Paying for toll roads and bridges/tunnels has become more complicated. More and more locations depend on toll-by-plate systems to send you a bill or otherwise use a transponder in your car to keep track of how much you owe. If you go through a toll in a rental car, the bill for the toll goes to the rental car company and eventually gets charged to your credit card. Rental car companies have turned this into another way to augment their revenue stream and often add huge surcharges even if you only go through one toll during your rental. We’ve written about how you can try to avoid these charges by renting from a company that charges a fair rate for their toll payment services. But what if the car rental company sends you a bill after your rental for tolls you know you didn’t go through?Steve, our friend and reader of YMMV let us know about how he received a charge of $141.50 on his credit card several months after renting a car from Hertz at Philadelphia Airport. Upon seeing the charge hit his Citi credit card, he called the bank to put the charge into dispute, as he knew he hadn’t gone through tolls that would equal that amount during the rental. Citi researched the claim but responded by reinstating the charges claiming that Hertz proved he was the one who made the charges and the bill was valid.
Here’s where things become complicated. How can you prove to a bank that the company that charged you is wrong? I had a similar instance with a rental car company when they insisted that I was responsible for returning a car with a full tank of gas when I only rented it with half of a tank. Steve did a smart thing and requested a copy of the itemized bill from Plate Pass, Hertz’s company to process toll payments. He also kept a copy of his rental statement from Hertz.
Quite clearly on the rental car bill, his rental in Philadelphia started at 1:24 PM and the first toll on the Plate Pass statement was for the George Washington Bridge at 2:03 PM. That’s a 112-mile trip in 40 minutes, without going through any tolls before hitting the GWB. Anyone who’s ever driven through New Jersey in the middle of the afternoon knows that it is pretty much impossible to do.
Steve also supposedly managed to rack up this toll bill over 4 days and still returned the car to Philadelphia with only 178 miles on the odometer.
Even with this mounting evidence in his favor, the companies could not easily solve the problem. At first, he called Citi and they told him he’d have to resolve it with Hertz. When calling Hertz, they told him he’d have to resolve this issue with Plate Pass. Eventually, Plate Pass agreed the toll charges on his rental didn’t add up and they would issue him a credit. This was in November. He still didn’t receive a credit on his charge card so he called Citi to dispute the charge again claiming that Plate Pass agreed the charge was incorrect. It remained that way until the beginning of January when Steve finally received a check in the mail with a refund in the amount of the total charges of the tolls from the rental. There was no explanation given, just a check in an envelope.
While this story was resolved in Steve’s favor, you can see how difficult it was to prove he was in the right. What if he had driven the car for more miles, or even worse, drove it to New York? How could he prove those weren’t tolls he had gone through?
I shared this story to show that it’s possible to win when arguing with banks and travel companies, even if they make things difficult. It may take more time and effort than should be required to prove you’re right, but persistence pays off in the end.
A hat tip and a huge thank-you to Steve C. for sharing his story.
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