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Rental cars taking a "toll" on Ohio drivers

Posted at 5:14 PM, Feb 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-25 17:14:56-05

Spring break is just around the corner and many are starting to plan for summer vacations, too. Pay attention to this story so you don't pay more during your stay like some Ohio drivers have run into recently.

John Lorincz from Avon enjoyed the vacation with his wife as they flew into Miami, Florida last year until he got home and got a letter in the mail.

"We had no idea where we were when we got those tolls and no one could tell us," Lorincz said.

He picked up a car from Dollar Rent a Car. He told us they asked him if he wanted to buy a $45 SunPass which is similar to Ohio’s EZ pass for any toll roads he would be driving on. Lorincz looked at his route and thought otherwise. "I declined that because I didn't think we would be driving on one anyway."

Three to four weeks after his vacation, a company working for Dollar said Lorincz and his wife had used a toll road and they owed 40 cents.  But, get this, the company added a $15 administration fee on top of the 40 cent toll charge.

"We paid that toll and figured that was the end of it," Lorincz told us. However, it turns out Lorincz got another 40 cent toll charge and another $15 administration fee. "They could have called me or sent me a letter if they're worried about the 80 cents and say ‘You owe 80 cents,’" said Lorincz.  “It's pretty frustrating."

Steve Pasek from Independence was pretty frustrated, too. "It gets aggravating when you're trying to talk to somebody and no one will talk to you and they keep circling you around," said Pasek. He told us after a recent vacation in the Florida Keys, he, too, got hit with administration fees. His tolls were $4.62 but his bill was for $94.62.

Both Pasek and Lorincz filed complaints with the Florida Attorney General. "I feel sorry for some of the people, maybe the elderly that just don't have the time or the energy to waste a call,” said Pasek. “They just probably paid a bill that I just seen was ridiculous."

In fact, just last year alone, the Florida AG's Office received 152 complaints surrounding rental cars and tolls and it's been investigating this since 2010.

It's not just Dollar named either. Hertz, Thrifty, Alamo and more are in there, too. Hertz Corporation, which operates the Dollar and Thrifty brands, said customers are clearly notified of the potential of the $15 admin fee when they decline the prepaid SunPass. Enterpirse Holding which operates Alamo, Enterprise and National Brands said it has been proactively trying to bring attention to this issue.  Plus, a newly proposed bill in Florida would require disclosure.

Pasek, Lorincz, and the many others who have filed complaints declining the Florida SunPass believe they were overcharged for something that wasn't thoroughly explained to them at the rental car counter. "They're less than honest,” said Lorincz. “They got to know this is happening to a lot of people."

In 2009 and 2010, the Florida Attorney General told companies to disclose these fees. They're in some contracts and in flyers but they're still catching drivers off guard.

A Hertz spokesperson said the company feels it's important for customers to understand the toll situation on roads they plan to travel.