Answer: The technology your wife used at the time of her rental should have helped her instead of leaving her with an overcharge of $104.
Car rental companies have installed electronic counter systems in order to avoid any misunderstandings with customers. Dollar’s included a series of digital screens that had to be read and acknowledged before finishing the rental process.
Two of the screens dealt with any additional options purchased, their daily cost, and then the estimated rental total, including all options, taxes and fees. When I checked with Dollar, it said it moved to the new system to better explain charges and to disclose any potential issues, such as traffic or toll violations.
If your wife wasn’t used to the system, she probably remembers what it was like before these countertop gadgets. Back then, you simply told the agent you were declining the insurance, and then the employee fixed the contract.
The Dollar employee should have informed your wife that she needed to decline the options on the screen, and cautioned her to read the options carefully. Instead, she may have hastily clicked “accept” several times, in the mistaken belief that she was looking at the right contract.
She would have had several opportunities to see the final rate and then make a correction at the end of the rental process and when she returned the car. Waiting until after she returned from her trip limited her options for recovering the insurance fee she was wrongfully charged.
At the same time, it is in a car rental company’s interests to keep the rental process as confusing as possible. Why? Optional insurance is highly profitable to car rental companies, so the more drivers sign up for it — even accidentally — the more money a location makes. I think there’s no question that Dollar could have been clearer about its insurance. I’ve used the digital screens myself and there’s a lot of small print; if you’re in a hurry, it’s asking a lot to read the whole document.
Still, your wife should have done her due diligence. And so should anyone else who rents a car in this age of surprise surcharges.
I contacted Dollar on your behalf. A representative said although the company’s records show your wife signed off on the insurance, “It is quite evident that Mr. Van Anne will continue to escalate this issue and remains very concerned with how he feels this charge was applied.”
Dollar refunded the $104.