Will National get rid of the junk fees for her?

When Susan Snyder rented a car from National Car Rental, she turned down its offer of insurance. Her own auto insurance policy would, she thought, cover any damage to the rental car. Then National blindsided her when it assessed her an “administrative fee.”

As far as Snyder was concerned, this was a junk fee that she shouldn’t have to pay. And by writing to a customer service executive at National, Snyder persuaded the car rental agency to junk the administrative fee. Read on to find out how she did it.

No damage waiver necessary?

Snyder rented a car at National’s San Diego facility. National’s website lists a number of optional items that renters can purchase as add-ons to their reservations. These include personal accident insurance (PAI) and loss damage waivers (LDWs), which offer protection to renters involved in car accidents. Snyder chose not to purchase any of these optional coverages, believing that her own policy would suffice.

But another driver rear-ended Snyder’s rental car in a fender-bender accident, leaving minor damage. The other driver’s insurance carrier covered the repair costs.

Collision with a junk fee at National

Snyder was a loyal National customer. But National dented her goodwill by billing her $100 for an “administrative fee.”

She called National to inquire about this fee. National’s employee told her that the other driver’s insurance didn’t cover administrative costs, which its own insurance covers.

Says Snyder: “What really made me realize that this falls into the category of “garbage fees/borderline scam” is that the representative immediately offered to “split the difference” with me and settle the matter for $50. She directed me to the terms and conditions of the rental agreement that says that I agreed to administrative fees.”

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Nickel and diming

Snyder asked our advocates if we could help her: “I am disappointed in how they are trying to nickel and dime me for something that was not my fault.” She asked if car rental “administrative fees” are common, legitimate charges.

Our advocate, Dwayne Coward, responded that these fees are an industry standard:

Yes, this fee is common along with “loss of use” charges. As the name indicates, the fee is to cover their administrative cost to deal with the paperwork, having someone pick up the vehicle, inspect it and approve the repair work. These costs are not usually covered by personal vehicle insurance carriers (just as they wouldn’t reimburse for claiming this on your own vehicle).

Dwayne suggested to Snyder that she post in our forum, where our forum advocates could help her appeal her case to the company executives we list in our Contacts section.

Snyder didn’t post in our forum, but she notified us that she wrote to executives of National. The company promptly removed the fee.

Snyder’s story shows that you can fight “administrative” and other junk fees that a rental car agency might assess. If you write a complaint letter to the company, observing the three P’s of consumer advocacy — patience, politeness and persistence — you may win, just as Snyder did.

Has a car rental agency ever charged you a “junk fee”? Were you able to successfully contest the fee with the agency?

Jennifer Finger

Jennifer is the founder of KeenReader, an Internet-based freelance editing operation, as well as a certified public accountant. She is a senior writer for Elliott.org. Read more of Jennifer's articles here.

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