Re. Formal complaint regards rental charges
The letter was sent as a formal complaint, as per the Terms and Conditions of Rental, regards the charges levied under the Europcar rental agreement (Australia).
At the time of returning the car at the expiry of rental, a verbal complaint was made.
Complaint 1: Premium Location Surcharge (PLS) applied on return of the car at the end of the agreement – applied specifically to the Damage Liability Fee
The rental agreement signed “The Renter” at collection on the 10/04/09 was for a total charge of $409.78. The agreement included a damage liability fee of $3, 300 ($3, 000 + 10% GST), which was signed and accepted (copy attached – car odometer reading 23071).
On the return of the car, with some ‘Corner Scrape’ damage, the Damage Liability Fee suddenly became $3, 861 (($3, 300 + 17% PLS) + 10% GST thereon). This represents an additional fee of $561 which was not part of the Rental Agreement entered into.
There are four issues with this:-
- Under the terms of the Rental Agreement, there is no scope to add an additional Premium Location Surcharge upon the return of the car. The charges are those signed and accepted at the time the car is rented and these charges are acknowledged by signature. The PLS is to cover the transactional costs of doing business at an airport location (parking, use of airport premises). This does not include the costs associated with damage
- The PLS has no bearing on the Damage Liability Fee, which is separately set under the ‘Damage & Loss of Property’ clause of the agreement. It is not acceptable under commercial and contract law to change the nature and quantum of the terms and conditions of an agreement after the fact. We do not accept that an additional $561 fee is fair or just.
- PLS does not apply to a car returned to the airport but originally rented from another (non-premium) location. An additional fee should therefore not be applied when the car is returned.
- There was absolutely no indication given at the time of rental, verbal or written, that the Damage Liability Fee would be increased by the PLS should any damage occur. Therefore, again, these charges do not form part of the contractual terms agreed to at the time of rental.
We therefore request that the $561 is immediately refunded to the credit card associated with this agreement.
Complaint 2: Excessive Premium Location Surcharge (PLS)
The Premium Location Surcharge is a concession fee paid to Airport owners and is an addition to the costs associated with running your business. The Premium Location Surcharge varies between airport locations due to the contracted arrangements in place with Airport owners, but is typically 6% to 11%.
The current approximate PLS rates at airports across Australia are:
• Adelaide Airport 9% on all rental charges
• Brisbane Airport Not applicable
• Cairns Airport 9%
• Canberra Airport 10.4%
• Darwin Airport 10.5%
• Hobart Airport 7%
• Melbourne Airport 10%
• Perth Airport 10%
• Sydney Airport 11% costs
A PLS fee of 17% charged by Europcar at Melbourne airport is excessive and not in the interests of fair practice to the consumer.
This is particularly pertinent when the Webjet booking (www.webjet.com.au), under which the reservation was made, gave no indication of an additional PLS on top of the amount quoted at the time of booking.
I am referring this matter to Consumer Affairs Victoria for their opinion and further investigation.