Budget Rent A Car - "Bait and Switch"

Budget Rent A Car - Budget applied fuel surcharge even though I filled car before return.

Budget Rent A Car - Forced to buy optional insurance

Rental cars fall into the range of necessary evils when traveling. It’s bad enough to make it through the security checkpoints and flight delays, but to have to stand in line after your arrival and wait for the drama of renting a car seems like some sort of injustice. And that’s when the rental agency does everything right.

But what about when everything seems to be truly an injustice!

Misleading Advertising

Often you book your rental car before you leave for your trip – waiting until you’re at the counter can be bad news indeed, especially if everything is already sold out or you’re stuck with a vehicle that is way too small to be comfortable.

One of the nicest things about booking your rental is advance is being able to take advantage of the various emailed specials and online offers that are out there. You might get a free upgrade with every rental, for example, so long as you’re booked ahead of time.

Imagine your surprise when you arrive at the rental car counter and learn that the special offer you dug to find and applied so carefully isn’t honored after all. It might seem silly to haggle for a free upgrade, but when you’re expecting it, you’ve done the research and you have the coupon – it doesn’t seem silly to count on the company to follow through. But apparently they don’t.

Fees, Fees and More Fees

Even when you skip the specials and try to book a car without any bells and whistles, you find there’s a bit more to it than you originally thought. The best fees tend to come as a surprise. Let’s say you travel to a different country – at least the rental car companies should have the policies, right?


The rental companies have been known to make their own rules on rentals in other countries. That usually means that you wind up being forced to pay for something that you shouldn’t, like the optional insurance. If you have insurance, you’re likely already covered, but being forced into paying twice as much for the car because someone breaks the company’s “optional” policy just isn’t cool.

And because it’s illegal in another country and you probably gave in and signed to get your car, you have no case at all when it’s all said and done.

Even renting in the United States can have its troubles. Usually the company finds a way to stick you with an extra bill after the fact. The gasoline surcharge is a particular favorite. You rent the car, you fill up the tank, you return the car, you get a letter in the mail with a bill. You owe more money for the gas that you burned getting from the gas station to the rental company. Fair? Nope. Money-maker for the company? Absolutely.