Dollar raised my rate from $105 to $431 — but why?

Farid Currimbhoy can’t figure out why the price of his Dollar rental just tripled. Our advocates help him with the car rental math.

Question: I recently rented a car from Dollar in Chicago. My rental cost $105 with an additional charge of $5.65 per hour if late.

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I arrived in Chicago early and was billed $431 for the rental. According to a Dollar employee, it was “because I came early my original contract is invalid.”

What the …!

Why not add another day to my original contract or use the $5.65 an hour as specified in the original contract? I spent a lot of time in line waiting to speak with a supervisor. But it was a long wait, so I left.

I should have canceled and started over at Dollar or another rental company, but by then I was too angry. Can you help me get a refund? — Farid Currimbhoy, Winsted, Minn.

11 thoughts on “Dollar raised my rate from $105 to $431 — but why?

  1. I’m happy that they resolved it reasonably, but it shouldn’t get to that. If, because of car availability, the agent can only offer a higher price or the option to wait, the agent should give the consumer the choice.

  2. So the Op walks away happy by being charged 2x the rental cost?

    Math 101:

    Original Price: $105
    Outrageous Price: $431
    Subtraction of Credit: $226

    Price Paid: $205

    Dollar restored confidence to their bottom line… but not to their customers. Shame on the company.

  3. I stopped using Dollar when an agent at Philadelphia International Airport told me that I would have to pay a higher rate because I was going to be driving to another state – New Jersey. At that time, you could have walked out the back door of the rental office and looked across the river at New Jersey.

  4. If they had a car, they should have let it go out early, at the exact same rate. If they didn’t have a car, they could have said to wait. There is no situation where they should have increased the rate and they should have refunded the full difference. Or just added a day at the original rate, if applicable. This is not the way to do business.

  5. I don’t agree with the car rental company’s policies on this, but it is how it is.
    I have seen rates vary by hundreds of dollars simply by changing pickup time by a few hours. That is, if the pickup is 12PM the weekly rate is $300 whereas a 4PM pickup the rates drop to $80. Apparently the rate is date AND time dependent. The OPs mistake was assuming that the original confirmation was accepted. But, there are some significant unanswered questions…. How early did the OP arrive? was it a few hours as in 2-3 hours or a few hours as in 8-10 hours? How did the OP NOT realize the rate? I realize that rental car companies have a reputation for poor disclosure, but every car rental contract clearly lists the estimated charges. You also have to initial or verify the contract. How did he miss this? Did the OP book a pre-paid rate? or was the reservation not guaranteed with a CC?

  6. That’s ridiculous. If he picked up early, why didn’t they just tell him his drop off had to be back earlier? That is terrible policy. I am glad you helped this consumer.

    But I have the same questions because again, the story is incomplete. How early was early? And why didn’t he look at the price when he signed to pick it up?

  7. If the customer wants to go ahead with an early pickup, then there is no limit on what the agent can do, for example the agent can make a new walkup rate reservation..

    The customer can simply say he is going to wait until the original pickup time. The agent does not have to offer that option up front. But the agent must either give it when the customer mentions it or make a new offer of early pickup with no increase in price..

    Yes I did that before and dutifully came back at the original pickup time with no problems. If you do run into problems here, call the rental company headquarters using the pay phone at the back of the rental office waiting room (or using your cell phone).

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