and returned it with a half full tank.

Bingo. In the last few years a lot of tour operators in Europe (Carhire3000, CA Ferntouristik, Dertour, Holiday Autos etc.) have changed their package options. Depending on the package you purchase you either pay the tank in advance and when you arrive at the rental counter your balance is ZERO or you are required to pay for the tank upon arrival and are requested to bring it back empty. On a one week or more rental this is fine but I agree with the poster above - one a one or two day rental it isn't really appropriate. I'm sorry you're mad at National but this is the agreement with the tour operator; NOT something National is pulling over on you. Our agents honestly have no option to remove it and your travel agent is supposed to advise you of your package and what you pay locally.

If I remember correctly (I'm not at work now) those plans that include the fuel state to the agent on our computer screen "FSO is included in the rental" FSO being the fuel service option and the option for it is flagged "N". On those contracts where the fuel is paid locally it pops up "FSO is mandatory with the contract/product selected; no refunds to be issued" and the Y/N flag is automatically changed to a Y and no matter how hard I pound on the N it can't be changed. On the rental agreement it states (where the customer has to sign) "Persuant to tour operators agreement one tank of fuel has been added to your rental. No refunds for any unused fuel". So make sure you know which package you have purchased before screaming at the rental agent - there's nothing they can do about it.

But if it's a locally paid rental (not through a package tour operator) you always have three options: fill it yourself, buy the tank and return empty or we can fill it and charge a surcharge. which by the way is only a 50% surcharge at my three companies, not a 200-300% like some of my competitors.

JasYHZ
Airport Operations Manager
National Car Rental
Alamo Car Rental
Enterprise Rent a Car

[Edited 2011-02-23 11:39:50]
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