Once again- I dont believe in being overly negative, but its my job as a Maven to tell you about this:

Beware Budget Rent-A-Car! In my continuing hate-hate relationship with rental car companies, I discovered this new one from Budget in Nashville, not sure if all of them are doing it, but because this slip look mass produced, you can bet they are…especially when you crunch the numbers.

Before I get to the new scam, lets revisit an old one: “Buy a tank of gas in advance, so you dont have to refill when you return”- Well that scam, which is run by nearly all rent a car companies simply means that you buy a full tank at near regular price and return the car tank “empty”. Fact is, no one ever returns a car to the rent a car company with an empty tank, so anything extra, even a few gallons, means the car company got you to pay for a few gallons of gas that you didnt use. If you return a car with a quarter or half tank, you are literally giving them $10-30 depending on the size of the tank, and what they say the capacity is. (Typically there are an additional 2-3 gallons left even when its on empty). So I encourage you to never take advantage of “buy a tank of gas in advance”. Just fill it up before you drop it off. I know in the past, its quite common for me to only drive 40-50 miles and not need to fill it up, because the gas gauge is on “full”. This is where the new scam comes in:

Budget’s “EZ FUEL” (I love how they even have the “TM” logo by it as if they are thinking about trademarking this until someone decides to file a class action law suit). The way it works is, if you drive less than 75 miles (I wonder if they did any research on this, determining what the typical distance someone drives with a rental car), you automatically will be charged an additional $14, even if you DONT sign up for the “buy a tank in advance” offer. In fact, if you drive less than 75 miles, the only way you can avoid this charge is to show them a receipt for adding gas to the tank.

What this means is, all those folks who would rent a car for a few business meetings and then head back to the airport, looking at their gas gauge and thinking the tank is “full”, will in fact have to take it to a gas station and top it off just so they wont be charged the $14. Even if they only traveled 10 or 15 miles on their trip (or 30 like I did in Nashville). The beautiful thing about this is they wont tell you about this new policy, they just put this sticker on your envelope and hand it to you. If you try to contest it, as I did, they will state it’s their new policy and unless you can produce a receipt they are going to charge you anyway. Nice job Budget! At this point your flight is leaving in an hour, so off you go to the airport with your luggage, shrugging your shoulders and saying to yourself “its only $14”. Not me- it ticked me off. I see this as someone reaching into my wallet and taking money.

Multiply this by all the people who do probably do this everyday, and Budget is probably making MILLIONS on this. WOW….. Im so sick of the games. This is why I don’t believe in nickel-and-dime-ing photography customers and hate to hear nightmare stories of people getting “squeezed”. Its a crappy feeling to know when a company has taken advantage of you and it destroys long term trust for short term gain. Its just not worth it.

Don’t use Budget Rental Car if you can help it.