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August 10, 2020

More Junk Fees Added to Car Rental Bills

Filed under: Autos,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 4:50 am

Car rental companies are notorious for advertising low rates but then when you add all the taxes and fees, the price can jump up dramatically.

Recently a friend rented a car from Enterprise in the Boston area and he noticed a number odd extra charges added to his bill.


car rental fees

What these fees are for is not obvious. Poking around online reveals that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is directly responsible for two of them, and indirectly for the third.

The parking violation surcharge, which one would think is only imposed if you got a ticket, is actually mandated by state law. It says that the rental company will not be liable for traffic tickets if it collects a sixty cent surcharge from the car renter and pays that to the city. (See G.L. c. 90, § 20E(i))

The $2 per rental police training fee is another creature of the Massachusetts legislature. They thought it was a clever way to help pay for police training. (See story.)

And lastly, the “VLC Rec Fee” is a made up fee by rental car companies. It stands for “Vehicle License Cost Recovery Fee.” It is designed to recover the estimated average daily cost per vehicle of the charges imposed by the government for the rental car company to title, register, inspect, and plate all vehicles in its rental fleet. Enterprise charges a whopping $2.80 per day for this.

Interestingly, Illinois has a statute about this particular fee that says if the total fees collected exceed the rental car company’s actual costs of registration, etc., it may keep the excess, but has to adjust the fee charged to renters downward the following year.

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  1. People wonder why I have such a problem with most tax systems in the US and why I’m against new taxes, but this is exactly why. MA basically just slides this tax into an entirely unrelated service, so as to protect the voting base from the visibility of higher taxes. Why would anyone ever connect rental car rentals to police training except to mislead people?

    Comment by Joel — August 10, 2020 @ 8:40 am
  2. This is like stadium taxes to subsidize professional sports.

    Can we just add a fee to car rentals and have universal health care?

    Comment by Jason — August 10, 2020 @ 1:01 pm
  3. Those are like the “new airport surcharge” that was added to my rental car bill at the old Denver Airport years before the new airport opened and I could use it. Or a similar mandated fee added to my motel bill in Denver because my lodging was within x miles of the airport.

    But the real pros at this are the cable and phone companies that mix real government surcharges with mysterious fees of their own creation that should be part of the cost of doing business and included in the advertised base charge.

    Comment by JonK — August 17, 2020 @ 11:21 am

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