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BBB warns consumers about low-rate car rental agency

Posted: 5:52 PM, May 26, 2017
Updated: 2019-03-21 12:22:44-04

The Better Business Bureau issued a nationwide warning about a low-rate car rental agency that’s been charging customers more than they’re quoted.

The BBB gave Payless Car Rental an “F” rating for failing to resolve their customer complaints.

Christine Reier of Elkridge, Md. was one of the more than 830 Payless customers who filed a complaint with the BBB in the last three years.

She said she went to make an online reservation but on the final page changed her mind once she realized the rental agency wasn’t located at the airport.

When she went to cancel the transaction, the page somehow froze and she said her only option after speaking with a customer service representative was to click the submit payment button.

“I figured they would help once I called and said, ‘Hey, I just clicked pay, now I don't want it’ and they said ‘No, there's no refunds,’” Reier said.

She said she was told she couldn't speak with a manager.

Reier then tried contacting the corporate office, disputed the charge with her credit card company but still had to pay the $50 rental fee.

“At the end I lost. I didn't get the car rental, I had to pay the money,” said Reier.

Doing a quick search online, Payless has the lowest prices at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, but the BBB warns not to make your decision based on the price quote. They recommend doing some research and checking out customer reviews before making your reservation.

If Reier had looked at the BBB site, she would have seen a pattern.

“Overcharges, fees they did not agree to, sales presentation - the way the sales people present the product and I give the example of where they might actually say that car's no longer available, you are forced to take an upgrade,” said Angie Barnett, President & CEO for the BBB serving Greater Maryland.

In addition to unavoidable upgrades, customers complained the company charged for optional insurance.

“Many consumers are alleging they declined it but that the fee was put on there and that can be as much as $30 a day,” Barnett said.

Reier said she learned her lesson and she's now going with reputation over rate.

“Pay the extra dollars for the customer service, it's a better experience. So those $5 or $10 gave me more headache then what they were worth,” Reier said.

Payless Car Rental could not immediately be reached for comment on this story.

Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Oklahoma also sent a letter to the Attorneys General in California, Florida, Oklahoma, and New Jersey regarding the marketplace conduct and complaint history of Payless Car Rental of Tulsa. Payless Car Rental is a subsidiary of Avis Budget Group based in Parsippany, New Jersey.

A class action lawsuit against Payless was filed last year in New Jersey. It alleges that Payless and its parent company Avis Budget Group Inc. unlawfully charged customers for add-ons like insurance, roadside assistance, and fuel options.

Some other tips when it comes to car rentals include booking online. Online reservations can be cheaper than booking in-person. And you may able to save more by using a car rental company outside of the airport. Click here  for a full list of tips from the BBB.

If you have a #MatterForMallory you can email her at Mallory@wmar.com