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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 118631
Experience:  Attorney experienced in commercial litigation.
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I rented a vehicle from Thrifty rent-a-car, in Las Vegas

Customer Question

I rented a vehicle from Thrifty rent-a-car, in Las Vegas Nevada, reserved to be returned at the same location. I was taking that vehicle on a road trip to Arizona, but on my way there I was arrested for speed excess of 90pmh, and the vehicle was impounded.
The rental car company had to go get the car out of the impound, and they had the vehicle towed to Phoenix, AZ. As a result, they changed the daily rate of the rental from $27 a day to $187 a day, over 5 days, resulting in a total bill of 1900 (including impound and towing costs of about $500)
I believe that the daily rate increase is unjustified and unfair. The cost they are incurring as a result of dropping the car being dropped off at a different location is a fixed amount, a NOT proportional to the number of days I had the car, so I don't think it's fair for them to bill me in this manner.
furthermore, they rate they have billed me for is extremely higher than what they normally bill for a one way rental from Las Vegas to Phoenix. I have pulled up their current rates for such a rental for many different dates, including major holidays, and some same day last minute bookings, and their rate never goes up above $50 a day.
It's very clear to me that this company is trying to take advantage of me being in this situation where I don't have control over what they charge me, and they are just charging me whatever they want. I've tried calling them and begging to adjust the rate, but they lady on the phone was very unsympathetic.
The bill has not been paid because my credit card detected the charge as fraud and rejected it, so they are going to send it to collection.
I understand that this is their policy, but does the law protect consumers against unfair policies? I mean what if they had charged me something even more ridiculous, like $1000 a day, would the law just stand by and let that happen? Where do we draw the line?
If I want to fight this in small claims court, would I have to pay it first and then try to get my money back? Or can I just take this to court to have them adjust the bill? Also, can I open the case in Nevada, or would I have to do this in the Oklahoma where their headquarters is?
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 11 months ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
You can sue in court for breach of contract and not pay, but read that contract well, because their contract has a clause that if any criminal offense is committed in the vehicle the renter can be liable for full rental costs and costs of recovery of the vehicle and with that clause that is what they will rely upon to justify their charges. You would have to argue the charges are unreasonable and you should only pay the daily contract rate plus costs of retrieving the car from impound (you will be liable for those as you were the one arrested for speeding).
You can file against them in NV Small claims and you would have to prove the fees excessive and argue breach of contract.
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Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Ok the reason I asked whether I should pay, then go to small claims to get money back, or not pay, and go to small claims to have them readjust the rates, is that I read somewhere that I can only take someone to small claims if they owe me money, and the only thing the judge can do is order them to pay me, not perform an action.Is this statement accurate?
Considering that, could I still go with Oprion B, which is obviously preferable.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 11 months ago.
Thank you for your reply. Sorry for the delay but when a customer clicks on opt out it prevents expert from responding to customers, so please just use REPLY.
Most people do not pay because they simply do not have the money to put up, but yes small claims can award money judgments and you are suing them for breach of contract and you will have to pay them SOMETHING, but just not what they claim you owe them. So in a sense small claims is actually awarding money damages.
So paying up front is not necessary, you would sue saying I owe $800 and not $1900 and ask the court to order the proper payment is what happens.