Hidden Charges at Car Rental Companies

Car Rental Companies in Costa Rica Hide Information from Clients, Government Study Reveals

A study by the Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio (MEIC), reveals that car rental companies hide important information from their clients.

The study was made to compare prices offered by 14 car rental companies in San José. However, the study turned to verifying if the prices offered to consumers was final price, like including insurance, deposits and additional charges like for extra time, exchange rates, etc.

The investigation took place during the past week and revealed that in many of the cases, the extra charges were not clearly spelled out to customers, especially in the area of the exchange rate being used.

In only 36% of the cases, the renter explained the additional charges like if the vehicle was returned to a location other than where it was rented. In many of the cases, the guarantee deposit was not clearly spelled out and some companies did not indicate the cost of the driver if the vehicle was rented with a driver or the extra charge if the vehicle was not returned on time.

According to the MEIC, only four of the fourteen companies complied with all the regulations.

The MEIC says that the rental companies are involved in “price war” and a difference of up to 57% in the price was found in the rental of a similar vehicle. The MEiC found that a small passenger vehicle renting for us$40 at one rental company could cost as much as us$57 at another. The same SUV costing us$98 at one car rental could cost us$146.35 at another.

The MEIC found that the rates published by the car rental companies are net, meaning they do not include the cost of insurance and other extras, like if renting a vehicle from the airport there is an additional 12% added to cost of the service.

The following is an MEIC publishing of the daily “net” prices offered by the various car rental companies:

Economy Sedan
  • Mapache: US$40.00
  • Avis: US$42.24
  • Toyota: US$45.99
  • Hertz: US$46.49
  • Tricolor: US$49.00
  • Alamo: US$50.95
  • Europcar: US$50.98
  • Sixt: US$51.75
  • Economy: US$53.00
  • Budget: US$55.90
  • National: US$56.35
  • Payless: US$59.11
  • Hola: US$62.00
  • Dollar: US$62.95
  • Economy: US$98.00
  • Tricolor: US$99.00
  • Mapache: US$100.00
  • Sixt: US$103.75
  • Budget: US$103.90
  • Avis: US$105.24
  • Hertz: US$106.49
  • Toyota: US$107.99
  • Payless: US$109.09
  • Europcar: US$121.98
  • Dollar: US$125.95
  • Alamo: US$125.95
  • Hola: US$138.00
  • National: US$146.34

The study found that many customers prefer to rent vehicles at the airport paying the 12% additional airport fee only to find that the vehicles are not at the airport but at the lot close to the airport, where they could have rented the vehicle for less. In case of Alamo and National, ANC is the franchise holder and though they share the same operations, their rental prices are different.

out up front and the terms and conditions of the guarantee deposit as well as traffic tickets and in the event of an accident or theft involving the vehicle.

July 17. 2007



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