Dinged for using a “fraudulent” discount code on my Avis rental

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Anand Iyer recently rented a Hyundai from Avis in Westfield, NJ. He’d found the car online through a site called AutoSlash.com, and booked the rental through Travelocity.

At the end of the rental, Avis charged him $686 — an excellent deal for a 30-day rental.

A few days later, Iyer heard from Avis. Turns out the deal was a little too excellent, and his bill would be revised to $992.

The reason? An Avis representative accused him of “fraudulently” using a discount code that belongs to the Florida Department of Management Services.

Iyer doesn’t work for the Florida Department of Management Services, but he does believe Avis should honor the $686 rate. If it doesn’t, he wants me to intervene and force Avis to make good on its offer. After all, a representative told him his codes looked fine when he picked up the car.

He explained his position in an email to Avis. As he noted, no one told him he had to be a Florida employee:

I was not informed about this requirement when I took possession of the car, nor when I signed the agreement when I got the car.

Neither was I informed any time during the period when the rental car was in my possession. Hence, I do not think it is fair for me to pay the extra amount.

We could have easily fixed this if you had told me a word about this during the rental; don’t you agree?

One of your representatives told me that this rate would be honored for this rental since it was already done, so I kindly request you to honor her word.

Avis wasn’t so understanding. The discount code wasn’t legit, and he shouldn’t have used it, Avis contends.

All rental agreements are subject to a final audit.

Why you would use Travelocity to book a corporate Avis identification number instead of using your contact administrator means one thought to me. You fraudulently used a discount code, which you are not entitled to, through a colleague, a friend or you went to a website: slickdeals.com and tried to use this corporate code. It is not up to our rental agents to discover this type of fraud, but our security department to.

I have contacted our corporate offices about this matter.

Iyer says I have to get involved. After all, didn’t I help another car rental customer under similar circumstances recently?

Perhaps. But no two cases are exactly alike, and this one feels a little different.

Iyer admits that he used a discount code and that he doesn’t work for the state of Florida. He says he did not know the code was meant to be used by Florida employees exclusively.

I agree that Avis should have verified his eligibility before he left the parking lot, but in a situation like this, I think a post-rental audit is acceptable.

The wildcard in this case may be Autoslash. If it offered the discount code, and Iyer used it believing it was legit, then I think it may bear some responsibility, too.

Look, I’m all in favor of finding the best deal possible, but searching a deal forum for any discount code and then plugging it into your final rate, which is what Avis suggests Iyer had done, raises some ethical questions. Avis would argue that using a code to which you’re not entitled is theft, and if I got involved in this case I’d be an accessory to a crime.

Then again, if this was a simple misunderstanding, should Avis be allowed to jack its rates up by $306? That doesn’t seem fair, either.

Update (10 a.m): Last week, when Iyer contacted me to ask for help, I suggested that he escalate this to corporate Avis. He did, and a few hours after this story was published, Iyer notified me that Avis agreed to reverse its decision and would charge him $686 as agreed. He also emphasized that he didn’t know he was ineligible to use the discount code. For those of you who are not regular readers, the Monday column, Can this trip be saved? is a feature where I present one side of the story — the customer’s — and ask you, my readers, if I should get involved. These cases have not been vetted in any way. See Friday’s column, The Travel Troubleshooter, for those reader questions.

Should I mediate Anand Iyer's case with Avis?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on our help forum.

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  • PsyGuy

    I voted no, because there is an easier solution that avoids your entanglement. The OP should simply dispute the charge with his credit card company sending them a copy of the final bill, when the OP is credited back the difference for the charge, Avis can then choose to pursue recourse in small claims or another court.

  • Badcat Besseya

    I am not going to vote… but I did take a look at the Autoslash site, which offers prominently: ”

    “Save more money with AutoSlash!

    AutoSlash automatically figures out which discount codes will get you the cheapest
    car rental. We even re-book your rental automatically when rates drop.”

    and in the terms of service:

    “WE MAKE NO WARRANTY THAT (A) THE SERVICES AND MATERIALS WILL MEET
    YOUR REQUIREMENTS, (B) THE SERVICES AND MATERIALS WILL BE UNINTERRUPTED, TIMELY,
    SECURE, OR ERROR-FREE, (C) THE RESULTS THAT MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE USE OF THE
    SERVICES OR MATERIALS WILL BE EFFECTIVE, ACCURATE OR RELIABLE, OR (D) THE QUALITY
    OF ANY PRODUCTS, SERVICES, OR INFORMATION PURCHASED OR OBTAINED BY YOU FROM THE
    SITE FROM US OR OUR AFFILIATES WILL MEET YOUR EXPECTATIONS OR BE FREE FROM MISTAKES,
    ERRORS OR DEFECTS.

    Between those two statements, I’d be running straight for AAA to book a rental car, instead of this site.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I’ll sidestep the ethical question. Each person acts according to their own conscious.

    If the LW believed or reasonably believed that he was entitled to use the code, then I’d be inclined to give him a break. But I do not see how that is possible in this case. Ethics aside, if you use a discount code that you know you are not entitled to use, and you get caught, that’s on you.

    Now if you honestly and reasonably believed you were entitled to use the code, e.g. government rate, but the fine print specifies state government or federal, but as a teacher you work for the county, then I think it should be honored. This was enough of an issue that Starwood had to issue guidelines regarding teachers using the government rate.

    The only reason to mediate is if the adjusted rate is inflated.

  • sirwired

    Do not mediate. Both his reservation and rental agreement would have listed that this “discount code” was instead a corporate rate contract code. I have no problem with Avis auditing afterwards when they figured out it he wasn’t entitled to the pricing for that contract.

    I expect what happened was that somebody in the corporate dept. at Avis noticed an uptick in the activity logged under that code, and then from there it’s pretty straightforward to see who claimed it and audit everybody who was not a Florida resident and/or they could perform an audit on all travel outside Florida.

    I don’t blame them for not running full verification every time somebody picks up a car with a corporate code; it would make the checkout process quite tedious. For my corporate contract we have separate codes for official vs. personal travel. I cannot imagine how I would manage to prove to somebody at checkout that I was on official travel; there’s not any sort of documentation I could possibly provide that would do so; at least, not right at checkout.

  • Chris_In_NC

    Hmmm… someone correct me if I am wrong, but wasn’t Autoslash the site that spammed the message boards a while back?
    I digress. As Sirwired said, do not mediate.

  • BillCCC

    I wouldn’t touch this with a ten foot pole. Why would you advocate for somebody that admitted to using a fraudulent code to obtain a discount? Let the OP fight with Autoslash.

  • Bubbles

    I voted yes but only because I put the benefit of the doubt on the OP. If the site you used to book shows no indication that the account belonged to a different company, then I think that’s an honest mistake.

    I use Enterprise for all of my rentals and it clears says the company name when I log in. If that is the case with this rental, then the OP knowingly committed fraud by going ahead with the rental.

    A bigger question: Why would Avid accept company business rentals through travelocity? That seems like a bigger issue.

  • Nikki

    Sorry, I’m with the majority on this one. I wouldn’t touch it with someone else’s 10-foot pole.

    I just love how some of these LWers think that they’re as entitled as someone that had requested help before. The best reason that Chris was able to help the last guy was because that LW kept good records. Where’s the entitlement and proof for this one? – – state gov’t ID, proof from the Autoslash site (screen capture, etc)? What, Chris is expected to assist with nothing but your word to help you, when you couldn’t be bothered to keep some kind of record that would back you up? Psh.

    I usually have a bit more sympathy for those that need assistance from you, Chris… but I can’t find it with this guy. It seems to have flown out the window after he said you “have” to help him. No, the only thing you “have” to do is pay your taxes, and even that’s questionable.

  • Alan Gore

    Definitely mediate. This is the same situation as the Starbucks shopper last week. Any site that accepts promotional codes should determine the validity of the code at the time the deal is entered into. Once a customer has signed a contract, she will make decisions (miles driven per day, and so on) on the assumption that the terms contracted for are valid, just as the company will. The company can’t back out by retroactively deciding that the code accepted was fishy. What if the customer called back several days after checkin and claimed “your seat gave me a sore back!”?

    Avis’ crappy IT implementation is not the customer’s problem, any more than Starbucks’ was in last week’s case.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    Nope. Sorry. Googling around and using a promo code you found on Flyertalk or elsewhere is playing with fire. Corporate rates are negotiated based on the rental needs of the specific business. Just because you found the code online doesn’t entitle you to use it. And for the person below me who is taking the customer’s side, I’m sure they would also defend the customer if they booked the AAA rate at a hotel when they weren’t a AAA member.

    Another word of warning-some of these corporate codes include CDW. If you use the code when you are not specifically entitled to do so, rental companies can and will void the CDW and decide to hold you responsible for all damage. It’s all in the rental agreement.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    The Marriott website allows you to book a AAA rate without verifying membership at time of reservation. I’m sure you also support non-AAA members booking the rate, right?

  • bcalsk

    wouldnt it just make sense to charge everyone the best possible rate then this tyope of thing doesnt occur?

  • MarkKelling

    But when you show up at the Marriott you booked the AAA rate at without any proof that you are a AAA member, you do not get the discount and you end up paying the rack rate (unless the desk clerk is not doing their job and doesn’t verify). This is clearly stated when you book and appears in large letters on your confirmation.

  • TonyA_says

    Why is this even a question? You use a code that you are INELIGIBLE for and then you complain. This ain’t hacking, it’s cheating.

  • Sometime_flier

    But it’s not a case of a different company. It was a government employee discount that he is not entitled to.

  • MarkKelling

    There are hundreds of discount codes you can use at most of the major car rental companies to get a discount. Some are for the general public, some are restricted to specific corporate renters. Every time I have rented using any type of code, the rental confirmation always comes up with wording to the effect that the code will be verified and if I don’t qualify to use that code for whatever reason I will lose the discount. That’s what happened here. The LW was not entitled to the discount, plain and simple. He got caught. He paid.

    I have used the Southwest discount code to rent from Hertz a lot in the past when that discount was actually decent (I use other codes now since they are better discounts). This code was one digit off from a private corporate code. A few times I mistyped the code into the web page and got the other discount which was about 10% more than the WN code. When I noticed, I canceled the reservations and rebooked with the correct code. Why? Because the web page said “proof of discount eligibility required.” I didn’t want to take the chance that my eligibility would be checked.

  • TonyA_says

    But didn’t he try to defraud the other party in the contract?
    So the aggrieved party is simply enforcing the terms of the contract.

  • sirwired

    The credit card dispute won’t necessarily go through (I’m sure Avis has a letter it can send to the bank when it gets a dispute about a mis-used contract code), and even if it does go through, Avis can send the amount to a collection agency. They may not successfully collect, but getting a collection agency off your back is really time-consuming, at best, as long as the creditor is not completely blowing smoke.

  • Sometime_flier

    Don’t touch this one. The way his letter is worded, this is a situation where he knew darned well that the code was for government employees. His assertion that nobody told him actual employment was required is disingenuous.

  • sirwired

    They often ask for an AAA card at check-in, and will, depending on the whim of the desk clerk, re-rate you if you can’t produce it.

    That said, the AAA discount is usually a LOT smaller than corporate rental car discounts. (My company gets a flat rate in the low 30-s (plus tax and fees), including CDW/LDW, in almost any airport in the country.)

  • sirwired

    It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to demand full documentation every time somebody shows up with a corporate rate code attached to their reservation. Collecting documentation at time of rental is tedious, and may not even be possible. (I can’t think of a way I could easily prove I’m on business travel…) As long as the contract mentions it’s a contract rate that’s being used, I don’t see a post-rental audit as being unreasonable.

    This is no different from the bank asking for their money back if you cash a check that later turns out to be made of proverbial rubber.

    This isn’t like the “Starbucks” case at all!. There, Starbucks confiscated all the codes because at least one was fraudulent. There’s no question at all that this guy isn’t entitled to the rate he claimed.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I’d use a stronger word than cheating.

  • Freehiker

    Busted. Plain and simple.

  • Tom_Blackwell

    The amount of the rental should have been settled before he was given keys to the vehicle. I don’t like the idea of an “audit” after the rental is completed, or that one customer could pay more than another for the same rental/service.

  • sirwired

    No, that wouldn’t make sense at all. Business and organizations negotiate volume discounts, companies run special promotions, etc. Such deals make sense for both parties; a business renting a lot of cars gets a discount, and the rental company doesn’t have to individually convince each renter (via advertising and marketing) to choose them vs. the competition.

  • bcalsk

    if the companies want volume and give discounts based on that why wouldnt they want more volume not less and if thats the case why restrict the coupns if the give the rate to GE why not Xerox or someone who owns a lightbulb or a copier

  • sirwired

    Your bank, as a courtesy, will often let you receive cash from a check, even before they’ve verified it’s good. (They don’t have to do this.) Nobody thinks it’s unreasonable for the bank to ask for their money back if the check turns out later to be bad, for whatever reason.

    It’s not like this was some sort of minor coupon… the rental contract and reservation both clearly would have stated who the rate was for; so the fact that they want their money back when they found out he wasn’t entitled to it should not have come as a surprise.

  • John Baker

    To quote Monty Python… “Run Away… Run Away”

    If you won’t take a case from someone that books a fat-fingered fare, why would you take one from someone that used a discount code they weren’t entitled too. At least in the first case, there is some chance that the person is an innocent victim. There’s 0 chance in this case.

  • Fishplate

    ” the rental contract and reservation both clearly would have stated who the rate was for;”

    So it would have been easy to verify his eligibility by checking ID or a travel authorization, right? Would have taken less than 30 seconds at the counter.

  • Fishplate

    I still don’t see where it states he was aware of the requirement…he found a code and used it. Lots of codes on the internet, and not all of them have stated restrictions.

  • TonyA_says

    Are you saying the rental car company does not have the right to do a post audit?

  • sirwired

    Not everybody gets an ID badge at work, nor carries around a fresh official letter for every business trip. (My “travel authorization” consists of me telling my boss on the phone “I’m visiting so-and-so tomorrow.”)

    And why should the onus be on the rental agency to verify, at time of rental, every time, that the customer isn’t committing fraud?

  • sirwired

    For corporate contract rentals, it’s not like an online coupon for some trinkets; the reservation and contract both state that it’s a corporate rate, who the rate is for, and have a note that it’s subject to verification.
    If he wasn’t aware of the requirement, he didn’t read his paperwork.

  • Fishplate

    And apparently, neither did the rental clerk.

  • Fishplate

    No, I’m saying that an audit at the time of rental is easily performed. How does a post audit turn up a detail that can’t be verified at the time of rental?

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    I have been asked hundreds of times to show my AAA card at the various hotels in the Marriott brandchain over the years.

    When you book a reservation on the Hilton website for a hotel using the AAA rate, it asks you to enter your AAA number. One time, I did a typo and it wasn’t initially accepted.

    A few times, I have run into digital challenged employees at various businesses (i.e. hotels, stores, etc.) that won’t initially accept the digital image of my AAA that is stored in the AAA app on my iPhone.

  • Fishplate

    “Not everybody gets an ID badge at work”

    Do you think that employees of the State of Florida have some sort of official ID?

  • SoBeSparky

    This code did not originate from a third party. The discount system was conceived, numbered and executed by Avis. It is its responsibility to create an easily audited system. After all, credit card companies can approve a charge in nanoseconds. So too, it was Avis responsibility to administer this discount with fairness to consumers.

    “After the fact” is not a way of life in the security business. The code should have been approved or rejected at the outset. If it could not be, then it was Avis’ fault for inventing such a faulty marketing program.

  • TonyA_says

    fraud – wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    This is something nobody else brought up and it’s a bit off topic, but here goes:

    I don’t like the idea of government discount rates. I see them a lot in Northern Virginia and it appears to mostly be a form of bribery and even a form of backhanded taxation since ordinary consumers have to pay more to make up for the difference. What if a company doesn’t offer the state of Florida a discount? What about conflicts of interests by regulators and legislators between companies when one is giving discounts and the other isn’t?

    I had a dispute with a tow truck company and eventually got them to come to a reasonable agreement but my mechanic advised me that it would be tough because the company was a huge contributor to the police union and any problem they had with an irate consumer, they had the police answer within a heartbeat (I later got internal affairs to mediate.)

    All that said, I agree he wasn’t entitled to the discount code and it was proper for the company to pull it.

  • John Baker

    I’m sure our resident attorneys will tell me I’m wrong but this seems to be textbook theft via fraud (although I doubt anyone is going to prosecute him). He obtained goods at a rate he wasn’t entitled to via fraud (using a coupon code he wasn’t entitled to). Sorry … I have no sympathy for this guy.

  • Fishplate

    Can you point out where this blog states he was unaware this code was for use only by certain entities prior to having it pointed out by the post audit?

  • sirwired

    Not all government employees have, or need, an ID badge. If you work in a small office (as in, one without a fancy security setup with swipe-cards) why would you need one? Even somebody that works directly with the public doesn’t truly need anything more than an unadorned name tag.

  • TonyA_says

    Do you expect him to incriminate himself more?

  • MarkKelling

    The code was made available to the LW through a third party, not directly from Avis, and was used without authorization.

    Maybe Avis needs a more secure way to allow corporate and government discounts to be applied than simply typing in the code on their web site. This does not mean that anyone renting a car from Avi should be allowed to enter discount codes they randomly find on the internet and receive discounts they are not authorized for.

  • sirwired

    I don’t see how the fact that the rental company trusts that their customers aren’t trying to commit fraud means they can’t recover because they discovered fraud afterwards.

  • Bubbles

    Regardless of government vs private, that doesn’t matter. Government is still a business rental. It’s just if there were visual indications that the code you’re using clearly belongs to a business he’s not a part of, government/non-profit/private/whatever, then you don’t use it or at least you expect the possibility of being denied.

  • tio2girl

    Frankly, he lost me when he said you HAD to get involved. (And I’m a pushover for these kinds of situations!) I can sympathize, though. I frequently visit sites like Retail Me Not to look for discount codes before purchasing an item. Some of the codes are provided by the companies themselves; some are provided by individuals and may have stipulations that aren’t listed. I can easily see someone finding a code online at a discount code site and trying it out thinking the code will be rejected automatically if they don’t meet the code’s stipulations. I would be upset too if this had happened to me, but I still don’t think that he has a leg to stand on.

  • sirwired

    How is a government discount any different from a corporate discount? Companies negotiate bulk rates for travel purchase all the time; I don’t see anything suspicious about a government doing the same thing.

    If govt. employees on official travel paid nothing but the “rack” rate, that would cost taxpayers a LOT more!

    And how does this automatically cost other renters more? The rental company gets a “captive audience” when it comes to sales/marketing costs, which saves them money. This money is passed on to the company that negotiated the discount.

  • MarkKelling

    I have a badge for work. Nothing on it would identify the company I work for. That is supposedly for security reasons and is a practice many companies are adopting. So what good would showing that do to help identify my qualifications for the corporate discount?

  • Joe_D_Messina

    I can see your point but it’s not really any different than any other large corporation or entity having corporate rates. Bring a company a lot of business and they give you a standing rate. I’d prefer government do this than pay the walk-up rate.

  • TonyA_says

    Maybe the rental company gave him an opportunity to rebut their claim and the LW couldn’t because he isn’t a state employee.

  • sirwired

    This wasn’t a simple coupon code. The reservation and contract both would have mentioned who the rate was for, along with a note that it is subject to be verified.

  • SoBeSparky

    You miss the point. The code system was created by Avis, not a third party. Just as Avis gets credit approval before handing over the keys, they also have the proviso that renters show proper discount code ID before rentals. After the fact is a no go. Would they let the car roll out with a fraudulent credit card? Or fake driver’s license? Why then does Avis not create and administer a program to protect both an innocent consumer (not realizing an ID is invalid) and the firm from unauthorized use of specific discounts?

  • Fishplate

    In other words….you will convict him of fraud without evidence?

  • Alan Gore

    And in either of those cases, validity of the discount is verified by the time of checkin.

  • sirwired

    When I travel on company business, I don’t have any sort of official document proving this. But if the rental company audited me afterwards, I could certainly have my management write up something if asked, or have the corporate travel company call them to verify.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    I don’t see how it matters in this case if they get an official ID or not. The OP freely admits he doesn’t work for them. His only defense was that he didn’t know he couldn’t use the code. Once he admitted he wasn’t an employee, they were well within their rights to waive the discount.

  • Fishplate

    Or maybe they didn’t. That’s my point. Everyone’s coming down on this innocent citizen for no reason.

  • tio2girl

    Good clarification. Thanks.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Not a question of “innocence.” It’s a question of whether he was eligible to use that code. He wasn’t. And he freely admits he didn’t qualify. Once that point was discovered, the discount went away. Not a question of guilt or innocence, just one of eligibility.

  • TonyA_says

    I guess code eligibilty is a challenge system.
    You can be challenged at any time, even after you return the car.
    The audit makes sense since the rental counter agents might not care to challenge at time of pickup.

  • MarkKelling

    “Would they let the car roll out with a fraudulent credit card? Or fake driver’s license? ”

    Happens more often than you might imagine. Stolen credit cards are used a lot. When the card is not presented until time of rental, the fact it is stolen may not be made known to Avis until after the car is gone (i.e. the person the card is issued to might not know it is stolen yet and has not reported it). And if someone is brazen enough to use a stolen credit card, how difficult is it for them to also get a fake license that is good enough to fool the cursory check done before you drive away?

  • Raven_Altosk

    Ehhh…I think Avis is just doing damage control. I’ve check out those “code” sites before and they all seem a bit skeevy…

  • John Baker

    A little follow up from Avis’s website

    Unauthorized use of discount codes

    Avis issues discount codes to individuals or authorized entities for their sole use. By entering into this enrollment profile you represent you have the express authorization of Avis to use such code(s) affiliated with the enrollment. Any other use will be viewed as an unlawful use and theft of services for which Avis reserves the right to remove any discount code information from your profile(s) and/or rental(s), in addition to refusal to rent to you and can pursue legal remedies including but not limited to reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.

    http://www.avis.com/car-rental/html/global/en/terms/PrefMbrGlobalTermsMiddle-text.html?MID=avis.com_terms

  • sirwired

    If go to the bank, you can sign the back of a check and your bank will usually let you walk out with at least some cash as long as the check isn’t something scribbled with crayon and a claim that it came from the International Bank of Fraud. But if on further investigation, the check is bad, they ask you for the money back.

    And if you use a discount code that Avis later figures out you aren’t entitled to, they get to ask for their money back.

  • TonyA_says

    I suspect you did not read the thread closely.
    I used the word cheat.
    Then Jeanne said she would describe it differently. So I proferred a different word – fraud.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    FlyerTalk has entire threads devoted to discount codes that people can input without anyone checking IDs. Search for “AutoSlash” on FT to see what I mean. “Skeevy” is a mild term.

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    You are right, Chris, go after Autoslash if the OP can prove there was no mention of the Florida connection when he got the discount coupon.

  • Fishplate

    They can. But if the customer doesn’t know he’s committing fraud, since he’s using a code available to the general public, then how is that the customer’s fault? Especially when the vendor has simple, effective measures to prevent the fraud before it happens?

  • TonyA_says

    Caught with his hands in the coupon jar?

  • Thoroughlyamused

    Experiences vary. I can’t recall ever being asked for a AAA card at check in.

    I just take issue with Alan Gore’s notion that a customer is entitled to use any price they find online regardless of whether or not they are actually eligible for said price. In other words, obtaining a car under false pretenses in direct violation of the rental agreement is perfectly fine as long as the rental agency doesn’t catch you before it happens.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    So you would prefer rental agencies demand proof of corporate eligibility at the rental counter, right?

  • Fishplate

    Which verification did not happen. That’s the fault of the rental company.

  • SoBeSparky

    But Avis made NO effort to establish the discount ID verification. Avis performs a credit check, driver’s license check and easily could have performed a pre-rental check on the discount code. They freely chose NOT to require discount ID or other verification.

    I must show my AARP card or other discount qualification when asked. So Avis must go to the effort in advance to ask if their own discount system is being properly applied. The obligation should be to ask before the contract is executed, not days or weeks after the rental is completed and “final” bill issued.

  • Fishplate

    “It’s a question of whether he was eligible to use that code. He wasn’t. ”

    But if the requirement was not explained when the code was presented, how is the customer to know?

  • Fishplate

    “The audit makes sense since the rental counter agents might not care to challenge at time of pickup.”

    So now it’s the customer’s fault if Avis doesn’t properly train or supervise their employees? Again, their failure to verify at the time of rental is the crux of the problem.

  • emanon256

    Yes it was, I was just wondering why we haven’t seen them in a while. I tried them once and they gave me some employee code for a company I never heard of, and it only saved $5 a day, I thoguth it was too risky.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    I can only imagine the complaints you’d begin to get if rental agencies demanded proof of corporate affiliation at the counter. “It was late at night, the airline lost my bags and the rental company charged me more because I didn’t have any proof on me.”

    When people don’t try to fraudulently book rentals from the beginning, the system works for everyone.

  • Fishplate

    Sure. Why not? Takes only a few seconds, and save both parties no end of legal trouble later.

  • sirwired

    Errr, the code wasn’t “available to the general public” any more than my bank account number is free money “available to the general public” if somebody posts it on a web site somewhere. If you pay your cable bill out of my bank account, you can be quite sure that when I get my money back, the cable company will not be swayed by your argument that the cable company should have worked harder to keep you from using somebody else’s account number.

    The code was clearly marked with who it was for, along with a note that it was subject to eligibility. It’s not unreasonable for Avis to choose to not treat every corporate customer like a potential criminal, and audit afterwards instead.

  • Fishplate

    Oh, no, I read it just fine. But you have yet to provide any indication that the customer willingly or knowingly committed fraud prior to the notification after the rental and the post-rental audit.

    He knows it now, but his point is that the rental agency should have known it beforehand, since they had all the tools needed at their disposal to prevent the rental from ever taking place. There’s no excuse for discovering this only after the rental is concluded.

  • Fishplate

    Had he known pre-rental that the rate was not valid, who knows what option he might have chosen. Instead, he and Avis agreed on a rate.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    Not everyone carries proof of corporate affiliation with them. For employees without ID badges, it could mean carrying a business card, paystub, or some other document which they may not have on them at the time.

    But using your logic, if a customer doesn’t have these documents at the counter, you would support the rental company when they remove the corporate discount, right? Because if the rental company isn’t allowed to come back after return to claim ineligibility, surely that works both ways, meaning the renter can’t come back after the fact to provide proof for their discount.

  • emanon256

    So what if the renter signs up for the program where they can skip the counter, grab they keys, and drive? How are they supposed to verify the renter then?

  • sirwired

    Treat every customer like a potential criminal while they are at the airport! Yeah, that’s real great customer service!

    “What’s that, Mr. Smith? Your job doesn’t have an ID badge? Well, we’ll just charge you full rack rate and let you work it out with our friendly billing dept. afterwards! Oh, you can’t afford to cover the difference out of pocket? Sorry to hear that… the sidewalk is that way!”

  • Fishplate

    “The code was clearly marked with who it was for, along with a note that it was subject to eligibility.”

    This is a material fact that is stated nowhere in the article.

  • sirwired

    Avis agreed to supply a discount to people traveling for the FL Dept. of Something or Other, and the contract and reservation was noted as such. They didn’t agree to supply a discount to everybody that can type a six-digit code into a website.

    If he didn’t know he wasn’t eligible before he traveled, it’s not Avis’ fault he didn’t read his reservation e-mail.

  • Fishplate

    Which is exactly what they did here.

    If you provide a corporate discount, at the same time provide information on how to prove eligibility at the time of reservation or rental. Problem solved.

    Otherwise, live with your lack of accountability.

  • sirwired

    I’ve rented plenty of corporate rentals, from every major company. They always have language like this in both the reservation and the contract.

  • Fishplate

    Oh, and in this particular case. lack of corporate ID to check was not a problem.

  • emanon256

    My thought too. And as someone who signs up for all of the programs where I can skip the rental counter, I’ve never been asked to prove my affiliation, as I never speak to someone at the rental counter. I also use corporate rates when traveling for the corporation I am doing the work for, and government rates when working for the government, and public discounts when traveling for pleasure. I had Auto Slash suggest I sue some rate for Accenture employees when I tried them, and decided it wasn’t worth the risk.

  • DisqusUser

    Hello All, I’m the person in question here. First of all, my sincere thanks to Christopher for his help and guidance. Also, this site is a great resource for millions of travelers.

    I wish to clarify the situation. When I booked this rental, I did not input a discount code (I didn’t manually enter the discount code). My Travelocity confirmation indicated only the final estimated rate and didn’t indicate this code or a breakdown of the charges. So I didn’t intentionally use the code and was unaware of this ineligibility when the rental began. The one lesson I learnt is not to book rentals via third party websites.

    As per Christopher’s suggestion, I contacted AVIS management. They were kind enough to listen to me and they agreed to remove the additional charges.

  • Fishplate

    And I’ve made many a government rental. And I always have an ID plus a travel authorization, which I have cheerfully shown when requested.

  • Fishplate

    ID, business card, letterhead. Done. No problem.

    They ask for a driver’s license and insurance, don’t they? Nobody seems offended or unnecessarily delayed by that process.

  • Fishplate

    “you would support the rental company when they remove the corporate discount, right? ”

    Yes, absolutely. Then they could provide the required documents later, reinstating the discount. That’s fair.

  • Fishplate

    “Not all government employees have, or need, an ID badge.”

    I suspect that this is false over 99% of the time.

  • emanon256

    If they had one flat rate, they couldn’t predict how many cars they will need and when. They could run out of cars and then have people show up last minute who need cars that they have to turn away, or they could have to many cars on the lot and no one renting. The prices are adjusted to meet supply with demand. Lower demand, lower prices, etc.

    A big part of these rate contracts are so the rental company can predict volume. For example, I had to have 5 cars a week in Boston for 2 years. Car rental companies want that because they can guarantee 5 rentals a week in the same location for an extended period of time, rather than marketing various rates and seeing who shows up. Because of this guaranteed volume, they agreed to a lower rate. Lower in fact that leasing 5 cars for 2 years. It was a win for me because I saved money, and a win for the rental company because they had guaranteed business for 2 years. Yes, I paid quite a bit less than any one else would, but if they simply made all rentals that price, then some weeks I would show up and there would be no cars.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    Basically, you got something for nothing because you made enough noise. No sympathy.

  • emanon256

    How on earth would Avis know if the person was on business travel for a certain entity in advance? They took him at his word, and learned he was lying.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    None of the major rental companies (Hertz, Avis group, Enterprise group) ask for insurance in the US, at least for domestic renters. When’s the last time you rented a car?

    I still have business cards and letterhead from the rental company I used to work for. I imagine many people also have old business cards and letterhead. So in reality, if you think the onus is on the rental company to check eligibility, that means calling HR and getting an employment verification for every single corporate renter. This is not customer friendly or practical. How would you like to be the guy waiting at the counter for your HR department to fax in a letter? And try calling any HR department at 10:30 at night.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    So renters can provide proof of eligibility long after the fact, but a rental company has to prove at the time of rental whether or not a renter is eligible.

    Is there ever a situation in your mind where the customer isn’t right?

  • emanon256

    I am pretty sure the OP knew he didn’t work for the Florida Department of Management Services when he made the reservation, which Avis accepted under the pretense that he did. I wouldn’t call that agreeing on a rate. That sounds a lot more like Fraud to me.

  • $16635417

    I’ve tried Autoslash in the past. They were able to find me a slightly cheaper rate using a “Car and Driver” code. There was no mention if this was a rate for people employed by “Car and Driver” or readers of the magazine. Since I am neither, I ended up cancelling and went back to the codes I know I am eligible for.

  • emanon256

    After I got off the road as an independent consultant, I started working for the state government. We have 240 employees in my office, we often travel for work, and not one of us has an ID Badge. Most don’t even have name tags. We have blank key cards to get in and out of buildings. When I worked for the government in another state as a consultant, no one had ID badges there either. I completely agree with @sirwired:disqus government employees often don’t have or need ID Badges. If I use our government rate for a rental, and get audited, I would have my employer send them a letter stating it was for official business. I don’t have anything other than a busienss card I could show Avis if they asked for proof.

    A few months ago I stayed at a hotel on the state government rate, and the person checking me in asked for proof. I showed her my busienss card and she said she needs more proof, that any one can print a business card. She refused to allow me to stay for anything less than rack rate. As I arrived on a Sunday, there was nothing I could do. When I completed my trip, I gave all of the paperwork to purchasing, and the purchasing department paid the hotel the state rate regardless of what they billed. IN all honestly, its probably easier for both entities if they simply do after the fact audits. The car rental place and/or hotel may give away more discounts than they should, but they don’t waste their employees or customers time, and the only people who get in trouble are those who get caught cheating.

  • Fishplate

    Again – there is no evidence that he knew the rate was restricted prior to renting.

  • emanon256

    I don’t see it as bribery, I see it as a discount to people who bring repeat busienss just like any corporate discount, and a tax savings as less tax money is begin used to pay for the hotel stays. As a tax payer, I favor government discounts.

  • Fishplate

    Yes, of course. But when the entire process is set up ahead of time by the rental agency, it seems logical that they should accept the burden of making sure the rental customer is able to satisfy the requirements before the rental takes place.

    They control the process, why shouldn’t they be subject to it?

  • Joe_D_Messina

    How was the customer to know that a Florida state employee discount was only intended for employees of the state of Florida? You honestly think that was a tough conclusion to come to?

  • emanon256

    I found my old companies code on there a while back.

  • Fishplate

    Good question. That’s something they would have to work out if they want ed to be fair and equitable. Maybe a corporate email verification? Maybe some ID submitted ahead of travel?

    If the rental is not made at the counter, it’s made somewhere.

  • emanon256

    Any time you enter a corporate rate, it states such, and in the contract states it’s subject to verification.

  • Fishplate

    “His only defense was that he didn’t know he couldn’t use the code.”

    But the rental agency was aware that the code was only for employees prior to the time of rental, right?

    And it seems that the requirement was not disclosed to the renter until after the completion of the rental.

    The problem is with Avis and Travelocity, apparently.

  • Fishplate

    Apparently not.

    [edit] Apparent’y not, since the Avis rep did not claim that he should have known prior to the rental that it was corporate.

  • emanon256

    When I was a traveling consultant with multiple corporate codes depending on who I was working for, and renting one to two cars each week while visiting various clients, if I had to submit paperwork and/or e-mail from clients or my corporate office for each rental ahead of time, I would refuse to work with such rental companies, as I imagine most busienss travelers would.

    I would make my rentals on-line, enter either my companies code or my clients code on-line when making the reservation, and when I get to MKE on Sunday nigth at 11pm and skip the rental counter and grab my car, then get to LGA on Wednesday at midnight and skip the counter again. This was all done without ever seeing or talking to a person other than showing my license at the exit.

  • emanon256

    Why would you say that? Try renting a car with a corporate code and look at your paperwork.

  • MarkKelling

    For most corporate plans, there is much more than just a discount on the rental cost. Some have negotiated the inclusion of the full coverage insurance. Some have guaranteed availability of cars on short notice. And so on. That is why the plan GE has and the one Xerox has may be both priced differently to the renter and be more restrictive in who is allowed to use each.

  • Fishplate

    “Why you would use Travelocity to book a corporate Avis identification number instead of using your contact administrator means one thought to me. ”

    It means that Avis allows a huge loophole in their reservation system. If corporate reservations don’t go through a contract administrator, then why does Avis accept them, only to ask questions later?

    There’s the simple solution: Use the corporate channel to book your corporate reservation.

    Doesn’t delay anyone, doesn’t burden anyone, doesn’t cause any problems later. No need for an ID, no need for proof, no need for official letters.

    And doesn’t require a lot of people to shout “Fraud!” later.

  • Fishplate

    Why should I be allowed to use a corporate rate through Travleocity, instead of through our contract administrator? Then I don’t need to read the mouse print on my paperwork.

    When I rent cars officially, it’s through our registered agent.

  • Fishplate

    As far as we know, that requirement was never disclosed until after the rental.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I don’t think the analogy holds. A credit card requires a simple yes or no response. Authorized or not.

    The appropriate/inappropriate use of a discount code is a far more human intensive question.

    Consider a University code. The authorized users may be a myriad of diverse people including staff, faculty, students, parents or current and prospective students, etc. Each group has different ID.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    BTW. This time I’m with you.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    Perhaps I should clarify my position:

    For the government itself, it should negotiate the best prices they can for OFFICIAL business. So in that regard, sure, the government like a company should negotiate the best deal they can to save on the bottom line otherwise it’s just like giving money away.

    However… I have seen discounts for government workers themselves to enjoy along with greater pay and pension benefits because their unions and close relationship with government officials allows them to be treated better than taxpayers in the private sector. My wife and I have a friend who works for the government and he regards ordinary taxpayer private workers as serfs.

    I think government unions should be shutdown and their contracts nullfiied and individual pay based upon the private sector (perhaps use the payscale for immigrants such as H1B’s to determine government worker compensation and let them see how the rest of us live.) A few years ago during the recession caused by government monetary policy to give banks money to make bad loans, a few percent of state workers were laid off and a big deal was made about in the press. This was after there was a 20 percent unemployment in the private sector.

    Under socialism, real socialism, there’s a class hierarchy just like anywhere else. The party cronies got to shop at the GUM store. In America, it’s the private sector worker that gets stuck with a silver Obamacare plan while the Cadillac plans go to government workers.

  • emanon256

    Not everyone has a registered agent or contract administrator. Every time you rent from the major rental agencies they ask for your rate code, even through places like Travelocity. In fact, I have seen some small companies who officially use Travelocity or Expedia to make all rentals by policy. It’s still the customers responsibility to read the contract they are agreeing to.

  • Fishplate

    “Not everyone has a registered agent or contract administrator. ”

    The communication from the Avis rep indicates that there was in this case.

  • MarkKelling

    So the question remains: how did the code then get associated with the rental? It seems unlikely that Travelocity is plugging random codes into reservations.

  • emanon256

    So Florida has a contract administrator who uses the rate code for most rentals. That doesn’t mean the rest of the world does.

  • DisqusUser

    OP here. It’s disheartening to see that I’m accused of fraud. As I mentioned in my reply below, I did not intentionally enter the code into the booking. My confirmation email (from Travelocity) didn’t show this code either.

  • MarkKelling

    So you actually have to sign in to Enterprise through a corporate portal to get the corporate deal. I think this is a great process because it allows Enterprise to present applicable items to you that the general public doesn’t need to know about. .

    Avis doesn’t work that way, you just fill in the blank on the web page with the code and the deal applies. Until they catch you.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Here’s my question to you: what on earth makes you believe that Christopher HAS to take your case? Why do you feel absolutely entitled to his involvement? Did you pay him a retainer? Does he owe you something that wasn’t mentioned in the article? Or did Christopher perhaps state your feelings of entitlement to his services more strongly than was actually the case?

    You ARE aware that he does this for free, right?

  • DisqusUser

    I’m not blaming anyone. All I did was to click a link. Many discount sites use cookies (similar to cashback sites) for getting commission. It could very well be an embedded link from some website.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Lordalmighty, pigs are going to fly tonight…I AGREE with you! :)

  • TonyA_says

    How did you get this AWD code? Tell us the truth.

  • Fishplate

    We are only talking about mediating this case, not all the others.

  • TonyA_says

    What? You need to enter a code in Travelocity.

  • Fishplate

    The OP says otherwise.

    “When I booked this rental, I did not input a discount code (I didn’t manually enter the discount code). My Travelocity confirmation indicated only the final estimated rate and didn’t indicate this code or a breakdown of the charges.”

  • DisqusUser

    I did not demand Christopher to take my case. I did request Christopher’s guidance through every step in the process. @elliottc:disqus , my sincere apologies if my emails requesting advice seemed like I was demanding anything.

  • LeeAnneClark

    He’s now saying he didn’t enter the code…he just clicked a link on the Autoslash site. While I’m still skeptical, this is some interesting info. I’d really like to know if he had ANY idea that the discount he was getting had anything to do with a corporate discount.

  • DisqusUser

    I did pay for the rental, so it’s not like I got something for free. Now the question might be did I get a steal on the rental. It doesn’t seem like that either — I just checked Enterprise’s rates through Costco membership service. For the exact same rental period of an economy, I’m getting a rate of $682 including all taxes, lower than what I paid for this rental.

  • emanon256

    I am talking about this practice in general. However, in geenral, the contract administrator would be the one to give the employee the code and regardless of what code is entered, it states it is subject to verification of eligibility.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    When I reserve a hotel through my corporate website, I go through the travel agency retained by the company. No discount codes used or required.

  • TonyA_says

    This code is everywhere in Flyertalk (and other sites like Fatwallet, etc.)
    Search it yourself AWD A113400
    That said, expect Avis to audit abusers of this code.

    For the record this is the official site for the code: bit dot ly/1xpairh

    Avis Contract Summary

    AWD #A113400

    State Term Contract 518-020-10-1

    Vehicle Rentals: Autos Only

    Please review the Contract Summary for information, State of FL Avis
    Worldwide Discount (AWD) codes (business and leisure), and requirements
    concerning use of this contract for Business and Leisure purposes.
    Access to the rates and terms offered via this contract is limited to
    employees of State of FL government agencies and employees of eligible
    users of the state term contract, as defined in Rule 60A-1.005, Florida
    Administrative Code.

    It is required that all customers of this contract present a valid employee ID when picking up the rental vehicle.

    I guess if you don’t present a valid FL State Id, expect the audit later.

  • Lindabator

    And those codes are not something that is easily read at the counter either. We have corporate accounts, an agency preferred discount account, and individual accounts. Trust me, WE keep their information in profiles because WE could never remember, and this is just with a handful of codes. No way the main desk could know.

  • Lindabator

    There is NO WAY the desk knows what the several THOUSAND codes out there are in reference to — he used a code he did not qualify for, he got caught. End of story.

  • Lindabator

    You are in lala land – there are literally THOUSANDS of different discount codes given out – most are kept private, but scammers post these for other scammers to try and use. It causes problems in some cases, but your rental agreement makes it clear YOU are responsible for any fraudulent use of coupons/discount doces you are not entitled to. The front desk has no way to track all these numbers.

  • SoBeSparky

    And the bank requires a photo ID, fingerprint and account with the bank in question.

  • SoBeSparky

    Either your ID carries State of Florida or not. Pretty simple. But when the vendor makes no effort whatsoever to verify discount qualification, they should be at risk, not the renter.

  • Lindabator

    Good point – our clients ALL have discount codes – but the company CLEARLY gets a monthly list of all said rentals, and THEY are the ones to question any names not theirs — happened to a client once when a new guy gave the code to his friend, and he passed it along. Number was changed for future use.

  • SoBeSparky

    Again, this is the discount design of Avis. They made the system, and if they cannot verify it, then fault lies only with Avis and no one else.

  • Lindabator

    Correct – and it also allows for free 2nd drivers, underage drivers, corporate billing, etc, depending on account.

  • TonyA_says

    Take a close look at this picture. Then think hard.

  • Lindabator

    True – and all the things the COMPANY wants covered is covered for all its renters. And the renter has no hassles when picking up. And the RENTAL company doesn’t have to worry about pitching to the renter — all set.

  • MarkKelling

    what picture? :-)

    OK, I see it now.

  • MarkKelling

    So we could blame Travelocity for accepting a click through from AutoSlash that embedded the code somewhere in the system.

  • TonyA_says

    Read the agreement between Avis and the State of Florida.

  • TonyA_says

    there’s usually a delay before a pic posts

  • MarkKelling

    So since Avis did not comply with their own requirements of the contract, i.e. did not check the employee ID, then they are to blame for allowing this rate?

  • DisqusUser

    I’m not saying that. All I’m saying is that if they had told me about the code and its ineligibility when the rental started, I could have avoided this situation.

  • Lindabator

    We even have a company whose rentals are all BILLED to the company – so yes, the company gives a credit card, but nothing is charged on it. They pay this monthly. So if someone uses THEIR code….

  • DisqusUser

    The truth is that I did not “get” this code. If I got this code, then I could have directly gone to avis website and booked the rental right? Why would I go through rate comparison websites and then Travelocity?

  • Lindabator

    It clearly shows he HAD A DISCOUNT CODE – one he was not entitled to.

  • SoBeSparky

    I really don’t care what the agreement states. We are talking about consumerism and consumer rights. Avis created a discount program, Avis qualifies discount codes for certain organizations, and Avis applies the system to rental contracts. After-the-fact upcharges because of vendor laziness (failure to make any effort to qualify the discount) is wrong, no matter what an agreement may say.

    (Apply the opposite. Let’s say I rent without the discount code, and Avis charges rack rate. After the rental, and final billing, I present a discount card. Do I get the discount? Fat chance. This post-billing adjustment only runs one way, to the advantage of the vendor.)

    If Avis wanted to stop fraudulent discount codes, then it would scan appropriate IDs at the time of rental. If Avis wanted to rent under fraudulent pretenses, then it would rent no questions asked on a deeply discounted contract and then disqualify renters after the fact.

  • TonyA_says

    Are you now saying that you used Autoslash to book a rental car for you and THEY were the ones who entered the FL State Employee’s discount code for YOU?

  • DisqusUser

    I’m sorry if it seemed like I demanded anything from Chris. I only requested his guidance through every step, my sincere apologies to @elliottc if my advice requests sounded as if I’m demanding anything.

  • TonyA_says

    No the exact opposite. The LW was not entitled to any benefit under this contracted rate at all.
    If he was a FL ST employee he would have to show valid ID or else Avis did not have to give him this rate. And FYI this rate is good only for OFFICIAL State business. Those traveling for personal reasons use a different code.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    Not a valid comparison. Costco’s website won’t let you check rates for past dates. It’s possible there was high demand for some reason during the time you booked.

    I actually think Autoslash needs to share some of the blame here, as since you booked through them, they plugged in a random corporate code on the reservation which you didn’t seem to know about. But in the end, you were booked for a rate which you didn’t qualify for, and that isn’t the rental company’s fault.

  • Lindabator

    Apples & Oranges – when you book thru an agencie’s site, they automatically add the profile information to these bookings. Our agency has dozens of negotiated rates – we book, but I can GUARANTEE there is a code in the booking. Hotels, cars, even limo services.

  • Lindabator

    Thank you – he probably LINKED to it – which is the same as inputting the number.

  • Lindabator

    And that is HOW you got that rate – you were in the wrong, so I feel sorry that Avis was so generous with you in this case.

  • Lindabator

    Yeah, he linked to the code and it automatically entered. He STILL knew he was ineligible. Sorry that Avis was so generous this time!

  • $16635417

    BINGO! Read my post elsewhere in the thread, I tried autoslash …once…and they reserved a car from me with hertz using a code I did not qualify for. I only found it because I took the extra step to pull up the booking on Hertz’ website and noticed it.

  • Lindabator

    NO – if my client is booking at 3:00 AM on Sunday, they can do so online – and USE THEIR VALID DISCOUNT CODE. The key here is they know it is valid, they did not go to some skeevy site to troll for discount codes.

  • John Baker

    See below… Avis deals with unauthorized use of a discount code in their T&Cs. Seems to me that they are (or were) coming after him for the minimum of what they could. Black letter in the agreement using an unauthorized code is theft. Seems to me that asking him to pay the difference is a little like catching someone shoplifting and just having them pay for the item instead of having them arrested.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    I concur. I’m sure there’s a discount/computer code somewhere in the system that the hotel/car uses to determine rates. I just didn’t see it in the travel agent system I was/am locked into.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    That’s how Autoslash works-their system plugs in random corporate codes to make renters believe they are getting a discount. Enterprise group has blocked Autoslash from their system for this reason.

  • TonyA_says

    You are plain wrong. This discount program is an agreement between 2 parties only – Avis and State of Florida.
    All others are not entitled to use this agreement.
    The use of the code is purely administrative.

  • TonyA_says

    This is like saying if the cops don’t catch you speeding, then you are not speeding :-)

  • Fishplate

    “The use of the code is purely administrative.”

    Then how in the world is it applied by Travelocity, transparently to the user?

  • TonyA_says

    He was still NOT entitled to the discount because the code was improperly used.

  • Fishplate

    “There is NO WAY the desk knows what the several THOUSAND codes out there are in reference to ”

    Avis doesn’t use computers?

  • Fishplate

    “The front desk has no way to track all these numbers.”

    Patently ridiculous. If they use a computer and software to register customers, they have software to sort codes and display requirements.

  • Fishplate

    He did not even know what the code was. You are reading something that isn’t written.

  • Fishplate

    You are reading something that isn’t written.

  • Fishplate

    No, it’s like saying if you read the sign on the side of the road, you assume that is the speed limit. You don’t find out later it was something else when you get mailed a ticket.

  • TonyA_says

    Do you understand WHO is entitled to this discount under the contract between Avis and the State of Florida?
    Just because you USE the code does not mean you are entitled to it.

  • Fishplate

    You keep asking irrelevant questions.

    If I don’t know that I’m using a code that I’m not entitled to, and the rental agency doesn’t ask me either, how am I supposed to know that I’m doing something wrong?

  • TonyA_says

    Irrelevant? Don’t you want to know why your rate dropped?
    You are beginning to sound like a lawyer for drug dealers :-)

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    As I read the OP’s letter to Avis, that’s his contention.

    “One of your representatives told me that this rate would be honored for this rental since it was already done, so I kindly request you to honor her word.”

  • Fishplate

    OP’s rate didn’t’ drop. It stayed the same from the first click all through the rental period.

    Again, you keep trying to say something that isn’t germane to this case.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    That was the gist of the many, many sites I skimmed this morning – most reputable car rental places have blocked AutoSlash. Their strategy now is to tell people to book elsewhere, then forward the reservation to them so that they can find savings for the customer.

    As @bodega3 has mentioned many times, it’s a good idea to monitor a car rental reservation to see if the rates have gone down until the date you pick up the car. Again, many of those sites I looked at have said something along the lines of AutoSlash providing a monitoring service PLUS applying codes that they have at their disposal. That last part is what bothers me. AutoSlash’s reputation is pretty poor. Anyone Internet-savvy enough to have found AutoSlash in the first place would have run across the same stories I ran across.

  • TonyA_says

    No matter what AI (the LW) says, he is NOT entitled to this rate.
    What’s already done? The coupon (ID) abuse?
    Avis has the right to fix this and get what is rightfully theirs.
    Folks should learn a lesson not to use a coupon that they are not entitled to (even when you use an agent to do your cheating for you).

  • TonyA_says

    I wonder if Carver can opine if the LW can sue this auto rental search site.

  • MarkKelling

    That’s what I am thinking may have happened to the LW. The list of names made it to someone responsible for verification at FL government and they went back to Avis and said this was unauthorized.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    That was my interpretation of what the OP wrote.

    Tried to do Google-Fu on this guy, and ran across a LOT of different Anand Iyers out there, most of whom are associated with computer or tech firms. Mr. Iyer has chosen to use “AI” as his screen name, which is a kind of inside joke for computer geeks: “Artificial Intelligence”. I know that I’m going right off the speculation deep end, but my cynical hackles have been raised and aren’t lying back down. Need to go eat some chocolate or something to start thinking happier thoughts.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Ahhhh. Okay, so would he have known this? Is it common knowledge that what they are doing is unsavory? I’ve never heard of them, but then I really don’t spend a lot of time searching for discounts.

  • The Original Joe S

    When times are good, people in the private sector laugh at public employees, calling them suckers for working for sub-par salaries and benefits. When times get bad, private sector salaries fall, but public sector compensation remains static [by law], people are jealous and want to take things away from the public employees.
    Seems to me that most people nowdays would rather deprive another of something that they themselves do not have instead of earning that something for themselves.

  • LFH0

    Or more precisely, it is not the contract between Avis and Florida that binds the renter against the use of the discount code; it is the contract between Avis and the renter that may prohibit the application of certain discounted rates by using Florida’s code.

    (But that being said, if Avis accepted the renter’s offer to pay a discounted rate, and assuming the renter did not engage in misrepresentation as part of his offer to Avis, e.g., falsely claiming to be an employee of Florida, then Avis should be held to its acceptance. The question of whether there was misrepresentation is a separate and substantial question, about which I do not opine.)

  • TonyA_says

    The LW’s rate is the contracted rate between Avis and the State of Florida for outside FL rentals since he rented the car in NJ.
    No matter how much I want to be hacker :-), my mind tells me unless I am a Florida State employee, I am not entitled to this rate.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Iiiinteresting! I did a little research, and found a NYT article about Autoslash with the following passage:

    “Avis’s brands are not on the AutoSlash site today, a company spokesman, John Barrows, added, because the company still worries about customers who may end up with a rate code that is not intended for them. “This places the customer in a position of unknowingly becoming involved in a potentially fraudulent transaction,” his statement read. “Further, if a customer reserves a car using a discount to which they are not entitled, the reservation may be declined, creating an inconvenience for the traveler and a customer service problem for our brands.”

    “This attempt at tar and feathering doesn’t sit particularly well with Mr. Weinberg. He said that AutoSlash had not used ineligible codes since 2010, and he knew of no AutoSlash customers who had been turned away by rental car counter workers for having booked with one.”

    Well it seems that Mr. Weinberg should be updated that there is at least ONE customer who was given a code for which he wasn’t eligible!

    This doesn’t change my overall opinion about the validity of this case…5 minutes of googling brought up enough concern about Autoslash that I wouldn’t go near it. No discount is worth this kind of uncertainty. But I do have a little more sympathy for the LW, since it appears he may really not have known that he wasn’t eligible for the discount they gave him.

    Still and all, there’s that old adage — if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. That right there would set me running.

  • TonyA_says

    Why do you say Avis accepted this misuse of their contracted rate with the State of Florida? I suppose there is a big *IF* there, right?

  • TonyA_says

    Looks like a case of hacking gone bad :-)

  • emanon256

    I totally forgot about this, we too got a list of all renters for reconciliation. So much easier to get a list and have a dedicated person to go through it once a month and verify everyone, than to make every single renter see an agent and provide a letter or ID or something every time they rent. In one of my contracts, it says that we will always get dropped off first and the car will be waiting right where they drop us off. They also drive us back to the airport in our rental car, rather than having us take the bus.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    You received the State of Florida employee discount without being a State of Florida employee from AVIS; therefore, you got something for free.

    To compare the Enterprise’s Costco rate for a different date period (not rental period) to the Avis’s rate that you paid in the past is somewhat irrelevant because rates (airfares, hotel, rental car) are generally based upon the ‘specific dates”, demand, etc.

    For example, rental rate for a car during the week, weekend, day, etc. of Memorial Day, Labor Day, 4th of July, Thanksgiving; Christmas; local events (conventions, sporting events, etc.); etc. are generally higher than rates for low peak periods.

  • DisqusUser

    I did book this rental a month in advance. Sure, I agree that it might not be an apples-to-apples comparison. But I hope I conveyed the idea that the rate I got was not super low.

    I think my point is that the rental company could have easily informed me that my reservation has a code and that it is subject to eligibility when I was renting (similar to enterprise – when I book through Costco, they will make me enter my Costco member number), if not the rate would be $ABC. Then I could have either canceled the rental, or agreed to rent on the modified rate.

  • The Original Joe S

    Cadillac plans? Yup, that’s EXACTLY what they are. Cadillac plans. Bought and paid for by the people who earned them.

    This is because some people PLANNED their careers toward retirement with certain goals in mind. Working for the government meant that you accepted a lower rate of pay than for comparable work in the private sector. It certainly meant that one would make much less than contractor personnel one would supervise. One would endure the stupidities of the personnel selected for political reasons to be the supervisors, and work to accomplish the missions of the jobs in spite of these pointy-headed bosses. The reward for these lessor perks [a form of forced savings] was the prospect of a defined retirement benefit, and a good health plan.

    People in the private sector, who made more money in comparison with those in the government performing comparable functions, had a choice to expend the differences in compensation into savings and investment for their futures. Since no one forced them to save, many people did not do so. Then, at then end of the career, they complained that they were not well off.
    Look at medical insurance. You have a deductible and then the benefits kick in. Consider the costs of the medical coverage to be equal to the premiums plus the deductible plus the co-pay, which gives you the total costs of your medical coverage. No matter which way you slice the onion, you will pay x amount to get y level of coverage. Similarly, with regard to retirement, what you put in normally is what you get out, unless you are double-crossed by factors you did not forsee. Much of these factors can be traced to how people selected their government in elections.

  • TonyA_says

    You know you can use the special AVIS site for the State of FL and book that same rate. The site ASSUMES you are honest and not fraudulently using the special contracted rate. Only thing you’ll need is a credit card since the rate code is hard coded already. No intelligence need in this one. Just a poor conscience, I guess.

    On a lighter note, the problem with this type of hacking is that if you get caught you’re screwed.

  • TonyA_says

    How many Florida State employees do you think rent cars?
    So you mean each time they go to Avis, they should see a rate comparison vis-a-vis the State contracted rate?
    Get real.

  • DisqusUser

    You are assuming that I intentionally abused the code. But that is not true. I did not input the code, nor did I know there existed an ineligible code. What I meant by “already done” was that I got a final receipt from the location and the transaction was done. That is why I requested them to honor the final receipt I got after closing the rental.

  • MarkKelling

    So you are saying if you don’t know what a speed limit sign looks like and you read the highway number as the speed limit instead, you shouldn’t have to pay for the speeding ticket? ;-)

  • emanon256

    As someone who just switched from working for a private company to government, and worked on many government contracts, I have to say you are quite wrong. When I worked of the private sector, I got a Cadillac insurance plan which cost me nothing, and I had no deductible. I made 40% more salary, plus I got 10% of my salary on top added to a 401K with no regards to what I contributed. Now, as a government employee, I pay about 10% of my salary towards insurance with a $6,000 deductible, I pay another 10% into a pension which isn’t doing as well as my 401K. The big trade off? I work more reasonable hours and travel less as a governemnt employee. When I consulted with multiple government agencies, the majority of employees were getting paid far less than they would be paid in the private sector. And the union benfits they get are that they pay 8% of their own pention ratehr than 12%, or they get overtime which means their weekend hours are cut, so they don’t actually get extra pay, they just work more reasonable hours. Yes, there are some government peopel who are over paid and get benefits far above the workign publick, just look at congress. There are others out there who are over paid as well, however there are very few as a whole. The majority of government employees are working because they want to help the people and they are doing so at a lower pay rate for poor benefits. If government workers were paid based on private sector pay rates as you suggest, your taxes would go up substantial to fund them. I cant’ wait to go back to the private sector and make good money and get good benefits again, but I value spending more time with my family right now and a low paying government job allows me to do so.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    There’s a joke about that, about some old folks going down Hwy 130 or something like that . . .

  • bodega3

    Love AAA for Hertz!

  • Thoroughlyamused

    It’s difficult to say. If he had gone to the Avis website and printed out his confirmation page, it would almost certainly have reflected the illegitimate corporate discount. None of that changes, however, that the OP received a discount that he shouldn’t have.

  • TonyA_says

    So essentially what you are saying is if SOMEONE ELSE entered the code for you and YOU ENJOYED the UNJUSTIFIED FRUITS of using that code then you (even as the renter who used the unscrupulous site) should be given a pass?

    Hmmm…. looks like you need to be more concerned of the sites you are using.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    ?!?!?! I call balderdash. WHAT public sector employees, in what UNIVERSE, are getting “sub-par salaries and benefits” compared to private workers doing similar work? Perhaps some public sector workers are paid a low salary, such as schoolteachers for example, but even then they generally get paid better than private sector schoolteachers and almost always have a better benefit package.

    Perhaps 50 years ago the dichtomy you mention where public sector workers took lower pay and benefits in exchange for a more stable environment was true but that was in a time when private sector workers were much better off than they are now (note that a lot of things changed 50 years ago that helped to trash wages and benefits. They are quite controversial but I won’t go into that now.)

    Finally, I’m not arguing to deprive public sector workers of something they have “earned” that I didn’t. Reminder: _I_ am the taxpayer and they are the ones taking from ME.

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    One of the things that sets us apart from other sites is that we keep the discussion civil and constructive. We aren’t afraid to criticize ideas but we don’t attack people.

    My friends, consider this a polite request to behave like the ladies and gentlemen we are. I don’t want to have to add the word “boarding,” “flyer” or “cranky” to the title of this site … it wouldn’t look good.

  • BillCCC

    You should quit while you are ahead. You used a fraudulent code and managed to weasel out of paying the full price by whining to the Travel Troubleshooter. You are one of the reasons rental companies impose ridiculous conditions on rental cars these days.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    Apples and oranges. You’re comparing one job with different benefits to another by your own admission. In addition, a lot of people who claim to go from “private” sector to “public” sector, I often find, are those who go from highly paid government _contractor_ positions to public positions and then back and forth.

    But still, your point is noted.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Duly admonished. Eating chocolate now.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    Guys, google “GOVERNMENT WORKERS COST 45% MORE THAN PRIVATE SECTOR WORKERS”.

    “For the month of December 2013, employers in private industry spent an average of $29.63 per employee hour worked, but the equivalent cost for a government worker averaged $42.89 per hour. Not only do government employees average 33% higher pay than those in the private sector, their pension and retirement benefit costs are now an incredible 254% higher”

    ’nuff said.

  • Jonathan Woodman

    There was an easy solution that would have avoided all this hassle: Avis could require renters to show a state employee ID at the time of rental, and make it clear at the time of reservation that the rate is dependent on showing that ID at pick up. Avis should not be allowed to rent the car at one rate, receive payment at the end of rental, then unilaterally charge a higher rate weeks or months after the rental.

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    Can I have some? :-)

  • emanon256

    Well, I am comparing what I got at three separate private companies, to what every one gets in my state except for elected officials and or very high level government executives. All of our salary ranges are publsihed, and we all have pay grades. Right now we are down by 10 people and can’t find anyone qualified to fell them, because the private sector pays so much more for the same positions.

    I also did contract work with several other state’s specific to financial information, so I know what government employees made in several states. Some people, very few, made obscene amounts of money, while the masses made very little. I worked with quite a few non-government clients as well, and they always were compensated far better over all.

  • TonyA_says

    After reading that he got away with it, we might as well hack our way to the cheapest corporate ID code to all hotels and rental cars and DEMAND for help from an advocate when they don’t work.

    There’s an unwritten rule in hacking. Keep quiet and be prepared to suffer the consequences.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    It would melt if I sent it to Florida at this time of year. Baker’s Candies out of Greenwood, Nebraska – oh boy! See https://www dot bakerscandies dot com/index.php?route=product/product&path=3&product_id=71 for all the flavors of their Chocalate Meltaways. LMK which flavor or if you’d prefer an assortment, and I can send you some once the weather cools down, directly from “flyover country”. :-p

  • TonyA_says

    The onus is on the renter to prove s/he is eligible. The contracts says this …
    It is required that all customers of this contract present a valid employee ID when picking up the rental vehicle.

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    Actually, Jeanne, if anyone deserves the chocolates, it’s you. You make the discussion interesting, and I consider it a privilege to have you participate.

  • bodega3

    Would you mind filling in, for those of us not familiar with the website you initially went to, how all this works. I went over to the site, and it required me to make the reservation with them. So if your booked on Travelocity, how did you get a discount without a code? This all confuses me as the first company does give you a coupon code for a discount.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Aww, shucks.

    I’m serious about the chocolate. Goes well with espresso. My husband likes the special “Scooters” flavor; maybe Baker’s Candies will make it a regular flavor.

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    Thanks. Next time we’re in flyover country with the family, we’ll bring a box by and split it.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Deal! Or, if you’re in DC in October when I’m there in October, I can look you up. Much better than meeting my so-called Representatives.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I would agree with you if this was a situation where the OP reasonably believed he was entitled to use the code. But that’s not the case. Thee LW knows that he doesn’t work for the State of Florida so this is not a case of risk, beyond the risk of getting caught. This is a question of the LW using a rate code that he knows he is not entitled to use.

  • LFH0

    Assume that the contract between the renter and Avis contained a general term prohibiting the application of Florida’s discounted rate, and assume further that the renter did not misrepresent himself as a Florida employee (something I’m not fully persuaded about since it might well be argued that the use of the discount code by the renter at the website was, itself, a misrepresentation . . . this being the “big *IF*,” I think).

    The renter made an offer to rent from Avis at Florida’s discounted rate. Avis accepted the offer by renting him a car. If Avis wanted to limit its rentals at that rate to only Florida employees, then Avis should have demanded evidence of the renter’s Florida employment before renting him the car, and absent such evidence, Avis should have turned down the offer by refusing the rental.

    If I use a discounted code for, say, a hotel room, I am certain to carry with me the necessary evidence (usually some sort of identification card) so that I can present it at check-in if asked. Usually I am not asked. I suspect that is the case with Avis as well.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Doubtful. But I’d have to spend more time than I’d want to.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    OK. I’ll bite. What is a hacker rate?

  • MarkKelling

    What types of workers went into the average?

    In the public sector, the people employed tend toward service industry, part time, minimum wage earners. Government tends toward white collar, full time, higher wage employees. Since most service industry part timers also tend to receive no benefits, it doesn’t take much to skew those numbers. The only meaningful comparison would be a breakdown by comparable jobs, not as a total lump of the workers.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    When you give such information out in a vague manner such as that, I really can’t contest it. I’ll give an example that would fit your claim, however: Pilot. Certainly, military trained pilots are perfect to transition to the private sector and get paid a lot more. In some cases, that’s the best way for them to land those positions because training is massively expensive and getting qualified flight hours would bankrupt most civilian aspiring pilots but that’s kind of the example that proves the rule: the public sector pilot got free training that a private sector worker would have to go into massive debt to obtain.

    It’s now well known both statistically (see my cite) as well as many peoples’ anecdotal experiences. I live in Northern Virginia. It’s not private sector money that’s keeping the high wages here going…

  • MarkKelling

    Yes, the military pilot got training at our expense that was required to be a military pilot. But if pay and benefits are so good, why are military pilots (even those not flying combat missions but only support and supply missions) in such a hurry to get out and become private sector pilots? Yes, you see many stories about commercial airline pilots making barely minimum wage, but those are pilots who were not in the military and got to be pilots on their own. The former military pilots are quickly snapped up by the major airlines at decent pay.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    Indeed…. let’s compare a DMV or postal worker clerk to someone who works at a book store. Both have similar skill sets but the private sector will tend to offer the position as part-time. The government workers, including the “service level jobs”, will get a better benefits and pay package.

    It helps that the government workers have a union in an industry that can’t go bankrupt (like, say, the Hostess Twinkie manufacturers) or even Government Motors, er, GM.

    Government workers have been better compensated than in the private sector now for the past 50 years. It’s now even a bit of a joke around the country.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    I thought I had explained that. The military pilot got a “benefit package” in the form of a free education and that’s why they went onto civilian work later.

    Another example are interns who work for free for congressmen or senators and have rich parents who bankroll their Georgetown apartments. These are “grooming” positions for them to later work as lobbyists in the same city and get paid 6 or even 7 figure salaries to take out their former bosses for lunch and get preferential regulations for their private sector companies. Could it be argued that those interns were “exploited” by their government job. Sure. But they got a valuable asset (special connections) that an ordinary private sector worker would not be able to obtain and hence the high cost of entry (a parent to sacrifice and pay for the intern to work for free for that period of time.)

  • TonyA_says

    I would not call it a hacker rate, per se.
    This is a simple case of coupon abuse (or fraud).
    Either the user or someone on behalf of the user uses a discount or corporate code that they are not entitled to or misuses the coupon.
    The rate or fare is legit BUT it is intended only for a selected group of people which the user is not part of (therefore ineligible).
    But since the way to get the rate to appear the system is to enter a special code, then all the hacker needs is the code.
    It is like saying someone has the code to your front door so he is legitimately inside your house and can eat all your food :-)

    That said, there is something really strange with the LW’s case.
    He says he *searched* for the rental car deal using Autoslash.
    However it is known (through online articles) that Autoslash cannot book the AVIS company of cars. In fact if you really follow their use of Travelocity’s (affiliate) booking engine you will see how limited their rental car search goes. (See attached pic.)

    You can try searching Autoslash yourself and see if you can force it to show Avis cars. It won’t.
    You need to ask yourself this question – why will Autoslash send you to a reservation site where it cannot make money?
    It seems that Autoslash cannot book Avis cars and make commission so that is where the inconsistency of the LW’s story is.

    This leads me to believe the renter entered the special rate code himself using Travelocity’s CONSUMER site (not the affiliate site).
    How the user got the code is quite easy. You can find FL State Employees code easily in the internet.

  • naoma

    Carver: The word is “conscience.” AND THE MAN LIED. Elliott should
    show no respect nor use for a person who lies. And, he should NOT
    mediate.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    The full NYT article that @LeeAnneClark:disqus referenced in one of her posts stated (in 2012) that bookings for AutoSlash are made through Travelocity, and that’s how they get a commission, through a deal between those parties.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    You’re right. I shouldn’t type at 3am.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    @carverclarkfarrow:disqus has been very reserved in expressing an opinion of the OP’s veracity, since none of us knows one way or the other. The OP has posted on here that he was unaware of the back-door dealings of AutoSlash that generated such a handsome discount for him.

    @elliottc:disqus asked us, in a post about an hour ago, to discuss the topic and not the person who is the subject of the topic. I would add that, given all the different means by which one can post to this forum, misspellings or incorrect grammatical constructions should be forgiven. Autocorrect does make cowards fools of us all.

  • TonyA_says

    Travelocity (and other OTAs) have AFFILIATES that can book through them. If you search using autoslash’s site, you will eventually end up in travelocity using autoslash’s affiliate id 10026626. You will see your search will be limited to a few rental companies like Advantage and Payless but not AVIS.
    AFFILIATES get a cut of Travelocity’s commission. But in Autoslash’s case AVIS does not want to deal with them (according to the NYT article). So that begs the question, how did the OP get to display AVIS via autoslash. I think someone is not telling the whole truth here.

    Try iy Jeanne. Go to autoslash and see if you can see AVIS to come out in their search.

  • TonyA_says

    His story is full of holes. Sometime is definitely missing.

  • $16635417

    That’s interesting. Does this mean if I am not asked for it, but forget to show my AAA card or employee ID to to get my contracted rate…can the car company come back after me like they did in this case? (I”m speaking of rates that I am truly entitled to, not like in this story.)

    Is simply forgetting to show the ID grounds for a rate adjustment? BTW…I’ve never been asked for any association ID when renting a car, but I DO carry them. My company contracts allow for personal use as well.

  • Fishplate

    No, I am not. But you know that.

  • TonyA_says

    What is the chance of your transaction being audited if you book direct using a valid code? Probably close to zero.
    I think there is something else to this story. Probably Avis is looking closely at the activities of Autoslash (IMO). I guess this was the reason why the LW’s case was flagged for audit.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Agreed!

  • $16635417

    I tried them for an upcoming car rental and did not see them offer Avis. (Nor Hertz, National, Alamo or Budget) I only saw Advantage and Payless…which were priced higher than my current rental with legit association codes.

  • emanon256

    Sorry, but where in the US is this even close to true:

    Perhaps some public sector workers are paid a low salary, such as schoolteachers for example, but even then they generally get paid better than private sector schoolteachers and almost always have a better benefit package.

    And yes, you may be a tax payer, but so are public sector workers. I would hardly say these workers are taking from you. The government may be taking from you, but the workers aren’t, so it is quite inappropriate to blame them. I pulled quite a few numbers and found that most government jobs have higher starting salaries, as they don’t hire entry lever or minimum wage workers. However government workers also dont’ need public assistance like private sector workers making minimum wage, so if you want to know where your tax money is going, look at place like Walmart that get tax subsidies, tax increment financing, and then have their employees apply for public assistance so they can pay them less. That is where your tax money is going. Its also going to politicians and their cronies and their private corporation buddies they star business or tax breaks to. No school teacher is taking money form you and living it up with their Cadillac insurance.

  • emanon256

    So rich parents are now a government benefit? Sign me up!

    Sorry, you have totally lost me, I am not sure what propaganda you are reading, but its not in line with reality. If you are so envious of government employees, why don’t you just get a job for the government?

  • emanon256

    Those figures include the largest employer in the country as private sector jobs, Walmart. And with Walmarts average salary begin just above minimum wage, they will drastically scew any comparison done. In almost every case, same job with same experience compared, private industry pays better.

  • Sometime_flier

    Right. So I don’t understand this portion of your first comment: If the site you used to book shows no indication that the account
    belonged to a different company, then I think that’s an honest mistake.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Christopher, this has proven to be a VERY interesting and illuminating case, mainly because of what I’ve learned through the discussion!

    I do agree that some have been unnecessarily judgmental towards the LW, but I think this could have been avoided had you made it clearer in the article that the LW had NO IDEA that he’d received his discount through a code for which he wasn’t eligible. I don’t think that would have changed too many minds about whether or not he should have been able to keep his discount, but it might have prevented people from assuming he knowingly used a code he wasn’t entitled to, which we all would interpret as fraud.

    As it is, it seems now more a case of simply not doing his homework enough to realize that Autoslash has a reputation for doing this, and using them is a risky proposition.

    Beyond that, though, the one question I still have is…what exactly was it that prompted this line in your story:

    “Iyer says I *have* to get involved. After all, didn’t I help another car rental customer under similar circumstances recently?”

    When we asked him directly, he replied that he never demanded that you help him, and expressed only appreciation for the help that you did provide. So I just gotta know…DID he behave like an overly-entitled special snowflake demanding your (free) services? Because if so, that immediately reduces any empathy I might have for his situation.

    But if he didn’t, you should be aware the way you wrote the article definitely came off to many of us as if he did.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    Yes, the public sector workers also pay taxes but that doesn’t change the fact that non-public sector workers are paying the salaries of public sector workers. If you don’t like walmart, you have the option to shop somewhere. else. More on that in a minute.

    Regarding the elitist notion that private sector workers are less educated, how about some stats to prove that claim? Government workers tend to be more unionized, blue and white collar, and this allows them to negotiate for more pay in addition to campaign contributions encouraging politicians of both parties to not want to lay off government workers. Layoff rates for public sector workers in both white and blue collar fields tends to be higher. That being said…

    As promised, I will address the notion of choice. If unionization would raise wages and working conditions across the board I’d say heck, put EVERYONE in a union except that with government unions, they have little risk of default while private industries can and do go bankrupt. At least as long as the fed can print up unlimited money.

  • Sometime_flier

    Must have been Henry’s. (I had my own problem with them years ago and got screwed.)

  • y_p_w

    There’s nothing wrong about booking rentals through 3rd parties. I’ve done so many times. However, I’ve always started off fresh from that website by keying in the dates directly.

    For instance, I have an aversion to any opaque booking for a car rental. I still check Priceline. It gives me a good idea of what the going rates might be, along with some “iPhone specials” for their iPhone app. I’ll then check the direct rate after I get a good idea what the going rate is. Occasionally I’ve found cheaper rates directly such as Dollar’s “City Specials”, but PL gave me the overview. And in some cases, PL had the absolute lowest price that I was willing to book (I stay away from Advantage, Payless, EZ).

    The important thing to booking directly on a 3rd party is that their rates are always available publicly, so there’s no trap of maybe getting into a special code where the renter might not be eligible.

  • TonyA_says

    I have no chocolates for you but I figured out how the hack worked.
    Because I cannot upload a document here, I will just present you and your readers with a link to a pdf document that explains the trick.

    Link: bit dot ly/1znOm2D

    Autoslash makes it very clear to users that it will use coupon codes AFTER you book to lower your rate. The OP cannot deny this fact.
    Given the numerous not so glamorous write-ups about this company, he should have known that there was a possibility that the coupon used could be for a rate he might not be eligible for.

    Actually you just don’t follow a link as the OP says.
    You will need to search for a coupon first then book a rental car using that coupon. If you know the hacked code then you can apply it before booking. If you don’t know the hacked code, you “hope” autoslash uses it to lower your rate AFTER you book.

    Happy reading.

  • TonyA_says

    How the hack works: bit dot ly/1znOm2D

  • TonyA_says

    Read how the hack works: bit dot ly/1znOm2D

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I read your document through and it’s a brilliant piece of researching, although I’m still confused. Where did the State of Florida coupon code come from? The OP maintains in his statements on this thread that he made his booking through a 3rd party site (but he doesn’t say if it was AutoSlash or Travelocity). So, he booked on AutoSlash but got a confirmation from Travelocity? Funny – you can’t get Avis to show up on the list of rental car places from the initial search page, unless you start clicking on coupons and only then from there, just like in your document. I didn’t actually book the car following the steps you outlined to see if the confirmation comes from Travelocity or from AutoSlash. But since they’re partners (according to that NYT article), it makes sense that AutoSlash pre-fills fields on Travelocity and Travelocity finishes the transaction.

    Is it possible, just possible, that he did everything on AutoSlash and not on Travelocity itself? And AutoSlash applied the bogus AWD in the background?

  • TonyA_says

    1. Where did the State of Florida coupon code come from?
    You can find it all over the coupon hack sites. You can assume autoslash also knows it since he is active in Flyertalk.

    2. So, he booked on AutoSlash but got a confirmation from Travelocity?

    YES. When you book with Autoslash, they are booking it as an AFFILIATE (sub agent of some sort) of Travelocity.

    3. You can’t get Avis to show up on the list of rental car places from the initial search page, unless you start clicking on coupons and only then from there, just like in your document.

    EXACTLY. So this debunks the the LW’s claim that he just found a link to click.
    The only way to get AVIS to show in a search is if you look for a coupon first. It is not as simple as it sounds.

    4.) Is it possible, just possible, that he did everything on AutoSlash and not on Travelocity itself? And AutoSlash applied the bogus AWD in the background?
    PRECISELY. The OP needed to search using Autoslash (via a coupon search portal) to get this rate. He cannot find this rate if he simply searched it on Travelocity.
    If he did not put State of Florida’s AWD code, then it is possible that Autoslash did it for him later as part of the search service.
    But you need to ask this question – would you simply book without knowing the FINAL rate??? You mean he trusted Autoslash with a higher rate hoping they would lower it at some point???
    Notice he is silent about that.

    The point I am trying to make is that I do not believe the OP is some saint or victim. How the heck do you find autoslash in the first place? Most people learn about it from Flyertalk or the Milepoint blogs. And granted that maybe he read the NYT article 2 years ago in 2012 but anyone who read that has notice about the kind of site Autoslash is (dodgy according to Avis). To put it bluntly, if you offer a coupon using rate reduction service, then you are offering some kind of hacking service. This one just was one case where the hack went bad.

    Better hacking next time :-)

  • Alan Gore

    I’m one one of these myself, though I haven’t used it for a long time. You have to either include your favorite discount code in the club-member profile you maintain on the site, or enter a one-time discount code when making the reservation. In either case, there is plenty of time for the company to check validity before the actual rental takes place.

  • bodega3

    That is why I asked him how he booked this…exactly. I did a phony booking on Autoslash and had many different coupon options. I then went to Travelocity and made two phony reservations and never was given the option for a coupon use. I also picked different airport and never in those three were the major car companies on the Autoslash screen with just the basic request with airport, date and time of rental. So he had to use a coupon from Autoslash. With all this, why would Avis reverse their first stand?

  • LeeAnneClark

    VERY interesting interpretation! I would love to learn the truth here. On the one hand, we’ve got this LW, who posts actually quite respectfully in here for having been subjected to quite so much snark and accusations of shady behavior. His story seems to be he simply “clicked a link” and booked the car, and AutoSlash *subsequently* entered the coupon code, without his knowledge.

    This is not hard to believe. Just going by what I’ve read about AutoSlash, you book your car and basically HOPE they will get you a discount…so yeah,it’s really not completely unreasonable to believe that he did, in fact, book without knowing the final rate, and did, in fact, trust AutoSlash with a higher rate, hoping for a discount later. They seem to claim that they do that, with an 85% success rate, and if they didn’t come up with a discount he could always cancel. So…yeah, this is possible. If he was an unsophisticated shopper for travel discounts, didn’t bother to do any homework on the site, blindly trusted them when he booked his rental, and never went to the AVIS site to check his booking (where he would have seen that the discount was for Florida employees), then yeah. This all could have happened.

    (That’s a lot of assumptions, but IMO not out of the realm of possibility.)

    On the other hand, from what you’re saying here, he couldn’t possibly have known about AutoSlash unless he was, in fact, a sophisticated travel bargain shopper with enough knowledge to realize that AutoSlash is a shady operator and any discount you get from them could be at risk. And that he couldn’t have received that discount unless he pretty much knew the ropes.

    So which is it?

    I’m still stuck back on the “you HAVE to take my case!” thing! If he was really that way with Christopher, then I have no sympathy for him because that would mean he’s got an entitled attitude anyway, so I wouldn’t put anything past him.

    But if Christopher exaggerated his level of insistence, then maybe what he’s saying really is all true!

    Oh the mystery. SO intriguing. ;-)

  • TonyA_says

    I am able to use FL Avis code in Travelocity (directly).
    I really find it hard to believe this OP completely.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    The renter made an offer to rent from Avis at Florida’s discounted rate. Avis accepted the offer by renting him a car.

    That’s only part of it. Avis’ acceptance of the offer was contingent upon the OP meeting the requirements of the rate code used, i.e. a counter-offer that the renter was so qualified and that if not the rate would be readjusted. The LW accepted the counter-offer.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I’ve been asked exactly once for my AAA card. That was at the Westin Pasadena in late 2000’s. I didn’t have it. I had never been asked for it so I just kept it in my glove compartment in my car.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    No. It’s a simple breach of contract case. There is no legal theft involved, although ethically it is stealing. California law is very skeptical about applying fraud given the incredible legal, financial, and reputational downside.

  • Freehiker

    Agreed that there is no evidence that he knew prior to renting.

    However, it doesn’t matter because now he DOES know. He shouldn’t be bitching for a discount that he is NOT eligible for. By continuing to ask for it when he isn’t deserving of it makes him look like a scumbag.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    One would think so, but having too much volume can also hurt. A Marriott GM explained this to me. If his hotel has 100 rooms and he expects to sell 80 on average, he’s happy to sell the remaining 20 rooms very cheaply because it’s better than being empty. That’s why Priceline exists.

    But if the company wants 40 rooms per night, he wont’ sell 40 rooms that cheaply because its cuts into the 80 rooms that he was selling at a premium.

    He explained that’s why hotel discount codes tend to stop working as the hotel fills up. I assume car rentals work similarly.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    There are many ways to make a corporate reservation. Using your contract administrator is merely one. Some reasons you may need to book differently

    1. Outside of business hours
    2. Speed
    3. You don’t work for the company, but you are still eligible to use the rate, e.g. contractors, job interviewees, other business associates, etc.

  • bodega3

    Where is the code input? In two times trying, no where did I get a prompt for any discount codes.

  • TonyA_says

    So you don’t read the notices in autoslash.
    How can you miss it?

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Remember, not every company is a big mega corporation. I have a discount code for Budget Rental Car as well as Starwood hotels. I don’t give my employees ID cards or travel authorizations. I give them the code and they book what’s needed.

  • TonyA_says

    Click the show options + mark.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Did he book with Autoslash or Travelocity. If he booked directly with Travelocity there is no way that a rogue discount code inadvertently

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I’d like to see his travelocity confirmation

  • TonyA_says

    There is no way he could have made that offer without using the code in the first place :-)

  • LFH0

    I think the parties agreed that the renter made an offer, and when Avis accepted the offer by saying “yes sir” and handing over the keys to the automobile, a contract was formed at that point in time. I’m not so sure that there was a counter-offer by Avis (if so, when was the counter-offer made?). If anything, I think it is more likely either a misrepresentation by the renter or mutual mistake.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Public sector attorney make far less than their private sector counterparts as a general rule. I suspect the same is true of doctors.

  • LFH0

    Consider a merchant who says, “I sell these widgets for $10, but for people who live in Gotham City I will sell these widgets for $5.” A person walks up to the merchant–a non-resident of Gotham City–and says, I offer you $5 for a widget. Merchant accepts the offer, takes the $5, and gives the buyer a widget. Can the merchant come back later, and demand an additional $5 because the buyer is a not a resident of Gotham City?

  • TonyA_says

    But that is NOT what happened here. Since when do you really make an offer to Avis? Avis publishes it’s rates and you search for the one you want. That’s it. So in order to find Avis’ rate for the State of Florida, you (or your sidekick Tonto) must enter the code or you go to State of Florida’s AVIS portal itself.

    When you pick up the car you don’t renegotiate, do you?
    I hope you don’t think failure of the rental employee to check your State ID means the company agrees to your hacking their rates.
    You simply are just getting away with it :-)

  • TonyA_says

    -dup-

  • PolishKnightUSA

    Hahaha! A topic I have intimate second hand knowledge of (I dated an attorney for a number of years.) She laughed in that attorneys out of law school generally are about as well fed as those zombies about a year after the apocalypse. Certainly, in theory, attorneys with a thriving practice make a lot of money (especially if they get one of those doctors for a medical accident…) but the vast majority of them that try to work as regular corporate attorneys are probably better off working as a secretary. There’s a fun web page I found: temporaryattorney.blogspot dot com.

    Having drunk a lot with her friends (and my attorney for a brief time), he laughed in that prosecutors are the LAZIEST of them all. They get cases handed to them by the police wrapped up in a bow with unlimited lab expenses and discovery resources. Of course, criminal law is not the only work for attorneys in private or public sector but the point is that a degree by itself does not mean automatic high salaries in EITHER sector. How many university graduates with a degree in English literature would be happy to get a job as a government copywriter compared to hoping to strike it big writing the next Harry Potter novel?

  • TonyA_says

    So one day an innocent man stumbles into a coupon hacking car rental service and actually hopes they find a coupon that works :)
    Problem is all the people I know will smell the odor of the site as soon as they see it. So why didn’t the LW? I think it was because greed was stronger than fear.
    I have one simple rule – if you hack or use a hacking site, don’t come to Chris Elliott to complain if the hack don’t work. Find a better hack that works :-)

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I get it all the time, but I think I stay at less high-falutin’ places than you do. :)

  • TonyA_says

    Bodega I cannot figure out these 2 sentences:
    1.) After all, a representative told him his codes looked fine when he picked up the car.
    2.) One of your representatives told me that this rate would be honored for this rental since it was already done, so I kindly request you to honor her word.

    It seems like the LW knew something was fishy when he picked up the car.

  • PsyGuy

    You’re right it may not, but why not try that avenue first? Even if Avis does have a letter it’s not applicable to a bank card dispute, the consumer has a receipt showing they authorized $X, if Avis wants to pursue any contractual obligation they need to go to court.

    I agree about the collection agency, just keep disputing it and after the second time if they haven’t pursued a judgement take them to small claims court. I handle collection agencies very easily, I always start the conversation with “Be advised this call is being recorded”.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    Since the OP is from New Jersey and you need to supply a driver license and the rental could have been outside of the state of Florida, these items probably flagged the rental.

  • LFH0

    As a general rule, an advertisement itself is not an offer. When a consumer says, “I would like to buy these goods or services,” that, typically, is the offer. The merchant agreeing to sell the goods or services, is the acceptance. And even if the consumer offers to buy goods or services at an amount less than the merchant typically accepts, if the merchant does in fact accept the reduced-price offer, it is a contract. I think the question here concerns the terms of the contract. Did the renter engage in misrepresentation? Was there was a mutual mistake?

  • The Original Joe S

    Try re-reading what I wrote.

  • The Original Joe S

    Couldn’t pass the PACE, hah?

  • bodega3

    Yes, it is like he questioned the legitimacy of the discount, so he had to know he didn’t qualify for it but wanted to see what they would say. Very strange. I still don’t get why Avis reversed the case. Could it be due to the counter agent saying it was ok? I had an insurance issue where an agent, over the phone said something was covered, but it wasn’t, but since they record the call, they backed up the call with a check to me to cover my bill.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    :p

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    lol

    I can’t speak for your attorney friend, but that’s not exactly how attorneys are compensated. Without getting into the nitty gritty, let’s just say that attorneys in the private sector generally make waaaay more than attorneys in the public sector.

    I remember as a second year attorney, I was shocked to discover that the judge that I was appearing before and I made comparable salaries.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    A quick google search shows advocacy sites masquerading as news, at least on the first page. Not exactly the best references.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I’ll give you one in my sector. Judges. Judges make far less than the private sector attorneys that appear before them. However, once the judge gets his reputation, he jumps ship and joins a private sector arbitration and mediation firm, and makes a crapload more money.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    They certainly flew…in droves. I agree with both you and Thoroughly…

  • S363

    What I’d like to know is this: How can any entity, for any reason, legally charge a consumer’s credit card without that consumer’s authorization? Isn’t this fraud on its face? If Avis wants to charge him more money retroactively, shouldn’t they have to come after him, and if required to, justify their charge in court?

  • LeeAnneClark

    Yeah, I can’t say I disagree with you. Like I said, one has to make an awful lot of assumptions of innocence and naivete to believe his story. Still, I just don’t find myself completely convinced yet. This is one mystery we may never know.

    However, I still say that if Christopher would give us the real truth on just how demanding the LW was, that would answer it for me! ;-)

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    I can do that. We were corresponding about this case, I was asking questions, he was answering them, and then he sent me a link to the other case. To me, in the context of the conversation, the implication was clear: You took that case — you have to take this one, too.

    On an unrelated note, this post seems to be getting a little attention from the black-hat travel hacking community this morning. Their comments are not welcome here.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Hmmm…and the plot thickens! :) Maybe he meant it that way…maybe he didn’t. His postings on this thread certainly seemed respectful, so…who knows.

    Well, one good thing that came out of all this…many of us who’d never heard of AutoSlash have now learned to avoid it like the plague, or we too could be given a discount code to which we are not entitled.

    EDA: And I have no idea what “black-hat travel hacking community” means, but I’m gonna go look at the rest of the comments to find out! Sounds fun! ;)

  • TonyA_says

    What advertisement are you talking about? There was none from Avis.

    John Baker already published the T&Cs of Avis with regards to using codes.
    The LW and his agents misrepresented the renter as one who is authorized to use the State of Florida code.
    That is plain and simple to me.

    What you are implying is the LW or his agents picked up the code from the internet and asked someone empowered by Avis to bless their use of the code despite them not being a FL State employee.

    Others are implying that unless Avis checks for mistakes before the car is taken then they acquiesce with misrepresentation.

    I disagree with both.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    +1

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Are you blocking the comments or am I just missing them among the other 300+ comments? Need some light, lunchtime reading.

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    No, but I’m monitoring the comments carefully today. This is coming from an obscure loyalty program blogger who likes to write posts that either attack me personally or invite the commenters to attack me. Nothing I can’t handle, and so far, I’ve only received a dozen or so page views from the blog, so it’s hardly worth mentioning.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Love a good mystery. Hmmm. Of course, I’ve got work I’ve got to do today, too. :)

  • DisqusUser

    @elliottc:disqus , I never meant it that way. My sincere apologies to you if it sounded that way. All I wanted to ask was if there is a chance that we could see this as retroactive re-billing since the other case mentioned it – nothing more. The reason for the email was because I was going to send out the corporate complaint and just wanted to make sure I don’t leave any details. You have my permission to share our emails (without my actual email address for privacy reasons) if folks want to take a look.

    I really appreciate you helping folks without expecting anything in return. Please accept my apologies again. @Jeanne_in_NE:disqus , @LeeAnneClark:disqus and others who gave me a benefit of doubt, my heartfelt thank you.

    I’m really heartbroken by the personal attacks and hatred, but I do understand that anyone is free to come to a conclusion they like. I didn’t respond to any comments in the interest of the community to not attract attention and since the case was resolved.

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    Maybe I was just being too sensitive. I believe you meant it in that way.

    I’m also distraught by the personal attacks. I’ve spoken up against them and we’ve dealt with a few flagged comments. This is not the kind of community we are, and I’m sorry that we didn’t live up to our standards.

  • LFH0

    An advertisement is what may induce a person to do business with another. For example, a newspaper or website. Maybe there was no advertisement, and the renter simply went to Avis directly because he knew about the company. Whatever the cause, the renter made an offer to Avis, which was later accepted, thereby forming a contract.

    What I see to be the issue is whether or not in making the contract the renter misrepresented himself, or if there was a mutual mistake. If the renter did not misrepresent himself (and as stated before, this is the “big *IF*”), and Avis nonetheless rented him an automobile at the agreed-upon rate–knowing that he was not a Florida employee–then it is the fault of Avis for having agreed to rent at the agreed-upon a discounted rate.

    Where I think there may be confusion is the question of when possible misrepresentation is discovered. It doesn’t matter when it is discovered (at least within the statute of limitations), and certainly Avis can go after the renter after the completion of the rental car if he misrepresented himself. But everything I’ve posited is based on the assumption that there was no misrepresentation. That is, Avis knew the facts, and nonetheless chose to perform under the contract. Under those conditions, Avis has no recourse.

  • TonyA_says

    Mutual Mistake – definitely not.
    Advertisement – definitely not in the same breath as above.

    AVIS never advertised its FL State rates to the public.
    AVIS did not seek the LW.
    Autoslash is NOT an registered agent nor seller of AVIS, is it?
    AVIS did not make a mistake of quoting the LW.
    It was Autoslash that quote the price to the LW.
    Autoslash’s system caused the improper use of Avis’ State of FL Contract Code Rate IF the LW used autoslash.
    No matter what you say, the LW and his agent Autoslash should never have booked a State of FL rate and never should have used the FL State AWD code.
    This is a simple and shut case.
    They misused a contract code and contract rate they were never entitled to.
    Why are you making it so complicated?
    Do you use codes that are not for you to use?

  • LFH0

    If using the specified code constitutes a knowing misrepresentation, then Avis may have a valid claim. Did the renter know (or should have known) that by using the specified code that he was representing himself as a Florida employee? I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe not. I have sometimes found discount codes disclosed online. Do I know whether they are intended for me or that by using such a code I am making a certain representation? Sometimes, but not always.

  • TonyA_says

    His agent surely does. It has a history of doing so says the NYT article. Any travel agency (or similar outfit) should know if they are doing right or wrong. You cannot use a GDS or a portal for a wholesaler using a GDS to do this unless you have some kind of industry certification.

    He should have known what he was getting into by choosing autoslash.

  • LFH0

    I thought the renter was acting for himself, and had not engaged an agent to book for him. And, of course, a principal would be liable for the actions of his agent acting on his behalf. As to “autoslash,” I have no familiarity with it, and I have no clue as to whether or not a reasonable person would know that “autoslash” invites misrepresentation.

  • TonyA_says

    He went to autoslash website to search and book a rental car.
    He gave his credit card to autoslash.
    Autoslash booked him a car using Travelocity system.

    Autoslash has to represent its customers because it claims it will find better deals and rebook them.

  • LFH0

    If those are the facts, and autoslash did make a misrepresentation of the renter to Avis, then the renter may be liable to Avis (under general principles of agency), but the renter could then seek indemnification from autoslash. But in the end, it all comes down to questions of misrepresentation.

  • emanon256

    The rental contract states that the customer authorizes them to charge the card on file after the fact if there was an error, invalid code, fraud, damage, the list goes on. Its no different than a direct deposit authorization that says they can reverse funds if you were deposited funds in error, or if you owe money to whomever you signed the agreement with. Its actually pretty standard in the financial service industry to have companies put these clauses in all financial agreements.

  • TonyA_says

    If you read the LW’s story, that is what he is saying.
    He did not enter any code.
    But there is now way to get FL State Rate (which he got by the way) without someone entering the correct code.
    If he did not enter the code, then only one other party can – his agent autoslash.

  • LFH0

    It sounds like autoslash may be the culprit for misrepresenting the renter’s employment status, and if so, Avis might well go after the renter. But then the renter ought to be able to seek indemnification from autoslash.

  • TonyA_says

    Avis let this one go after the LW wrote (escalated) CE’s contact.
    But the moral of this story is IF YOU USE A HACKING SITE, then be man enough to ride the storm.

  • Marcin Jeske

    I think saying that starting an adversarial process that involves up to three additional entities (the credit card, a court, and likely a collections agency) and could drag on for months or years… is an easier solution than “amicably” settling the matter with Avis via the mediation of an ombudsmen… is an unusual way of looking at things.

    Before going to a credit card dispute, and the legal processes that are likely to follow… I would encourage anyone to pursue any possible resolution directly with the company. Despite being frustrating, as long as the company is willing to talk to you… resolving the dispute with them will be much faster and less involved.

    Please leave credit card disputes to those cases where all possible appeals to the company have been exhausted.

  • Marcin Jeske

    I haven’t rented from Avis in quite a while, but rent from several other car rental agencies that use discount codes…

    These codes typically take the form of short sequences of letters and numbers you enter into a field when making a reservation… stuff like WDS2354 and FRDM41 and FLSG231. There is usually no way to tell that the code represents some sort of requirements unless you also have access to the terms of the agreement.

    These codes are often passed around by email, posted on websites, and used by automated booking engines. Sometimes there are notes as to qualification requirements (must be a resident of… , employee of…, member of …, but often times this information is vague or missing.

    When you actually make the reservation, some rental agencies do display the “human name” of the code (“Florida Department of Management Services Employees”) but this is often not highlighted. If you dig into the terms and conditions (because *everyone* *always* reads those carefully) you will usually see a section defining the terms of the offer code.

    In short, you can easily believe you have found a code to give you some savings while being unaware that the code has additional requirements. I believe the letter writer that they were unaware of the terms of the code… particularly given that there are so many codes out there… he could have easily found codes that he could more easily game were that his intention.

    I don’t believe that Avis is giving that particular Florida department a giant discount… it is probably along the same lines as thousands of other offer codes which the rental companies primarily use to track referrals and how much business different organizations are sending them. Increasing the rate on a customer after he no longer has recourse to find a different discount or rent with a competitor is abusive… particularly so because the rental agencies don’t make any significant effort at the time of reservation to ensure the terms are being met.

  • Marcin Jeske

    What’s not to understand… if during the booking process there is no verification that you can use the code (such as asking you whether are an employee), how can you possibly know you are not authorized to use the code?

  • Sometime_flier

    I was asking about his “different company” remark.

  • Marcin Jeske

    I think that costcotravel.com works in roughly the same way… you tell them when and where… and they try a number of combinations of discount codes with all their partner rental agencies until they find the lowest price for you.

    Although I would trust Costco to use legitimate codes much more than this Autoslash I have never heard of, with the Costco rentals, you also don’t quite know the codes that are being used unless you look at the fine print.

    These codes are not easy to decipher, nor is it always obvious what the terms are.

  • Marcin Jeske

    *I* would prefer rental agencies asked for proof at the time of reservation, or at least prominently disclosed what proof you needed with you at the rental counter.

  • Marcin Jeske

    At hotels in general, I have rarely been asked to show my AAA card when checking in on AAA rates. Sometimes I show it anyway. The clerk usually does not care.

    The truth is that for many hotels, the AAA discount is in the same range as a number of other discounts… and the hotel is glad to have the business. I have found that calling a hotel (knowing their AAA rate) and asking if they would offer a discount (not mentioning AAA) they usually quote the same rate as AAA.

    While having a AAA card and booking a AAA rate makes everything go more smoothly, let’s not kid ourselves that the AAA discount is some super secret rate not accessible to anyone else.

  • Marcin Jeske

    “The customer is always right.” ?

    There is the complication that rental cars are not a returnable commodity. If I agree to a price on a car, and the dealership calls me a few days later to let me know they made a mistake in the price, there is the possibility of my returning the car. You cannot undo a rental.

    So I would say that once you pick up the car is the point of no return (you can’t unpick the car or choose a competitor). From that point, the rates (daily, weekly, etc) as defined on the contract should be binding unless there is a future change by mutual agreement of the renter and the agency (for extending a rental).

    Increasing the rates on services already rendered is a low blow… much better to address the discrepancy at the time of reservation… or if you must, at time of rental. However, if the agency waits until the time of rental, when it is harder for the renter to make other arrangements, I would suggest any responsible agency would make efforts to work with a customer lacking appropriate documents (we all forget our AAA cards sometimes), either finding a similar rate that works, overlooking the lapse and honoring the rate, or setting a higher rate with the understanding that once the renter sends the needed documents, the original rate will be reinstated.

  • Marcin Jeske

    Really, prominent notice of required qualifications should be made at time of reservation… and for frequent renters, they have an extensive profile on you that could easily include affiliations (AAA, business, airline, etc.).

    Doing the first verification at the last possible moment at the counter is a poor choice, as you are possibly ambushing customers who did not know about the requirements or who just forgot their proof… and are faced with a higher rate which they have little choice but to accept unless they have the time to try other agencies (and same-day rental rates tend to skyrocket).

  • Marcin Jeske

    Sorry to break it to you… but your contract isn’t all that special. Hertz (which is my guess for your examples above) and other agencies offer those same types of terms in various combinations to all kinds of organizations and individuals.

    Getting dropped of first at your car is a feature of several frequent renter programs (although only at certain locations) and direct drop-off at the terminal is also extended to many members.

    The monthly reconciliation is great for organizations tracking their usage, but is terrible for avoiding mistakes or abuse because it is a post-facto check.

    At any place of business, security might review entry logs and surveillance tape regularly (after the fact)… but I doubt the guard or secretary at the door just lets everyone through.

  • emanon256

    The problem with this is that there are hundreds of thousands of individual corporate contracts. When adding any of them, it does state that the rental must be eligible for it and asks for proof to be ready. It also states its subject to audit and the rate can change if the renter is found to not be eligible.

    The rental car company can build interfaces with DMVs, AAA, Major Airlines, Credit Bureaus, Credit card merchant processors, etc. But building interfaces to very small companies for every possible code is not realistic for the rental car company, or the business. These are private codes, and sometimes someone leaks them, if someone uses a code they shouldn’t be using, they should be responsible for it.

    I setup a contract with Avis once for 5 people to get a guaranteed car every week, for the week, at a specific airport for a specific rate, and it included all insurance. We didn’t have the same people each week. We got a monthly list or rentals from Avis, and it was always our people. A few times we had new people who forgot the code and were charged more, Avis always retroactively reduced the rate after the fact, just like they could increase it if someone used our code who wasn’t entitled to use it. If Avis wanted every person to get pre verified, I would have gone elsewhere, the code is good enough.

  • emanon256

    I never said it was special. And the monthly reconciliation after the fact is great as it keeps my people from having to jump through hops, and still catches people who cheat like the OP.

  • Marcin Jeske

    The built-in assumption is that the customer is aware of the false pretenses. Most of the time, renters see codes somewhere online, try them out, and at no time in the rental process do they see any obvious indication there are strings attached.

    I say “obvious indication” because rules are often buried in terms.

    By creating this system of “discount codes” which are numerous, lazily enforced, and poorly documented, the rental companies have created this mess that they need to accept cleaning up.

    If a supermarket had different cash registers which would give different discounts, but the labels didn’t really specify the rules… would you fault customers for trying to find the best discount? Would you say they were shopping under false pretenses?

  • Marcin Jeske

    I believe fraud requires awareness and intent…. you cannot unknowingly or accidentally defraud someone.

    Assuming he is telling the truth about not knowing the requirement to be an employee, and especially given that in all the interactions he had until the point of returning the car no one (or no machine) challenged him on it… there is no fraud, just a poorly policed system of customer discounts.

    Likely, he could have found a similar discount with a public code.

  • Marcin Jeske

    I am sorry to hear that asking “hey, do you work for the Florida Department of Management Services?” is tedious and not even possible.

    Anyone traveling on business is likely to have a business card, a letter, or anything showing affiliation with the company. I mean, we don’t have to go immediately from no verification *at all* to polygraphs and strip-searches. I think adding a simple question “do you work for…” during the reservation process would eliminate 80% of the problem where people are not aware of requirements.

    Please remember, the guy did pay more than $600 for the rental, which while a great deal… is hardly equivalent to cashing fake checks or shoplifting (both comparisons I have seen in this thread). He did pay for the service provided. He probably could have gotten the same rate with dozens if not hundreds of other rate codes … unless you think the Florida Department of Management Services managed to negotiate the best possible rate ever.

    Many museums have a discount rate for students, retirees, employees of other museums. If you ask if they can give you a discount, and they assume you qualify without asking or verifying… then is anyone committing fraud?

  • Marcin Jeske

    The key question is whether he misrepresented himself.

    You would argue that by providing the code AWD #A113400 (this is the actual code for the State of Florida… obvious?) he knowingly represented himself as someone he is not.

    I would argue that merely giving an indecipherable code (which can be found on the internet or even mistyped – AWD #A113499 is a University of Florida code for visitors) is not fraud.

    You can look up the contract online… it does give quite favorable and reliable rates… but includes: “limited to employees of State of FL government agencies and employees of eligible users of the state term contract” and “It is required that all customers of this contract present a valid employee ID when picking up the rental vehicle.”

    Sounds like Avis is not living up to the terms of the contract if it is not checking for ids at rental pickup.

    If he was asked for id, or if he knew it was only for employees… then you are right and there is no sympathy. In fact, this Florida code has been infamously abused by the XlyerXalk (Chris doesn’t like to see that word) crowd to get good rates, along with advice on how to impersonate state employees and even bribe counter agents…. now that is fraud.

    But unless you have other evidence, I am willing to take his word for it that he just found the code online, out of context, plugged it in, liked the rate, and reserved… and was never challenged until after the rental.

  • Marcin Jeske

    Except the corporate codes are mixed together with a whole bunch of affiliation codes, and there are various levels of requirements (everything from being an executive of the company to having at least heard their name once). It is not at all obvious to a renter that a given code requires them to prove anything… and even so… proof of eligibility should be requested at the first possible opportunity (making the reservation) and the burden of proof should end once the rental begins… if the rental agency has failed to challenge a rate by that time, it is their fault. (The exceptions being obvious fraud like fake ids, bribes, etc.)

  • Thoroughlyamused

    It’s simple, really. The OP was booked at a rate which he didn’t qualify for. He claims that it was the result of a sketchy third party booking, which is entirely possible. We also must consider the possibility that the OP is lying and found the code on Flyertalk, Fatwallet, etc. With that, there are two possible parties responsible for the invalid rate code:

    1. The sketchy 3rd party booking service, Autoslash. (I want to give the OP the benefit of the doubt and say it was them but I can’t be sure.
    2. The OP himself.

    You can spin it any way you like, but at the end of the day, the OP was booked for a rate which he was not entitled to due to no fault of Avis. The question then becomes whether or not Avis is entitled to the money that the OP illegitimately gained. If you are going by the legal document the OP signed and agreed to of his own free will (rental agreement), Avis is 100% entitled to it. Even if you take that out of the equation, I still say Avis is entitled to it. IMO, people who say otherwise are encouraging behavior that is at best, unwise (booking through sketchy 3rd party outfits) and at worst, deceiving (deliberately booking a rate which one does not qualify for). We don’t need to encourage that behavior.

    As a sidenote, many complaint on this forum regarding rental companies complain about the strict policies regarding documentation of damage, underwriting, etc. Do we really want to give the rental companies the responsibility of verifying eligibility under every corporate account? That goes beyond showing a business card.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    You see, the problem is that people want it both ways. Up above, we have Fishplate arguing that after the beginning of the rental, the rental company can not determine ineligibility. He then argues that the customer should be allowed to provide proof of eligibility long after the fact to receive the discounted rate. You can’t have it both ways.

  • Marcin Jeske

    But did the OP know that entering the code #A113400 was at all connected with the State of Florida? I wouldn’t… unless I had investigated online first. If Avis made no effort to confirm with him… until after he returned the rental.. it sounds like Avis preferred keeping a customer and then charging them a higher rate when they had no other options.

    Honestly, even if he had booked the rate knowing he had to be a Florida employee (which would be wrong), I would still criticize Avis for not bothering to notice until the only recourse was charging him more. If they willfully avoid checking before a rental in order to trap customers with post rental charges, that is just as sketchy. Two wrongs do not make a right.

    In this case, it still looks like there might just be one wrong… on Avis’ side.

  • Marcin Jeske

    Oh, I think he meant “different company” in the sense of other than the rental agency. Rental agencies distribute 1000’s of codes to various organizations … many of them with less restrictive terms than the Florida code at issue.

    I think Enterprise more often uses referrer links than codes, and shows the English name of the organization in a larger and colored font towards the top of the page while making a reservation.

    Other rental agencies are not as obvious with the ownership or terms of a code you provide.

  • Marcin Jeske

    “When adding any of them, it does state that the rental must be eligible for it and asks for proof to be ready.”

    Ok, fair enough, I went to the Avis website, asked for a car for week in Orlando, and used the Florida AWD code #A113400. I went through all steps up to the last, final one before the reservation would be made. I carefully read each screen… and while the AWD code was shown, no where was there any mention of the State of Florida or any requirements related to the code.

    I am not asking for interfacing with company HR records or FBI agents to come out to your house for an interview… simply that the qualification for the rate be plainly stated as early in the process as possible, and that at least minimal effort be made to verify eligibility before the reservation is made.

    A simple question: “Do you work for the state of Florida?” would weed out the vast majority of people who are just trying to save money in good faith with “this awesome code that my friend sent me or I saw online”.

    Leaving the rest, who knowingly book a rate they are not eligible for, to be caught without ID at the counter. The fact that Avis apparently has not bothered to implement or enforce any of these measures… and instead only retroactively “catches” violators, suggests to me they benefit from the status quo.

    All this despite the fact that these kinds of things have been happening for years, have only gotten worse as codes spread via the internet, and in particular this code seems to have been targeted with massive abuse.

    I don’t see how the above measures would be any kind of additional burden on even the smallest companies… as to retroactive adjustments when someone forgets the code… that’s simple Avis treating a customer well in accordance with the agreed contract… and really has nothing to do with the reverse… increasing a fare after rental.

    It’s not some sort of counter-balance… if I buy apples at a fruit stand, the vendor is free to throw in an extra apple for a good customer, but that does not excuse him from quoting a price per pound to another customer and then taking a few apples out.

  • Marcin Jeske

    Why is there zero chance?

    From just the code #A113400, which is included in lists of discount codes floating around the internet, you have no way to tell the requirements.

    When you use the code to look for cars on the Avis website, there is no information about eligibility… how can you claim there can be no people acting in good faith to get caught by this?

  • Marcin Jeske

    No the code is not clearly marked. It is a random string of numbers… and Avis’s website gives no indication of any restrictions.

  • Marcin Jeske

    First, I think based on the information presented, it is inaccurate to say the OP cheated. He claims he used a third party and did not even know the code had been applied. Even if he had personally applied the code after finding it on the web… it would be very plausible that he was not aware of the requirements, as Avis does not show them anywhere while making the reservation. (And Avis at least pretended to believe him when it finally agreed to honor the rate.)

    I agree with you that monthly reconciliation is great for the purposes of a businesses record keeping… but it is a terrible way to catch both true cheaters and accidental tourists.

    While you may have had a small group where it was easy to track who was authorized… much larger organizations would have to have a full-time person looking up employment records, checking schedules, or doing whatever validation was needed. Then all the abusers would need to be kicked back to the rental agency to be chased down and charged, some of that ending in collections and courts and credit card disputes.

    Why not implement the most basic, simple checks at the time of reservation and rental? No hops or hoops (sorry, couldn’t resist) involved.

  • Marcin Jeske

    “You can’t have it both ways.”

    Why not?

    This is not an issue of cosmic balance or yin and yang… the two situations you are trying to say are symmetrical are anything but.

    In one case, the agency offers the customer a price prior to rental without verifying they are eligible for it. For any given code, they should know better than I do what the terms are.

    In the other case, the customer is agreeing to a higher rate than contracted with the understanding that once proof of eligibility is supplied, the contract would be honored.

    The change in the second case is by mutual agreement, in the first it is not. The same applies in other retail situations… if a grocery store hasn’t bothered to verify they offered me the correct pricing until after I leave with my purchases… they better not be chasing me down in the parking lot. Conversely, if I look on my receipt and see that they overcharged me for milk, or rang up a single item twice… you can bet I am justified in returning to the store.

    Let me ask you… at those grocery stores where there is a loyalty card program that gives discounts on items, and they offer to use the store code if you don’t have a card, do you turn them down “because that would be fraud”?

  • Marcin Jeske

    I think if AutoSlash put him in a rate without checking his eligibility, that is on them. But even if the OP used the code directly, with the information we have, he is still innocent of the allegations of fraud, cheating, lying being thrown at him.

    The OP did not “illegitimately gain” any money. Had Avis even bothered to ask about eligibility, they would have correctly offered him a higher rate, and he likely would have gone elsewhere, or found a similar code for which he was eligible. (There are thousands of these things, many much more permissive. And no matter how special you think your organization is, it is likely hundreds of others have the same rate.)

    The OP paid what Avis decided a long time ago was a fair rate for its service.

    You say this was all “due to no fault of Avis”. Yet how can that be true if they did not make even the most minimal of efforts to verify he was eligible for the rate they offered until well after he returned the car? At best they turn a blind eye to people who accidentally or deliberately book the wrong rate… at worst, they do so to catch people like the OP… hook them with a low rate, then reel them in with the real rate once they have no chance to escape.

    You make an excellent point regarding documentation: Why would rental car companies, notoriously strict about documentation of damages, be so lax in who they rent to?
    – Maybe they are just inconsistent and disorganized.
    – Maybe, as some suggest, they don’t want to annoy big clients.
    – Or maybe, lax checking is better for their bottom line, bringing in more business, and the potential to add charges post-rental. (But really, should never expect that kind of duplicity from rental car companies, should we?)

  • MarkKelling

    The main thing I have found about the AAA rate is, at least at the hotels I choose to stay at, it gives you the 6 pm day of arrival cancelation option that the similarly priced discounts offered by the hotel without using AAA do not provide. Sometimes the AAA rate is actually higher than other offers from the hotel.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    “But even if the OP used the code directly, with the information we have, he is still innocent of the allegations of fraud, cheating, lying being thrown at him.”

    That would only be true if the OP received the code from Avis or State of Florida. While we don’t know where exactly the code came from, we do know that the OP did not receive the code from either of these sources. Avis can’t control which discount codes are shared online, but that doesn’t mean Avis must offer the deeply discounted rate to anyone capable of entering a 6 digit number on a website.

    “The OP did not “illegitimately gain” any money.”

    The OP was booked at a rate which he didn’t qualify for, saving him hundreds of dollars. He did not qualify for that rate, yet received the benefits of the rate anyway. You think this is legitimate?

    “The OP paid what Avis decided a long time ago was a fair rate for its service.”

    A fair rate for members of that organization, sure. Just like Avis employees receive a discounted rate. Just because one particular subset gets discounted rates does NOT mean those rates should apply to everyone.

    “You say this was all “due to no fault of Avis”.”

    It wasn’t Avis’s fault that the reservation was made at a rate which the OP didn’t qualify for. And as I said above, it also isn’t Avis’s fault the rate was shared inappropriately. It isn’t the standard across rental companies to check corporate credentials when renting. And no, it isn’t some big conspiracy.

    “Why would rental car companies, notoriously strict about documentation of damages, be so lax in who they rent to?”

    What documentation other than a faxed letter faxed at time of rental from HR would qualify the renter to receive the discount? Many people have said business cards, what happens if someone has old business cards? Old letterhead? What happens if they use this illegitimate documentation to get a discount, then an audit later finds out they were never entitled? Would it be OK to charge them in that case? IF so, why is this any different? Because the OP makes an unsubstantiated claim that he didn’t know the discount was restricted?

    Speaking as someone who has spent entirely too much time behind the rental counter, It just isn’t practical to verify corporate eligibility with every renter. Especially when an audit later can easily find out whether or not the renter was eligible.

    Finally, please remember that the rental agreement specifically states that a renter using a corporate discount code must be fully eligible to use said code. The agreement also states that if an audit finds later they are not eligible, they explicitly agree to authorize the additional charges on the renter’s CC. I’ve said it before: If you voluntarily choose to enter into a binding legal agreement, you are bound by said agreement. You do NOT get to pick and choose which terms of the contract you want to have apply.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    “For any given code, they should know better than I do what the terms are.”

    Avis speaks to the use of AWDs on its site. I don’t know why some dude from NJ would feel entitled to use a discount code specifically meant for employees of the State of Florida.

    “f a grocery store hasn’t bothered to verify they offered me the correct pricing until after I leave with my purchases… they better not be chasing me down in the parking lot.”

    I’m guessing if the bank teller hands you $200 too much, you would accept that too, right? Because if the Costco cashier misses scanning your 4 pack of Filet Mignons, you feel perfectly justified in leaving without paying, because you are the customer and the customer is always right. In other words, you expect mistakes affecting you as a customer to be rectified, yet any mistakes the business makes in your favor are permanent and can not be changed at a later point in time.

  • Jim Zakany

    Actually, the man told the truth. He said where he found the discount code and that he does not work for the Florida Dept of Management Services. In fact, all evidence we have indicates that the person is truthful.

    Your assertion that he lied is made up from the whole cloth.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    That’s not true. Costco has negotiated discounts directly with the rental companies. Usually it’s a percentage off the rate, with other perks like free upgrades, additional drivers, etc.

    That is MUCH DIFFERENT than plugging in random codes that the renter may or may not qualify for.

  • Marcin Jeske

    From the Costco Travel rental car page:

    “Let our Low Price Finder search the best price for you.

    Price all brands and vehicles with one search with our Low Price Finder. Enter your criteria and we’ll shop all coupons, codes and discounts for the lowest prices!”

    Please note I said “roughly the same way”… I too agree that we can trust Costco much more to apply valid codes… and the additional driver perk is across the board. But the Costco Travel approach is somewhat more complicated than just a single affinity code.

    Plugging in combinations of codes and coupons is a perfectly valid approach when there are so many out there with so many interactions… but whether a company does it for you or you do it yourself, there is the risk that purposefully or not you may overlook some of the requirements.

  • Mike Z

    I don’t see what the big deal is here. The company issues discount codes. The customer used one and rented from a company that he may not have rented from otherwise. the company makes money. The Florida department gets a rental credited to it’s bottom line for ongoing discounts.
    As the OP noted, at any time, the company counld have informed the renter of a problem but never did so. The renter did not contract to rent at $900, and so billing for that later on I think is not moral, and really should not be legal.

  • Marcin Jeske

    It’s rarely obvious from the codes what the terms are, and while some businesses allow you to lookup terms for codes, that is often obtuse legalese. Why not make it easier for the customer to comply by checking for them?

    You mistakenly conflate paying the posted (if unintended) price with paying nothing at all.

    I specifically referred to the pricing offered. When I shop, I take note of the prices posted and if the total at checkout differs significant;y from what I expect to pay, I investigate whether they have forgot to scan an item or have overcharged me for something.

    The same approach would apply at the bank … if I get $200 more than expected, that would clearly mean there was a mistake in the transaction. If I notice a cashier has missed scanning something … I bring it up.

    But given the number of times I have let mild-overcharging go unchallenged because I was in a hurry or didn’t want the hassle, versus those few times when a product got through unscanned … the stores are doing much better than me. Not to mention the times I haven’t gotten around to returning a literal bad apple to the store (looks perfect on the outside, but rotten on the inside when you get it home) or a recent experience where I miscounted a wad of dollars … and had the cashier assume it was meant as a tip.