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May 29, 2017

Payless Car Rental’s Shady Practices Get National Spotlight

Filed under: Travel,Uncategorized — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:21 am

Last year, Mouse Print* brought you a story from Consumer World reader Marcie S. alleging that Payless Car Rental engaged in various shady practices that often left customers with much higher bills than they bargained for.

Complainants said they reserved a car at one price, but were charged more at the counter. Others said they declined optional charges like roadside assistance, gas refills, and additional insurance, but were charged for them anyway.

We tipped off our friends at Good Morning America about the issues and they took on the case. ABC News went undercover, hidden cameras and all, and discovered similar things happened to them too. Their story aired last week.



After receiving more than 800 complaints, the Better Business Bureau has now issued a national warning about Payless and given the company an “F” rating. (Text version of ABC story and BBB warning is here.)

The class action lawsuits filed last fall against Payless continue. The question remains, however, what are our state attorneys general and the Federal Trade Commission doing about Payless?




• • •

April 3, 2017

Thanks for Nothing #5

Filed under: Humor,Retail,Thanks for Nothing,Travel — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:48 am

In honor of April Fools’ Day a few days ago, we first offer you an ad to make you chuckle, and then two ads in our series of ones that don’t quite offer what they claim (but which throw in a chuckle at no extra cost).

Example 1:

Retailers are notorious for advertising that “everything” is on sale when there are many exclusions. Old Navy tried to play it straight(er) by advertising a big sale this way:

Old Navy "everything-ish"

Thanks for trying, Old Navy.


Example 2:

Southwest Airlines recently offered an airfare sale with “no gotchas.”

Souhtwest Airlines

Then what’s this?

*MOUSE PRINT:

Southwest terms and conditions

Thanks for nothing, Southwest. But thanks to Richard G. for the submission.


Example 3:

Our last “deal” is at Ace Hardware. Just use your loyalty card and pay $3 more than the regular price!

*MOUSE PRINT:

Ace Hardware

Thanks for nothing, Ace.


If you find an ad that screams “thanks for nothing,” please pass it on to Edgar(at symbol)MousePrint.org . Thanks.




• • •

November 21, 2016

Thanks for Nothing: United Airlines Intros “Last Class” Service

Filed under: Thanks for Nothing,Travel — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:38 am

United AirlinesWe all know what first class air travel means — priority boarding, bigger seats, fancy food, quick exiting, etc. Now United Airlines is introducing what we have nicknamed “last class” service. As our moniker implies, this is at the opposite end of the spectrum of fares.

According to United’s website, “basic economy” as they call it will be their least expensive fare (with unspecified extra savings, if any), but will come with some new and severe limitations:

*MOUSE PRINT:

  • You will not be able to reserve a particular seat.
  • Seats will be assigned automatically at check-in, and presumably you will have no choices offered.

  • If you buy multiple seats for your family, sitting together is not guaranteed.

  • You can make no voluntary changes to your ticket.

  • You will earn miles, but not earn “segments.”

  • You will not be allowed to upgrade.

  • You will be automatically placed in the last group to board the plane.

    And the biggest (and nastiest) new restriction:

  • You cannot carry on any luggage except a small personal item like a laptop that fits under the seat in front of you.

  • So… during this Thanksgiving week, we say to United Airlines, thanks for nothing.




    • • •

    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:

    *MOUSE PRINT:

  • 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.




  • • • •

    March 30, 2015

    Hertz Hides the Lowest Priced Cars

    Filed under: Autos,Internet,Travel — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:26 am

      It is not easy to find the lowest price on a rental car because companies don’t automatically incorporate discount codes into their displayed rates, so you have to keep trying different codes and different companies’ websites. And even when you think you have found the lowest price, some rental companies have some tricks up their sleeve to bamboozle you.

    Case in point: A friend is coming to Boston this week to visit, and MrConsumer agreed to help him find the “best” car rental rate. After using a number of travel sites that compare the prices of various companies, it became pretty clear that Hertz was offering the lowest prices depending on which coupon code promotions you entered into their website.

    Here is the top portion of the results search on Hertz’s webpage:

    Hertz top 4

    It seems pretty clear that the best price turned up by this search is $162 ($170.73 including taxes and fees). It even says at the top “The rates listed represent the best available rates based on the information provided.” So a booking was made for this $170 car based on MrConsumer’s recommendation.

    After a little more poking around, MrConsumer learned that this $170 rate was not in fact the cheapest rate that Hertz was offering.

    Here is the (almost) full list of cars and prices on Hertz’ website at the time the above four prices were extracted:

    *MOUSE PRINT:

    Hertz

    Scroll down the list.

    The nearly complete list appears just as it does above with the $162/$170 rate apparently the least expensive option. But if you scroll down to the bottom of the list, to the 10th car listed, a $153 rate appears! What, where did that come from?

    It appears that Hertz deliberately creates the impression that the lowest rate appears first at the top of the list, but in fact tucks the best rate farther down the list. (Testing other rental dates and locations, the lowest price was not always on the bottom, but it was never the first, second, or third listing which appear in increasing cost order.)

    Mouse Print* wrote to the PR folks at Hertz asking why they did this, whether they recognized the deceptive nature of this ploy, and if they were going to fix it.

    The company did not respond.

    Just imagine if Hertz can grab an extra $7 or $10 on each car rental by upselling customers one car class above the cheapest car… times how many million rentals a year…




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