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October 24, 2016

At Payless You Could Pay More Because of Dirty Tricks

Filed under: Autos,Travel — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:44 am

Consumer World reader Marcie S. is one determined consumer. She says she was ripped off by Payless Car Rental, which is a low-priced subsidiary of the Avis Budget Group. She was determined to get satisfaction not just for herself, but for the hundreds or perhaps thousands of other consumers who may have had similar problems with them.

Marcie says when she rented a car from Payless, they did something unusual:

Payless Car Rental pre-charges the customers’ credit card for a full tank of gas, stating the charge will be reversed once the car is returned with a full tank of gas. Upon return, they inspect the car and if the gas tank is full they note it on the return receipt. They do not automatically reverse the charges. Rather, you are directed to call 1-800-Payless where they open up a customer service ticket. There, the claim is classified as a fuel charge “dispute.”

They reply via ticket that they require ALL of the following to be met in order for your fuel charge “dispute” to be considered for review:

1) A physical receipt from the gas station noting the address and number of gallons purchased;
2) Gas station must be located within 5 miles of rental drop-off;
3) The receipt must have a time and date stamp. They will only accept the claim if the purchase was made within 30 minutes of drop-off time.

These requirements are non-contractual and extremely unlikely to have been met, especially with no knowledge of said requirements beforehand. They will NOT accept the rental return with the fuel reading marked “FULL” as proof. The ticket is then closed. There is no recourse and no way to escalate this situation.

Wow. Could Marcie’s experience be unique and came about as the result of a rogue agent’s actions? Apparently not. There are hundreds of complaints online about Payless, which average consumers never see until it is too late. Here are some of their alleged practices:


  • Issuing reservations at one price, but charging more at the time of rental;
  • Cramming charges, such as optional insurance, onto bills after the customer has declined the coverage;
  • Cramming charges such as for roadside assistance onto bills without oral disclosure or permission;
  • Misrepresenting insurance charges as being required when in fact they are optional;
  • Failing to refund fuel deposits after representing that they will be credited upon return of the car fully fueled;
  • Failing to fully disclose fuel refilling requirements prior to rental;
  • Representing there was no charge for an additional driver, then assess such charges;
  • Representing that certain fees are refundable upon return of the vehicle when such is not the case;
  • Provide the customer with one receipt with a certain price, and subsequently provide a receipt with a higher price;
  • and many others…

    Many customers report they were charged hundreds of dollars more than they bargained for. Some would even call Payless’ actions bordering on criminal behavior.

    Marcie got her money back from her credit card company but she wasn’t going to let Payless keep ripping off customers. She was able to collect the complaints of other consumers, complained to state AGs without much success, organized a private Facebook group with over 250 members who had complaints, and searched dozens and dozens of law firms until she found one to take the case.

    Last month, two law firms filed a class action lawsuit against Payless, alleging many of the things mentioned above.

    The New York Times asked Avis Budget (Payless’ parent) to comment on the lawsuit, but they declined. But we welcome your views below.

    And to Marcie… we need more consumers like you who don’t take no for answer.

    Share this story:

  • • • •


    1. I haven’t used Payless, but my last rental with Avis resulted in hundreds in extra charges. When I went to pick up my reserved car, they didn’t have it (?!), but gave me a more expensive car for the same price. Except they charged me the full price of the more expensive car after all, plus charged me extra days. I disputed the charges on site, but had to catch my flight so I had to pick up the complaint by phone later. My company reimbursed me in full, but it took quite a while and a lot of work to get those charges close to what I’d been promised, even with documentation.

      Comment by Shawn — October 24, 2016 @ 10:44 am
    2. Great job Marcie and thank you!

      Mouse Print, I hope you keep us up to date on this one.

      Comment by Dane — October 24, 2016 @ 10:55 am
    3. Marcie again Thank you for everything you have done !! You are awesome

      Comment by Barbara Bertucio — October 24, 2016 @ 11:33 am
    4. In my very limited experience, Avis, the parent company is nearly as bad. i.e., charging more than the booking price, adding extra charges after the fact. Shame!

      Comment by Ernest Hite — October 24, 2016 @ 11:42 am
    5. I commend Marcie for pursuing Payless/Avis for their dishonest behavior. When something is worth fighting for it needs to be pursued.

      Comment by Quinder French — October 24, 2016 @ 12:33 pm
    6. It should not take so many complaints and civil actions for a business to be reprimanded for blatantly anti-consumer behavior. I guess an argument can be made that consumers should pay attention to the documents they’re signing, but I suspect that there is some breach of contract on the company’s part.

      Comment by Wayne R — October 24, 2016 @ 9:15 pm
    7. Thank you Marcie……I am one of the people hoping to recover some of the over charges made by renting from Payless.
      DONT rent from this company!

      Comment by Vicki nolan — October 25, 2016 @ 12:28 am
    8. Hi Marcie,

      Just last week I had the same experience at Dollar-Rent-A-Car.

      I went to the service agent at Dollar after he motioned me over there (there was a long lone). He informed me I had to buy gas there at $2.59 and it was more expensive over at the gas station near-by.

      I said No and had a signed agreement that I had already payed for the car gas full via credit card. After a few minutes and refusal to pay, they came around.

      I spent about an hour at the Dollar-Rent-A-Car (not counting the bus ride from the airport).

      Needless to say when I saw $2.09 at the store just down the street (less than 1 mile), I was upset.


      Comment by Les Howell — October 25, 2016 @ 12:37 pm
    9. Hi Les – John Mattes ( has been involved in a class action lawsuit against Dollar/Thrifty for the past few years. His allegations are similar in nature to Payless’ (although from the complaints I have read, a bit less egregious). The entire low budget car rental industry is rife with corruption since the employees work largely on commissions and sales quotas for these add-ons. As alleged in our lawsuit, they stoop to ever lower and lower means of achieving these quotas, and outright lie to customers. I’m glad they came around in your case. With Payless, they do not relent and in fact become very antagonistic when challenged about their add-ons. They have gotten away with this for far too long so this lawsuit is long overdue!

      Comment by Marcie Samuelson — October 25, 2016 @ 1:17 pm
    10. WayneR:

      your comment:
      It should not take so many complaints and civil actions for a business to be reprimanded for blatantly anti-consumer behavior. I guess an argument can be made that consumers should pay attention to the documents they’re signing, but I suspect that there is some breach of contract on the company’s part.

      You’re right. There is an breach of an implied contract that both parties are going to do the right thing by, and for, each other. It is called ethics. Something that seems to be lacking in almost every facet of life. Businesses take advantage of near monopolies to force onerous terms and conditions (binding arbitration, for example) on the other party without recourse. Of course you sign because you want the service/product and there is little choice you, as the consumer, have. Take it or leave it.

      Not that all consumers are innocent in this matter either. They are out to ‘get even’ with any and all companies. Return policies used to be much more lenient. Now to get almost any thing returned, you need a recent receipt. People will buy clothes for an event and then return them. I’ve seen old used shoes on the floor at Walmart and I’ll bet that the person walked out of the store wearing the unpaid shoes. So, consumers aren’t always the angels they claim to be.

      end of rant…

      One other item about renting a car. Rented one from Hertz using AAA discount this summer. Everything went find, final cost matched the estimate, but why do I have to pay a separate charge for auto registration. It was about $1.20 a day. Shouldn’t that be included in the daily price and not broken out individually? Yes, I would pay it eventually buried in the rate, but still, it seemed nit-picky.

      Comment by bobl — October 26, 2016 @ 7:43 pm
    11. One thing I noticed that was not mentioned here is the fact that the AG elected to do nothing about this. I am sure that the fact that she had to search so much for an attorney to take the case speaks volumes. The AG’s office is supposed to be neutral in their position, and there for the protection of we the consumers against shady business practices, and their blatant refusal to address this is quite concerning.

      Comment by Anne Geach — November 7, 2016 @ 10:06 am
    12. Anne – Thank you for that comment. Our group went on a campaign to notify all of our respective AGs and to date, NO action has been taken. Many of us got a form letter thanking us and stating that they will keep a file on Payless and monitor for patterns. NYS told me they would investigate and 5 months later, nothing. I sent a 155 page document to the US Attorney General because I felt so strongly the actions were criminal and they needed to be investigated immediately. They dismissed me, citing they don’t get involved in civil cases on behalf of the consumer. The FTC sent me a link on how to avoid being a victim of fraud. It’s been beyond discouraging to say the least.

      Comment by Marcie Samuelson — November 8, 2016 @ 9:57 am

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