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Car Hire - Beware

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Aberdeen, Scotland
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Car Hire - Beware

When in Tampa last week hiring our car the hire company tried to automatically add a Sunpass toll card (for toll charges) to our account - when my husband said he didn't want this, they said that there were roads that the majority of the roads now had cashless tolls and we wouldn't be able to use cash. The amount they were trying to add on was $7 per day. We stood our ground and said we didn't want the Sunpass - we drove from Tampa to Orlando return and around the Orlando area for 2 weeks and never saw one toll where you couldn't use cash. Surely this is mis-selling by the hire companies! So just as a word of caution for anyone who hasn't been before and gets the hard sell, you do not need the Sunpass no matter what they tell you!

Cocoa Beach, Florida
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for Cocoa Beach
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1. Re: Car Hire - Beware

It has been mentioned here before that companies like Thrifty and Dollar offer a toll "option" that isn't the best value for the typical tourist.The program does offer unlimited tolls for a fixed price, but unless you are on business and driving around most of the day, it is not worth the money.

There are some cash-only toll roads in Florida, including Tampa's Selmon Crosstown Expressway, which is not likely to be used to get to typical tourist destinations. Apparently, the push to sell the toll option is based more on the commission received by the counter representatives, not by the need of the customer.

Dollar and Thrifty both charge a $25 penalty if a customer declines the option and then uses a cash-free lane accidentally. If a driver is distracted and misses the signage to pull off to the right to pay a cash toll, it is possible to accidentally incur such penalties, and there have been reports of a few customers having penalties totaling over $100.

If you do pay cash, I recommend taking a few extra seconds to ask for a receipt to prove that you did pay in the case a malfunction causes your vehicle to be flagged as using a cashless lane.

Other rental companies have more reasonable toll options. Alamo, National and Enterprise only charge for actual tolls plus a daily fee of around $3 on days when the cashless toll feature is actually used.

The ability to avoid the cash lanes is helpful at busy times when there are queues for cash payment or the ability to use certain roads (especially in Miami) which do not offer cash payment. But, generally, the average tourist in Tampa and Orlando does not need the option.

edinburgh
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2. Re: Car Hire - Beware

This is one of many things they try to sell you when you pick up your car. It was my least favourite thing to do when I arrived; was go through the pitch the desk clerk, went through to get you to part with your hard earned money. I must admit to parting with some when I was "young and innocent" (or should I say gullible).

I have now joined 2 loyalty programs ( Dollar and Avis) so I now just go to the garage and avoid the Car Hire Desk.

Altamonte Springs...
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for St. Augustine
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3. Re: Car Hire - Beware

welshjock is correct. Join the loyalty programs in advance and make all these decisions before you arrive at the airport.

I "think" the only road in Tampa with cashless tolls is the Selmon Expressway, but by using the interstates, you can avoid it. In Orlando and the rest of Central Florida, there is absolutely no need for a SunPass.

If you are so inclined, complain about this sleazy practice via social media (Facebook and/or Twitter). You'll get prompt corporate attention.

UK
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for Florida
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4. Re: Car Hire - Beware

I agree that lying to the consumer in this way should be illegal, and good for you in standing your ground.

There are 2/3 cashless tolls I know of, the Selmon expwy mentionned and a special toll lane on I95 near Miami/Ft L, as well as the FL turnpike in Dade county.

Aberdeen, Scotland
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5. Re: Car Hire - Beware

What annoyed me the most was that they tried to lead you to believe that the majority of toll roads had cashless tolls and that it would be almost impossible to get anywhere without purchasing a Sunpass which is just a downright lie - luckily we have been to Orlando many times and knew this not to be true, but it would be a real shame if first timers to the area are conned in this way and pay money for something they do not need - they were just going to automatically add it with a throwaway comment of 'we'll just add a Sunpass to your rental' so if we hadn't challenged it we would have been ripped off!!!!

Altamonte Springs...
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for St. Augustine
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6. Re: Car Hire - Beware

PLEASE, for the sake of others, use social media to complain to corporate offices.

UK
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for Florida
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7. Re: Car Hire - Beware

I agree, they do monitor facebook and will respond.

They can even find out frm your agreement number, which clerk served you/lied to you

Graysville...
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8. Re: Car Hire - Beware

Thanks for the tip! Which car rental company did you use? I have been thinking about flying into TPA and staying a couple nights at a beach and then driving to Orlando and flying out of MCO. I know this if off the subject, but if you have any tips as to wether it is better to do it that way or rent from MCO, hit Orlando, then go to beach and return car at TPA? Price wise also. Thinking about going in October.

Edited: 16 April 2013, 17:51
UK
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for Florida
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9. Re: Car Hire - Beware

Hire prices tend to be based on demand, so you'd need to look at each airport and combine your flight and rental cost to wrk out the cheapest AP for your dates.

And start your own thread if you have further Q's

Aberdeen, Scotland
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10. Re: Car Hire - Beware

Car rental company was Dollar, but they all try to give the hard sell so make sure you're ready for it and don't let them sell you anything you don't need!

We flew in and out of Tampa that's why we hired from there but usually it's from MCO. Costs more usually to fly into one airport and out of another.