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3 On Your Side: Car Rental Fees

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jim-donovan-web Jim Donovan
Jim Donovan is a 13-time Emmy Award-winning consumer reporter w...
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By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Have you ever shopped online for a rental car, thought you found a great deal, only to find when you make the reservation that the initial rate becomes a lot higher? As 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan finds, it usually because a bunch of fees have been added on.

Frequent car renter Barry Maher says comparison shopping for the cheapest rental deal online can be frustrating. According to Maher, “The prices are very often quite deceiving and it can be very difficult.”

For example a small SUV appears to be available for about $47 a day, but when you go to “check out” and all the fees are added, that price jumps to more than $73. A compact car, on another rental web site is listed for a low price of about $14 a day. But when you go to reserve it, the price nearly doubles to $26.

Bob Barton is with The American Car Rental Association. He says, “This is one of the challenges we face as an industry, our consumers experience sticker shock.” According to Barton, most of the fees are out of the company’s control.

Depending where you rent a car: the state, county or local government may be trying to make extra cash with car renters fees.

Consumer advocates say car rental companies may have no control over cities or states driving up fees, but they do have control over disclosing the real price of the car up front. Edgar Dworsky with Consumerworld.org says, “Car rental companies tell you one price, get you all excited about it and then wind up charging you significantly more.”

New federal laws that went into effect recently require that airlines disclose extra fees up front, but that isn’t the case with rental car companies. In fact we found only one big U.S. car rental company, Enterprise, is showing you the fees as you comparison shop.

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