New California law could make your next car rental more expensive
Californians who rent a car may want to consider the new charges on their bills as the prohibition on additional tolls has long been quietly removed.
Those fees — the largest of which charge between $13 and $15 per day for each additional driver — have been banned in California for more than 30 years. In fact, California is the only state to ban such fees by 2021, according to the bill’s analysis.
The updated law, which went into effect January 1, still prohibits rental car companies from charging additional drivers in certain circumstances, such as if the driver is a spouse or child the child, sibling, parent or grandparent of the tenant or if the driver is a co-worker or employer.
However, consumer protection groups say fees not included in the initial advertised price can add significantly to the cost of the service. (Many company websites still claim that there are no additional driving fees in California.)
“It’s just another way to make more money without it showing up in the rates or prime rates on cars,” Robert Herrell, executive director of the California Consumer Federation, told me.
“We have only seen these inflated fees that are misleading to consumers,” he said, adding that such fees “disproportionately impact lower-income renters.”
Bill, AB 901, was introduced by Representative Lisa Calderon, a Democrat representing parts of the southeastern Gateway Cities of Los Angeles County and the San Gabriel Valley. She said car rental companies are struggling because of the “heavy damage” of the coronavirus pandemic and “many price caps and burdensome restrictions.”
The bill was introduced at the behest of car rental giants Avis, Enterprise and Hertz, which also own Alamo, Budget, Dollar, National and Thrifty.
Consumer unions lobbied against the original version of the bill but dismissed objections, Herrell said, as a show of goodwill after provisions like the order prohibition of tolls for some additional drivers are added.
“The bill got through this process” before the union and others opposed it, he said. “Even if we tried to contact the author’s office early on, it’s clear that the rental car industry is driving the train here.”
When the pandemic caused the travel crater in early 2020, the rental car industry sell less car to make quick cash; Hertz, heavily in debt, file for bankruptcy protection.
But when travel returned a year later, car rental prices skyrocketed as the agencies were unable to purchase enough new vehicles to rebuild their depleted fleets. Hertz make 600 million dollars in profit for the three months ending September 2021, and the Avis . Budget Team made nearly 675 million dollars in profit in that period, a record.
A spokesman for the American Car Rental Association, a lobbying group, said the fee covers the cost of insurance for additional drivers. “The assumption is that if you have different drivers operating the vehicle, the risk is different than if there were one driver,” Greg Scott, the spokesman, told me.
Sharon Faulkner, executive director of the association, told Auto Rental News“This is a great example of what can be achieved when ACRA members come together to seek a common legislative goal.”
The updated law also allows companies to double the fee if they find out that the vehicle has been driven by an unauthorized driver, and it increases the damage waiver limit to $25 a day for most cars are smaller, going from $11 to $17 depending on the model car. That limit will now increase with inflation.
Hertz referred questions to the car rental association, and Calderon declined to comment beyond her statements during the bill’s passage. Avis declined to comment.
Here are the typical fees per additional driver for the largest rental car agencies and any exclusions they make beyond California’s mandatory spousal and family exemptions. and colleagues.
HertzDollar and Thrifty: $13.50 per day, up to $189.
Hertz’s website says it waives unmarried partners who live together at the same address and are members of their loyalty program, and Avis’ website says it waives. for life partners. But representatives at those companies’ locations say that only spouses can be added as additional drivers for free. Enterprise says it has verified spouses and domestic partners by matching the address on the driver’s license.
Carried away? Be sure to review all the paperwork you sign and be prepared to push back any unwarranted charges.
William P. Davis is the assistant editor of The New York Times, based in Los Angeles.
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Apple ombré cake.
Where we are traveling
Today’s tip from Mary Anne Salsich:
“While I appreciate the natural beauty of California, I also love the beauty of the house. One of my favorites is Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which has an overwhelming collection of art from a wide variety of art styles. I could spend a whole day or an hour a day just looking at not only the beauty but also the interesting pieces of modern life. Give it a go, although it has an admission fee.”
Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to CAtoday@nytimes.com. We will share more in upcoming versions of the newsletter.
What we are recommending
“Snow” a drama completely under observation about the cocaine empire of a family in South Los Angeles.
And before you go, some good news
Today we have not one but two stories of pets who find their way home after years apart.
First: A cat that went missing in Riverside County seven years ago was found and reunited last week with its family, who have since moved to Tennessee. “We never thought we’d see her again,” said the owner.
Also this month, a dog believed to have gone missing in the Bay Area 12 years ago was rescued 60 kilometers from where it disappeared. It was also returned to its owner. “I’m still in shock,” owner told KTLA.
Thanks for reading. We will be back tomorrow.
P.S. here Small crossword todayand a clue: spanish for “fire” (5 letters).
Soumya Karlamangla, Briana Scalia, Mariel Wamsley and Geordon Wollner contributed to California Today. You can contact the team at CAtoday@nytimes.com.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/24/us/california-car-rental-law.html New California law could make your next car rental more expensive