12/7/2007Texas: Toll Roads Create Rental Car Trap
Travelers who rent cars in Texas are being surprised by large bills when they find no way to pay for a toll road in cash.
Motorists traveling within Texas in rental cars are being caught in toll road traps that can cost hundreds of dollars in paperwork fees. KXAS-TV interviewed motorists caught by surprise after they traveled on toll roads that offered no cash payment options. Three trips on the Dallas North Tollway in a rented car, worth a total of $2.25 in tolls, turned into a bill for $197.25 for Adriana Martinez-Holtz.
"It was more than the cost of the rental at this point," Martinez-Holtz told KXAS.
After the North Texas Tollway Authority sent Advantage Rent-A-Car a $77.25 bill for the $2.25 in unpaid tolls, the rental car agency added its own fee of $120 to "process" the collection notice. The latter fee was disclosed in the fine print of the contract that Martinez-Holtz signed.
Like Martinez-Holtz, Jerry Martin drove on Highway 121 and found no way to pay the toll on this road that only accepted payment from an electronic transponder. Martin's single trip, worth $1.60, turned into a bill for $41.60.
"You're on the road," Martin told KXAS. "You have no option whatsoever once you've done it."
The Dollar/Thrifty rental car group condemned the lack of toll road payment options for its customers. Dollar charges a slightly smaller $25 fee for processing unpaid tolls.
"It is unfortunate that the highway authorities have taken away the cash option on these toll ways," the agency said in a statement. "It also puts car rental companies in the position of becoming the state's toll collectors."