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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 41221
Experience:  Multiple jurisdictions, specialize in business/contract disputes, estate creation and administration.
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I am planning on renting an accessible van for my wheelchair

Customer Question

I am planning on renting an accessible van for my wheelchair bound husband, however why is it that van rentals for others are thousands of dollars less for other types of van rentals? I feel that this a discriminatory against those that choices are one or two to none. I thought that all vehicle rentals must accommodate the disable at the same price. I am going to Hawaii in late October and I was told that an accessible van would set me back over 798.00 per week. As I am not planning on buying the vehicle, I was wondering if in fact that I have to pay these over the top prices or is there in fact something more can be done? The island I will be visiting is Oahu.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Dimitry K., Esq. replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for your question. Please permit me to assist you with your concerns.

My apologies but this is not quite against the law. What you are describing is an issue of supply and demand rather than a violation of law. Please allow me to illustrate.

If someone is disabled, they are to some extent protected under the ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act). That keeps parties from discriminating based on impairment, or failing to provide reasonable accommodations, to name just the few most known examples. But that does not mean that the other party must somehow charge the disabled less for services. Because you are attempting to rent highly specialized and fairly uncommon vehicles, they will naturally be higher in value because they tend to not have as much opportunity to be rented out. That drives the rental price up because this is not an interchangeable vehicle but a specialized one. That permits the rental price to be potentially higher. To put it in perspective, a small sedan can be easily rented out to almost anyone, but this vehicle would only be rented for a specific purpose. That means that the sedan is far more likely to be rented and provide profit, while the van is more likely to remain un-rented and cost the business revenue. That is why when rented, it costs more. This is not discriminatory, this is purely business and is not a violation. It would be a violation if a disabled person would be charged a different rate for the same vehicle that someone who isn't disabled attempts to rent, but charging different rates for different vehicles is not a violation.

Good luck.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I thought that Budget was sued over a similar incident. I am not expecting to rent the van for free and I do recognize that the rental companies have a right to make a profit and I also recognize that there is a smaller market, but I was also informed that electric wheelchairs/scooters are were more that 350.00 a week. I know that tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry, but writing off even those with even a temporary disability seems foolish. While I do know that this is not illegal it does seem that I am being punished just because I do have a disablity. Is there nothing I could do or anyone I could talk to concerning these issues?
Expert:  Dimitry K., Esq. replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your follow-up. Just to be sure I did not miss anything, I pulled a search for Budget and other companies over this type of a claim and found no match. If they were sued, it was not successful since I did not find anything similar in caselaw.

It is not a punishment, it is simply a more expensive need. A person without a disability does not need a vehicle that has a lift or has specially made controls, all of which costs more money to maintain, upgrade, retrofit, and review. Please understand that I am not defending the companies, but what you can most definitely do is speak with their manager to see if a discount or other rates can be obtained. You can reach out to their corporate office with your concerns and request that they potentially investigate or offer lower rates. For a chance of good will many companies have been known to bed over backwards and provide with discounts or perks, solely so as to obtain a long-term client.

Good luck