Couple charged hundreds more than expected for rental car

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Bill Petrasek and his wife recently went on vacation to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary. They rented a car and logged 1,600 miles trekking through California and Nevada, capturing many memories along with way.

“It is just amazing,” he said. “This country has so much to see and we love going and seeing this country!”

When the couple returned the car at the Reno Airport, their bill was a lot bigger than they expected.

“This is $968 dollars, is what I was expecting to pay,” Petrasek explained. “So she hands me this when they’re checking the car and says $1,574. I said ‘what?!'”

It turns out Thrifty charged them a $300 cleaning fee for cigarette smoke and a $200 lost key fee, both for a rental car the couple had for less than a day at the beginning of their trip.

“I said ‘that’s not right. That’s not me,'” Petrasek recalled. “And she said, ‘well, I can’t help you.'”

“At this point, I’m getting aggravated,” he added. “We don’t smoke. You can’t tell me there’s smoke damage in the car that we turned in that we only had for 14 hours.”

Petrasek also said he didn’t lose the key since he drove the car back to the lot himself.

The couple wound up paying the full amount, saying they felt they had to in order to catch their flight home.

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Know Your Rights: Call 12 for Action Consumer Guide »

After returning home, Petrasek tried unsuccessfully to get his money back. That’s when Call 12 for Action got involved.

A representative from the Hertz Corporation – which operates Thrifty – sent us an email, saying, “We apologize for the mishandling of Mr. Petrasek’s rental and for the inconvenience caused to him. As promised, his refund was processed.”

“My bank statement came in – $500 credit,” said Petrasek.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, you should always check companies’ policies on drop-off fees and out-of-state charges before booking a rental car.

Visit the FTC’s website for more tips on renting a vehicle.

Do you have a consumer problem you need help solving? Contact the Call 12 for Action Center Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. at (401) 228-1950.