Consumer Warning – Payless Car Rental Lawsuit

Consumer Warning – Payless Car Rental Lawsuit


>>>NEXT TONIGHT, A NATIONWIDE CONSUMER WARNING. PAYLESS CAR RENTALS UNDER FIRE OVER ITS FEES. HUNDREDS OF CUSTOMERS COMPLAINING THEY WERE CHARGED FOR SERVICES THEY DID NOT WANT. WHAT HAPPENED WHEN OUR CAMERAS WENT UNDERCOVER. HERE’S ABC’S GIO BENITEZ.>>HELLO.>>Reporter: ABC NEWS UNDERCOVER, RENTING CARS FROM PAYLESS CAR RENTAL. WE TAKE EACH CAR TO OUR EXPERT MECHANIC FOR INSPECTION.>>THIS IS A DANGEROUS TIRE.>>Reporter: PAYLESS TOWED THE CAR. THE MANAGER APOLOGIZING, GIVING A FULL REFUND.>>THAT CAR SHOULDN’T HAVE EVEN GONE OUT.>>Reporter: PAYLESS ALSO FACING QUESTIONS ABOUT FEES. A PROPOSED CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT, CUSTOMERS CLAIMING THEY WERE CHARGED FOR SERVICES THEY DIDN’T WANT. PLAINTIFF RICHARD ALEXANDER SAYS THE ONLINE QUOTE FOR HIS PAYLESS RENTAL — $217. HE SAYS PAYLESS TOLD HIM HE WAS GETTING A FREE UPGRADE, BUT WHEN HE RETURNED THE CAR, HE WAS SHOCKED. THE TOTAL? $528 AFTER CHARGES FOR INSURANCE AND ADDED SERVICES, NOT THE $217.>>I BELIEVE HE WAS TOLD TWO OR THREE TIMES I DO NOT NEED THIS.>>Reporter: AFTER RECEIVING MORE THAN 800 COMPLAINTS ON FEES IN THE LAST THREE YEARS, THE BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU GIVING PAYLESS THE WORST POSSIBLE RATING.>>AN F RATING.>>AN F RATING. SO THEY HAVE SALES PRACTICE ISSUES AND CONTRACT ISSUES AND BILLING ISSUES WITH CONSUMERS.>>Reporter: PAYLESS DECLINED OUR REPEATED INTERVIEW REQUESTS IN A STATEMENT SAYING, “THE TIRE PROBLEM YOU DESCRIBED IS HIGHLY UNUSUAL. SAFETY IS A TOP PRIORITY AND WE HAVE FOLLOWED UP WITH THE SUPERVISOR AT THAT LOCATION.” AS FOR THE LAWSUIT, PAYLESS SAID THEY CAN’T COMMENT ON PENDING LITIGATION. DAVID, TONIGHT, THE BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU ISSUING A NATIONWIDE WARNING ABOUT WHAT IT CALLS A PATTERN OF COMPLAINTS ABOUT PAYLESS SALES PRACTICES.>>>WE USE HIDDEN CAMERAS AT THE COUNTER OF A REMTS CAR COMPANY AFTER CUSTOMERS COMPLAINED OF CHARGES FOR SERVICES THEY SAY THEY DIDN’T WANT. SOMETIMES COSTING THEM HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS. WHAT ABC’S GEO BENITEZ AND HIS TEAM SAW.>>HELLO, HOW ARE YOU?>>Reporter: WE GO UNDERCOVER AT A PAYLESS CAR RENTAL LOCATION. >>AND JUST THE CAR RIGHT NOW, NO EXTRA WHATEVER. >>Reporter: NO EXTRA FEES. WE’RE GETTING CHARGED A DAILY INSURANCE FEE EVEN THOUGH THE BILL SAYS IT’S OPTIONAL. >>IT’S MANDATORY, THAT CHARGE. >>IT COMES WITH THE RATE. >>Reporter: ABC DECIDED TO RENT CARS FROM PAYLESS AFTER CUSTOMERS SAID THEY WERE HIT WITH UNEXPECTED FEES. RICHARD ALEXANDER RENTED FROM THEM IN VEGAS FOR SIX DAYS. DID YOUR QUOTED PRICE, $217?>>I THOUGHT IT WAS A GREAT TEAL. >>WHAT HAPPENED?>>I WAS GIVEN A BILL FOR $528.>>Reporter: PAYLESS WITH MORE THAN 200 LOCATIONS WORLDWIDE IS THE TARGET OF A PROPOSED CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT BY ALEXANDER AND OTHER PLAINTIFFS WHO ALLEGE PAYLESS USES DECEPTIVE PRACTICES TO CHARGE CUSTOMERS ADDITIONAL FEES. ALEXANDER SAYS IN HIS CASE IT BEGAN WHEN HE ACCEPTED WHAT HE THOUGHT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A FREE UPGRADE.>>I SPECIFICALLY ASKED THEM, $217, RIGHT? I WAS TOLD YES. I TOLD HIM THAT I DID NOT WANT ANY ADDED INSURANCE. >>Reporter: HE SAYS HE INITIALLED THE CONTRACT WHERE HE WAS TOLD BUT ONLY LATER REALIZED HE HAD BEEN CHARGED FOR THAT INSURANCE THAT HE DIDN’T WANT. AND MORE. YOU WERE CHARGED $159 FOR THIS LOST DAMAGE WAIVER, $35 FOR THE GAS SERVICE OPTION, YOU HAVE ANOTHER $35 FOR ROADSIDE PROTECTION. THAT ADDS UP TO A LOT OF MONEY. >>IT DOES. WE RETURNED THE VEHICLE. THE SAME PERSON HAPPENED TO BE WORKING. I CONFRONTED HIM. AND HIS RESPONSE WAS, “YOU CAN OPEN UP A TICKET COMPLAINT. >>WHAT HAPPENED WHEN YOU OPENED UP A TICKET COMPLAINT? I GOT A RESPONSE STATING THERE WAS NOTHING THEY WERE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT. >>Reporter: COMPLAINTS ABOUT ADD-ONS, INSURANCE, ROADSIDE PROTECTION, FUEL CHARGES DESPITE RETURNING WITH A FULL TANK, ARE THE MAIN ALLEGATIONS BY CUSTOMERS WHO CLAIM THEY WERE CHARGED FOR SERVICES THEY DIDN’T WANT. >>PAYLESS HAS USED DECEPTIVE BUSINESS PRACTICES IN ORDER TO LURE CUSTOMERS INTO THE SHOP TO RENT THEIR VEHICLES. >>LURE CUSTOMERS?>>LURE CUSTOMERS IN. THEY USE LOW RATES ONLINE TO GET PEOPLE TO USE THEM OVER OTHER RENTAL AGENCIES, THEN WHEN YOU GET THERE, THEY SLAM YOU WITH ADDITIONAL FEES.>>Reporter: THE BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU GIVING THE COMPANY THEIR LOWEST MARK FOR MORE THAN 800 COMPLAINTS OVER THE LAST THREE YEARS.>>AN “F” RATING. THEY HAVE SALES PRACTICE ISSUES AND CONTRACT ISSUES AND BILLING ISSUES WITH CONSUMERS.>>Reporter: WE SENT ABC PRODUCERS WITH HIDDEN CAMERAS TO RENT CARS. OUR RENTAL FROM PAYLESS AT LaGUARDIA AIRPORT CHECKS OUT, NO PROBLEM NO EXTRA FEES. OUR SECOND ONE FROM JFK ALSO HAD NO EXTRA FEES. BUT AFTER WE PICK IT UP, OUR MECHANIC NOTICES A MAJOR ISSUE.>>THIS IS A DANGEROUS TIRE. THEY ALL ARE.>>Reporter: ALL FOUR TIRES ARE BALD. AND LOOK AT THESE HOLES.>>IT’S A BLOWOUT WAITING TO HAPPEN. >>Reporter: WE CALL PAYLESS, THEY SEND A TOW TRUCK FOR THE CAR. >>THE MECHANIC SAID IT WASN’T SAFE TO DRIVE. >>Reporter: BACK AT THE OFFICE THE PRODUCERS GET PUSHBACK. >>ONE MECHANIC SAID THE CAR SHOULDN’T BE ON THE ROAD. >>YOU HAVE DROVE IT. >>Reporter: A MANAGER INTERVENES. SHE GIVES US A FULL REFUND. THE PAYLESS CORPORATE OFFICE TOLD US THE PYRE PROBLEM YOU DESCRIBE IS HIGHLY UNUSUAL, SAFETY IS THE TOP PRIORITY, AND WE HAVE FOLLOWED UP WITH A SUPERVISOR AT THAT LOCATION. BUT IT’S THE NEWARK LOCATION WHERE WE HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT EXTRA FEES. WE GO IN WITHOUT A RESERVATION AND ASK FOR NO EXTRA FEES. BUT WE NOTICE THE LOSS DAMAGE WAIVER COMES WITH THE RENTAL.>>IT’S MANDATORY?>>IT COMES WITH THE TOTAL, YES.>>Reporter: THE CONTRACT SAYS IT’S OPTIONAL. WE SIGNED WITH A $29 DAILY INSURANCE FEE, PLUS A DAILY $5.99 ROADSIDE SERVICE FEE THAT CHARGE ALSO APPEARS TO BE OPTIONAL ON THE PAYLESS WEBSITE. WE ASK ABOUT THE CHARGES. THE MANAGER SAYS WE GOT A DEAL.>>NOW IF WE RATE SHOP AND WE GIVE YOU THE ACTUAL RATE, IT ACTUALLY INCREASES. IF I HAPPEN TO ALTER ANYTHING IT INCREASES YOUR PRICE, UNFORTUNATELY. >>Reporter: WE’RE GOING TO TRY TO RENT ANOTHER CAR AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS. WE SEND TWO PRODUCERS BACK TO THAT SAME NEWARK LOCATION WHO EACH WANT TO RENT AN ECONOMY CAR WITH TWO DAYS NO EXTRA FEES. SHANNON RESERVED ONLINE FOR A QUOTE OF $138. SARAH WALKS UP WITHOUT A RESERVATION.>>I DON’T WANT ANY EXTRA CHARGES ON IT, THOUGH.>>Reporter: BUT WHEN SARAH TRIES TO REMOVE THAT INSURANCE, WE GET A DIFFERENT TAKE FROM OUR LAST EXCHANGE. WHEN THEY SAID THEY COULD TAKE AWAY THE INSURANCE WHILE INCREASING THE RATE.>>WE CAN’T TAKE IT OUT, IT’S INCLUDED IN THE RATE. >>THERE’S NO WAY TO GET RID OF THAT? WHAT IF I PAY A DIFFERENT, A HIGHER RATE?>>THERE’S NO RATE — WE CAN’T CHARGE YOU A HIGHER RATE. >>Reporter: SARAH PASSES ON THE RENTAL. NEXT UP, SHANNON WITH THE RESERVATION. PAYLESS TELLS HER THEY DON’T HAVE ANY ECONOMY CARS AVAILABLE, DESPITE HER RESERVATION. THAT NEVER CAME UP WITH SARAH.>>ALL I HAVE IS A FULL-SIZED SUV. IT’S ACTUALLY GOING TO BE A DIFFERENCE OF $25 A DAY. >>Reporter: $25 A DAY MORE? BUT WAIT. SHE RESERVED ECONOMY. AND THEIR OWN WEBSITE SAYS IF THEY DON’T HAVE THAT CAR AVAILABLE YOU’LL GET AN UPGRADE AT NO EXTRA COST. AND SHE’S CHARGED THAT DAILY ROADSIDE SERVICE FEE OF $5.99 WITH NO OPTION TO DECLINE. A $138 QUOTE ULTIMATELY JUMPS TO $216. WHAT DO YOU THINK PEOPLE SHOULD DO TO AVOID SOMETHING LIKE THIS HAPPENING TO THEM?>>LOOK FOR A RENTAL CAR COMPANY THAT YOU CAN TRUST. THAT HAS A GOOD GRADE WITH THE BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU. MAKE AN EDUCATED DECISION. DON’T BASE YOUR PURCHASE DECISION SOLELY ON THE PRICE OF THE VEHICLE.>>Reporter: AFTER REPEATEDLY DEINING OUR REQUEST FOR AN INTERVIEW, PAYLESS SENT A STATEMENT SAYING THEY COULD NOT COMMENT ON THE PENDING LITIGATION. AS FOR OUR EXPERIENCES THEY SAID, WE ARE CONCERNED ABOUT ANY NEGATIVE RENTAL EXPERIENCES THAT YOU MAY HAVE HAD AT PAYLESS. WE ALWAYS STRIVE TO PROVIDE CUSTOMERS WITH A POSITIVE RENTAL EXPERIENCE. WE ARE INVESTIGATING YOUR CONCERNS WITH YOUR EXPERIENCES TO ENSURE THAT OUR EMPLOYEES’ STATEMENTS AND CONDUCT ALWAYS REMAIN CONSISTENT WITH OUR POLICIES AND PROCEDURES.” BUT RICHARD ALEXANDER IS STILL LOOKING FOR A BETTER EXPLANATION. >>I JUST THINK IT’S RIDICULOUS.>>Reporter: FOR “NIGHTLINE,” I’M GEO BENITEZ IN NEWARK, NEW JERSEY.>>>WE WANT TO THANK YOU FOR WATCHING ABC NEWS TONIGHT AND REMIND YOU WE’RE ONLINE 24/7 AT ABCNEWS.COM AND ON OUR “NIGHTLINE” FACEBOOK