When Wendy Osterweil receives a surprise bill for a traffic fine from Enterprise, she wonders if she’s being overcharged. Our advocates try to find out.
Question: We recently rented a car from Enterprise in Morecambe, England. A month after we returned it, we received a notice from Enterprise and Glasgow City Council stating that we received a “Bus Lane Enforcement Charge Notice.”
The Glasgow City Council notice read: “A Charge of 60 pounds is payable before the end of the period of 28 days, beginning with the date of service of this notice. If the charge is paid before the end of the period of 14 days, beginning with the date of service of this notice, the charge will be reduced by 50% to 30 pounds.”
We had been fined for turning from a bus lane. According to the cover letter from Enterprise, the rental company withdrew 65 pounds ($82) directly from our credit card without our knowledge or consent. Apparently Enterprise paid the amount of 30 pounds ($38) right away and then charged us an “administrative fee” of 35 pounds ($44). We did not have the opportunity to pay the reduced fee of 30 pounds directly to the Glasgow Council.
Of course, it is very disturbing to get a ticket a month after the fact and never knowing that we “broke” a law. We were returning the car in a very congested urban section of the city. There were no signs posted about turning lanes, and we were not stopped or informed of this apparent wrong turn.
We realize that we don’t have much chance of challenging this bus lane violation. We would, however, like to have the opportunity to pay the reduced fee of $38 rather than $82. The administrative fee is still a mystery — did Enterprise take it for themselves?
We have contacted Enterprise several times and in many ways. We were transferred and bumped from office to office without a resolution. I hope you can help us resolve this issue. — Wendy Osterweil, Philadelphia
Answer: Even a Glaswegian would have experienced a delay in notification, though perhaps not as long. The infraction was recorded digitally on a traffic camera, then required processing before the citation was mailed.
Driving on the opposite lanes from home, in a strange city, and in an unfamiliar car are combined challenges. Likely there were restricted-lane markings familiar to local residents. Yet had you driven in a similarly restricted lane around London, the base fine would have totaled 150 pounds ($190).
All told, is the fine and costs unreasonable? Enterprise’s prompt payment ultimately guaranteed a savings. Perhaps a written appeal to Glasgow City Council recovery of the fine. (Note that many U.S. municipal courts insist upon full payment before a hearing.)
Information on Enterprise Holdings policy for the United Kingdom is difficult to access. In 2012, though, John Murphy, the company’s vice president of airport operations, noted cashless toll and other electronic measures had complicated coordination of enforcement.
“Car hire companies are legally required to pay their customers’ violations in some locations,” he added in a 2012 statement. “However, many communities allow businesses to transfer the liability to whoever is responsible for the traffic penalty.”
Enterprise is not a third party here. As the registered vehicle owner, Glasgow holds it liable for payment of the fine. It clearly received the initial notice of infraction. It protected itself by immediately paying the outstanding fine, perhaps as an option, perhaps as legally required.
Whichever policy applied in Glasgow, Enterprise did not mess around. Moreover, its rental contract authorizes the unilateral settlement of costs not limited to moving violations, unpaid tolls and vehicle repairs.
All of these involve time and processing — administrative costs. (I might note that one month ago, I paid about 89 euro in unexpected “administrative fee” for bumper repair on a car I thought was fully insured.)
Enterprise group paid the lower fine total and subsequently waived its administrative fee after our advocates contacted the corporate office on your behalf.