Floridians say rental car company charges locals more

When Debbie Owens car was involved in a hit and run accident, she needed a rental car for two weeks while hers was being repaired.

[Web extra: Interview with Economy's operations manager]

She found a sweet deal on Orbitz with Economy Rent a Car. $11 per day for 12 days, $132 dollars before tax.

"That's why I picked it," Owens said.  "Because it was the cheapest rate."

But when she got to the counter with her reservation, she says that cheap rate blew up.

"When I got in there, it was over $400," because he said there was a fee."

The fee was because she's a Florida resident, according to Owens.

"I felt cheated, and I felt like they lied to me," she said.

After she contacted News 6, Investigator Louis Bolden went to Economy Rent A Car's website and made a reservation.
A full-size vehicle for three days was $150 online, but when Bolden got to the counter and showed his ID, he was told the price went up $75--$25 per day.

"The website says that online rates are for airport arriving, airport departing customers, that's just what it comes down to," Andrew Girges, told News 6 when asked why Floridians have to pay more. Girges says he is the operations manager.

On the company's website, under policies, it does address local renters.

"Guests who reside in Florida do not qualify for the rates offered and displayed online," according to the website.

During News 6's interview with Girges, Robert St. Juste, walked up and said the same thing happened to him.  The price went from $230 to $500 a week when he showed is ID, according to St. Juste.

"They're not giving you any concrete answer," St. Juste said.

News 6 checked with Hertz, Enterprise, Avis, Budget, Alamo, and Advantage and none of them charge Florida residents more.  So why does Economy?

"It is a higher risk to rent a car to Florida residents," Girges said.

"People take the car they go out of state they don't come back," he said.

"We've had people, believe it or not, involved in drive-by shootings," Girges said.

Drive by shootings? Owens says all she wanted was drive to work while her car was being repaired.

"I think its a rip-off," Owens said.  "I think its penalizing Floridians."

News 6 checked with a local attorney who says it is not illegal for the company to charge Floridians more, although it likely won't get them much local business.

About the Author: