December 15, 2009
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum says he has reached an agreement with the Avis and Budget car rental companies over allegations that customers were not clearly informed about the terms of usage for a toll plaza pass. Under the agreement, Floridians who rented cars from Avis or Budget between March 1, 2008 and September 30, 2008 will be entitled to refunds for fees charged for the "Plate Pass" service on days they did not use the service.
Avis, which owns Budget, provides a service known as "Plate Pass" which allows car rental customers to avoid waiting in lines at Florida toll plazas and instead receive a bill for the amount of the tolls, plus a fee for the use of the feature. According to an investigation by the Attorney General's Economic Crimes Division, when Avis originally initiated the plate pass service customers were billed the fee only for the days they actually used the plate pass.
In March 2008, Avis allegedly changed its policy so that if a customer used the feature just once during the rental term, the customer was billed a $2.50 fee per day for the remainder of their retail period.
McCollum began investigating after customers complained they were not clearly informed that they would be billed the fee for days on which the plate pass was not used. Avis has cooperated with the Attorney General and by September 2008 made voluntary changes to clearly disclose that once the plate pass is used, customers will thereafter be charged a daily fee for the use of the plate pass, including days the plate pass is not used.
The agreement contains injunctive relief requiring that Avis continue to clearly and conspicuously inform customers that they will be billed, even for days they do not use the service. Avis will also refund Florida Avis and Budget Customers who, between March 1, 2008 and September 30, 2008, were billed on days when they did not use the service. Avis has also agreed to make a contribution of $10,000 to the Florida Law Enforcement Officer of the Year fund as part of the agreement.