Help! My car rental company charged me for running a red light

red lightHere’s a problem travelers are running into more frequently: Months after a trip, they get a bill from their rental company charging them for an unknown traffic violation, plus a handling fee. Often, there’s little recourse.

Or, in Alex Backer’s case, none.

He just received a ticket from Dollar for a violation that supposedly took place back in May, and was told he had no choice but to pay.
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Government issues “precedent-setting” fines against three airlines in Rochester delay incident

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Remember last summer’s overnight tarmac stranding incident in Rochester, Minn.? The government does. This morning it issued what it called a “precedent-setting” series of fines against three airlines in connection with the lengthy ground delay.

The U.S. Department of Transportation fined Continental Airlines and ExpressJet Airlines $100,000 for their roles in the Continental Express flight 2816 delay, in which passengers were trapped on an aircraft for a total of 9 1/2 hours. The government also assessed a civil penalty of $75,000 against Mesaba Airlines, which provided ground handling for the flight, for its part in the incident.

But that’s not the most interesting part of the story.
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The ultimate punishment? Internet travel agency faces record fine for advertising violations

keyboard1The online travel agency Ultimate Fares faces $600,000 in government fines for failing to include taxes and service fees in its airfares, a U.S. Department of Transportation Administrative Law Judge has ruled. The fine would be the largest ever assessed for advertising violations, according to regulators.

Ultimate Fares is no stranger to complaints. You don’t have to look far to find customers who call it “101% fraud” and accusing it of having a “very bad reputation.”

But now the government is taking action.
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A $30,000 fine for filing a late report? Wow, now the Transportation Department is serious

jetstarJetstar Airways is an Australian discount airline that began flying between Sydney, Melbourne and Honolulu in late 2006. The Transportation Department requires the airline to file an annual report detailing disability-related complaints, which it did for 2007 — this January.

The penalty for filing its report a year late? A whopping $30,000.

Seriously.
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Sky-high government fines against United, US Airways for safety violations

engineIn yet another sign that the government has adopted a “get tough” approach in dealing with the airline industry, the Federal Aviation Administration today proposed near-record penalties against two airlines for safety violations.

The FAA wants United Airlines to pay a $3.8 million civil penalty for allegedly operating one of its Boeing 737 aircraft on more than 200 flights after the carrier had violated its own maintenance procedures on one of the plane’s engines.

The government also proposed a $5.4 million civil penalty against US Airways for allegedly operating eight aircraft on a total of 1,647 flights from October 2008 to January 2009 while not in compliance with certain airworthiness directives or the airline’s maintenance program.
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Tough talkin’ Transportation Department slaps United with $75,000 fine

unitedA few days ago, a Transportation Department official bristled when I suggested that its recent fines against airlines were little more than warning shots. It turns out the DOT isn’t done making its point.

In a consent order filed last week (PDF), the government fined United Airlines $75,000 for violating fare advertising requirements. And something tells it’s still getting warmed up.
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