Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hidden fees. . .does the buck stop here?

While booking a Hertz rental car for an upcoming road trip from Santa Barbara, California to Las Vegas, Nevada we were pleased to see that we would earn Alaska Airlines frequent flier miles.

As we read further we learned they do award points . . .for a price. Persons renting cars in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico are subject to a frequent flyer surcharge of 75-cents a day up to $5.25 per rental in order to be awarded those points. Now admittedly the amount it isn't astronomical. . .but let's see, don't they call those programs 'award' or 'loyalty' programs? Maybe they should be called Pay-for-Points programs?

With auto reserved (likely without those points), the research turned to accommodations. We are considering a stay near the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation area some 20 minutes outside Las Vegas. So, using our favorite site, Expedia, we found several possibilities including what seemed to be a good deal at the high-end Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa. Rooms rates were listed at $130 a night; admittedly, that's for a view toward The Strip, not of those nearby striking red rocks, but still, an okay price for this glitzy hotel. Reading through the rules we found it's $130 plus hotel fees of $24.99 a night, bringing the real price to $155 a night. Had they just said so, we may have booked it. Their additional 'fee' killed the deal.


  1. When I reserved a rental car for my Europe trip last fall, I discovered that at least some car rental companies (including Hertz) now have two-tiered pricing: A lower "pay-in-advance" (thanks for making us an interest-free loan, Mr. Customer) rate or a higher "pay-when-you-drive-it" price.

    Just for fun, I just checked out Hertz rates for a week's rental in Las Vegas in late March. The "pay now" rate wasn't available on all cars, but where I could get it, it only amounted to about $15/week and (without clearly spelling out the amount prior to final booking)there could be a "cancellation fee" (which might wipe out the $15 "savings" made by paying in advance).

    And, of course, there is the "base rate" that one is initially quoted, and the "total cost" after all of the taxes and fees are added in that one actually pays. For one economy class car I priced, the base rate was $123/week, after adding on the other fees, it jumped nearly $80 to $202. (These prices do not include the optional loss damage waiver fees).

  2. We got a taste of that "total cost" in Hawaii when Enterprise added the vehicle licensing fee, Honolulu county tas, Airport Concessionaire fee, Rent tax surcharge and Hawaii State General Excise tax. The 'base rate' had been a good deal. . .sigh. . .


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