Dollar hit me with $255 in administrative fees

Garry Woessner rents a car, but turns down the offer of renting an electronic toll pass. You can see how much this misstep cost him. How do you keep toll authorities from making it “E-Z” to overcharge you, and how can we help Woessner appeal the charges?

Question: I recently rented a car from Dollar Rent A Car in Denver. They force you to either buy a toll pass at $13 per day or pay a $15 administration fee for every toll you pass through. In Colorado, the tolls are all electronic, and consumers have no options to pay at a toll booth.

I had 17 toll charges in three days, and Dollar was going to charge me $255 in admin fees alone. After several fruitless phone calls with their toll collection contractor, I did not know what to do. Garry Woessner, Edina, Minn.

Answer: I can relate to your problem. There have been many times where my rental car was not equipped with a toll pass, and I was forced to pass through an electronic toll collection system with no option to pay. For a while, I was anxious that I might be pulled over by the highway patrol. Instead, I would receive invoices in the mail that included daily “administrative charges” that far exceeded the cost of the tolls.

In your situation, you were given an option to rent the toll pass at $13 per day, which sounds expensive, depending on how much you might use it. Given that there are no other payment options in Colorado, that may have been a good investment.

You were shocked to receive a bill for your 17 toll charges over three days that included $255 in administrative fees, and how could I blame you for being surprised?

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You attempted several times to contact ExpressToll, which bills itself as the “one stop for all your Colorado tolling needs.” However, you were unsuccessful at getting the charges adjusted.

To make matters more complicated, ExpressToll, as well as many other toll collection agencies around the country, use PlatePass to collect tolls from car renters. A check of the PlatePass page at Dollar’s website states that:

If you decline the optional PlatePass All-Inclusive service at the start of the rental period, but still use electronic toll roads and/or bridges during the rental period (including “cashless” or “all electronic” toll roads and bridges, as noted above), you will be liable for and we will charge you: (a) all tolls incurred for such use (at the highest, undiscounted applicable toll rate); (b) a $15 administrative fee for each toll incurred (subject to a $90 cap for such toll-related administrative fees for the rental period); and (c) all other applicable toll charges or fees, if any.

Clearly, as stated above, you should not have been charged more than $90 in administrative fees for the entire rental, so you had a chance to recover at least $165 in overcharges. After striking out with ExpressToll, you used our corporate contacts to reach out to executives at Dollar, which is owned by Hertz.

That turned out to be a smart move, because they waived the administrative fees completely.

You thanked us for maintaining our list of corporate contacts, which include executives at travel, telecom and other consumer industries, and we’re glad we could be of help.

Mark Pokedoff

Four-time Emmy-award-winning television sports production specialist and frequent traveler. Longtime freelance writer and travel blog enthusiast. Proud papa of four amazing kids who have been upgraded to first class more than all their friends combined. Read more of Mark's articles here.

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