DWYM: Be watchful of those rental car fees

Unexpected rental car fees
Posted at 10:44 AM, Jan 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-04 11:46:38-05

When you need a rental car this time of year, most of us are usually in a hurry.

You've been in a wreck. Or your car broke down. Or you need a small truck for a move.

But consumer reporter John Matarese shows how rushing to return it can lead to expensive troubles, so you don't waste your money.

Renting a car when yours is in the shop is never fun.

But what can make it even worse is when you get hit for extra charges that you feel you don't deserve.

Butch Hatcher is a clean car fanatic, who loves shining his BMW.

"This here is a 2003,” he says.

So imagine his surprise when a rental car company charged him hundreds in cleaning fees!

“They charged me $300 for a clean-up,” Hatcher said.

But the cleaning fee was only one surprise

His receipt from this Avis-Budget office shows a late fee of $140 a day for a week, even though he insists he had returned the car.

“They said I didn't turn it in,” he said. “They said their records show the car wasn't turned until a week later."

He says he dropped the car off after hours, locking the keys inside.

"I called customer service and told them I dropped it out front and put the key under the passenger side seat,” he said.

It doesn't matter what rental company you use, and whether you are using a car or a moving truck.

There are some things you should do at drop-off to make sure this doesn't happen to you.

The Better Business Bureau says don't drop off a rental after hours: you can be billed for overnight damage.

Also, take cell phone photos of the rental car at drop of, so they can't say you dented it, or left it filthy.

So we visited the Budget rental office, where a manager pointed to this sign saying "no after hour returns" and said he had no idea Hatcher had returned the car.

Result: hundreds in late fees.

"They ended up charging how much? They ended up taking at least $1,600."

Plus a cleaning charge for this man who says he keeps every car as clean as his BMW.

An Avis-Budget spokeswoman tells us they will see if they can reduce the late fees, but this is a reminder to not return a rental if no one is around.

So as always, you don't waste your money.