Is this the end of unexpected car hire supplements?

When Jeremy Epstein hired a Nissan Altima from Hertz to Albuquerque recently, he could not believe the car hire rates. They did bring up the extras loaded by the rest of the travel industry like the work of the amateurs.

They do . But not for long.

The Epstein base rate for a weekly rental was $ 280. But then the car rental company added daily and weekly surcharges, including "government surcharges" of $ 25, a "concession fee recovery" of $ 34, plus $ 3 "vehicle license fee, a $ 1 energy surcharge", a charge of $ 11 "," A $ 10 motor vehicle lease tax and a $ 45 state sales tax.

When the dust had settled, Epstein, a research scientist in Fairfax, Virginia, was aware of $ 411.

"This is a 46 percent increase," he says.

He believes that customers would not tolerate that kind of nickel-and-diming otherwise.

"Imagine going to the supermarket and receiving a receipt at check-out," he says. "In addition to the cost of food, there's a fee for delivering food to the store, cash register space and a fraction of the bill to keep the refrigerators cold." That's what car rental companies are doing. " .

There is good news for motorists like Epstein. The industry is gradually changing. Hertz revealed the rates at the time he quoted his initial price (although he did not see it because someone else made the reservation for him). Regulatory bodies only require that rental companies show the full cost before buyers complete the booking. Car rental companies cut tariffs before the final purchase screen as a service for drivers.

"This also helps provide transparency to our customers," says Hertz spokeswoman Lauren Luster.

Car rental companies are moving away from a business model that too often relied on deception on one of full transparency. Progress is slow, sometimes anguishingly slow, but it is measurable. It may soon put the car hire companies in the enviable position to give the example for the rest of the travel industry.

The additional costs you see on your bill fall into two general categories: taxes, imposed by the city, county or state; and taxes added by the car rental company. Both are a predictable source of customer indignation. Taxes do not make sense for drivers and taxes often seem arbitrary.

Consider what happened to William Shallcross, a real estate developer in Altamonte Springs, Florida, when he hired a car in Manchester, NH. He made a double lap when he found 9% of "meals and rooms (rent taxes)" on his account. Shallcross could not remember any meal service in his vehicle.

"It looks like a junk tax," he says.

In fact, it is a tax levied in the restaurants of New Hampshire, in the hotel rooms. . . and car hire. But Shallcross is right: it seems bogus, and should be part of his rent rate rather than an add-on.

More than 40 were levied a tax on short-term rental cars, according to a 2015 survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Among the states that tax car hire, the rates were equal to 11.5 percent of Maryland.

But not all taxes are outside the control of a rental company. Julie Codrington, an IT technician from Gibraltar, Michigan, contacted me recently after being overturned by the rates for "countercurrent recovery", "shuttle recovery" and "system recovery" on the account. "I rented a car for $ 200 online," he says. "After all the taxes and additional charges I ended up paying $ 421."

those we are garbage fees – the type that industry experts agree should be turned over to the rental price.

Car rental companies and online agencies that manage rentals have taken important steps towards solving the problem. For example, when I recently checked an example rental rate, Enterprise quoted an all-inclusive price. Hertz offered two rates: a low base rate above a "total" rate that included required fees and commissions. Avis has quoted a low base rate and revealed the total cost of three screens in the reservation.

The dissemination of online travel agencies has also changed. Expedia indicated a low base rate in bold, but revealed the total cost below it on a regular basis. Priceline has quoted a low daily base rate, but has waited until the second screen to reveal the full cost, which included taxes and fees.

Just a few years ago, most car rental companies and online agencies hid their real costs. Often, a search would result in a "basic" non-bookable daily rate. Later in the booking process, the company would add commissions, leaving you with a flat-rate price that included mandatory taxes and fees. Since then, many customers have already made a booking decision.

"This type of price has no place in the car rental business," says Chris Brown, executive director of Auto Rental News, a commercial publication.

He will not do it in the future. The newcomers of the sector like Silvercar, which offers completely transparent prices, have pushed the sector to a better disclosure of rental rates. But an even bigger push came from customers, who are fed up with rental costs that end up being hundreds of dollars more than their initially quoted daily rates.

So, why does not everyone still show an all-in price? It takes time to move from the old way to the new. Some companies still retain tariff information until later in the reservation – a procedure called "drip pricing" – for competitive reasons. It makes their rates a few dollars less, attracting travelers who may not pay attention to details.

But that competitive advantage is rapidly disappearing. For example, when selling through online agencies, car rental companies can not mislead customers in this way because sites compare rates on a matrix. "You can not fool the matrix," says Brown. In other words, companies must play according to the rules of the online agency, which force them to tell the truth.

This is the point of support for people who rent cars in this era of transparency. Look around carefully before booking a car. Check out the car rental site and an online travel agency. Call the company to find out if there is a better rate. You can not negotiate taxes and scraps from your account, but you can make sure the price you are given – and not a penny – is the price you pay.

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