Consumer Protection
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How to Protect Yourself: Car Rentals
Source: The Florida Attorney General's Office


Some car rental companies use questionable tactics when negotiating or offering rental contracts, which can include last minute charges, or using intimidation and scare tactics to coerce consumers into buying things they do not need. Before signing a rental contract, please consider the following:

Make sure you get what you need
A rental company scam is attempting to intimidate consumers into buying extras they do not need. One of the most common “offers” is the collision damage waivers, which release drivers from charges for damage which may occur to the automobile. Check your own insurance policy or credit card agreement as you may already be covered for such damage. The waiver may also exclude instances where a car is stolen, tire damage, or drivers who have taken drugs, even when the drug is nothing more than over-the-counter cold or headache medicine.

Make sure you get what you want
Advertised low rates may be subject to add-on charges for the extras you really want. A cheap rate may not entitle you to automatic transmission, air conditioning or allowing a second person to drive the car.

Gassing up
Many car rental companies give drivers a full tank of gas and ask that you return it with a full tank. Make sure you fill it up before returning the car, as the rental agency will charge you at least double the market price for a gallon of gas.

Watch the clock
You will be told to return your car by a certain time in order to avoid late charges. Make sure to keep a close eye on the time, because keeping a car a few hours past the deadline can subject you to being charged for an entire extra day, and possibly at a higher rate than the one for which you signed up.

Getting the best rate
If you are a business traveler, don't automatically assume the corporate rate will be the lowest. Although corporate rates typically offer free insurance and mileage, they may not be competitive with promotional rates. Instead, ask for the lowest available rate to make sure you are not paying too much.