Yet Another Rental Car With GPS Gives Out Secret Fines

from the all-in-the-fine-print dept

There have been stories before of rental car drivers getting slammed with unexpected bills when a secretive telematics device recorded them doing something wrong – whether speeding or driving out of state. Now, we have yet another case of a driver who got an unexpected bill – this one for thousands of dollars, after the rental car used a GPS tracking device to determine that he went out of state. While these sorts of fines may be perfectly legal (the details were in the fine print of the contract), they are helping to give such GPS tracking devices a bad name. Furthermore, a previous lawsuit on a similar issue found that the rental agency didn’t not clearly identify the potential for fines and that the vehicle was being tracked – which sounds like what happened in this case as well. The driver insists he had no idea and said he never hid the fact that he was taking the car out of state, but no one ever informed him that he was being tracked and fined for doing so. I would think that if this case went to court, the ruling would be similar. Tracking and fining drivers is perfectly legal – but it should be disclosed to drivers so they can make the choice knowingly.

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Comments on “Yet Another Rental Car With GPS Gives Out Secret Fines”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Technology = Liberation?

Amusing, isn’t it, how these supposedly liberating technologies keep getting turned into shackles? For instance: the internet, in it’s early days, was a peer-to-peer free-for-all, express your opinion, sell your stuff, download music, etc. What is it turning into now? Just another sales channel, with the added benefit of maintaining control of the item AFTER it has been purchased! How’s that, you say? OK, it’s happening now with downloadable music. With all this “Secure Computing Initiative” (translation: “Hey Hollywood, let’s get together and fleece the consumer – they’re too stupid to know the difference”) crap, what’s to keep this scenario from happening: you download a tune for 99 cents. Six months later, Tunes, Inc. informs you that their noble corporate officers have run off with 100 million bucks, so they will need to pass a small retroactive download fee along to you. Pay an extra two bucks for that song you downloaded, or they disable it – right on your own computer. So why the rant about downloadable music “fees”? How long will it be until GPS is used for these applications: drive too fast for too long (we’ll tell you what’s too fast and too long), and your car gets shut off. Drive where you’re not supposed to be (you live in town A, and you work in town B. Why were you in town F?), and your car gets shut off. Why don’t we all just change our names to Winston Smith right now (1984) and get it over with?

Andy (user link) says:


As far as I know the car we recently rented from thrifty didn’t have a gps in, but i think we were only allowed to take it into two, possibly three states. We had the car for three weeks and when we asked about this restriction were told not to worry about it…we put 4000 miles on the car which had done less than 2000 when we got it (so they probably didn’t need gps to figure we went out of state)

Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

Actually the fines are not “perfectly legal.” The general rule in contract law is that penalty clauses are unenforceable. You can have a provision that makes a party liable for actual damages to the other party if the contract is breached, and you can include in the contract a reasonable way to determine the amount of the damage. But a clause that imposes a penalty for violating the contract, just to discourage a violation, is not valid. I don’t know what sort of actual damage these rental companies think they’re incurring when a car is driven out of state or is speeding. (IAAL)

lulu bean says:

out of state tracking

so i rented a car to drive from ny to savannah georgia. the cars company offers unlimited miliage….well according to the contract unlimited to as far south as dc.
So i say that i am not going out of the sate, but drive the car to georgia any way. because of the unlimited mileage i also drive to western nc and tennessee as well.
well 2900 miles later i am dropping off my unlimited mileage car and the girl at the desk comes in and says there is a problem. too many miles.
i get irritated and say unlimited miles. she says you didnt stay in state and drive 2900 miles. i say i went every other day to rochester i was moving my mother.
she says she is going to get her boss to check the gps.
i say let me get my husband.
so we had to pay 25 cents a mile for every mile over their expected weekly unlimited miles of 1000 per week. It amounted to 200 bucks…but why isnt unlimited unlimited? and curse the gps.
now they never did actually check the gps, we fessed up and paid the dough…so i am not totally sure they could have actually done that. i believed they could have though.
As i read the internet version and the paper version of our contract…this is in the contract “addendum” which is handed to you as you leave the rental office. 13 new rrules including number 7..”REPOSSESSING THE VEHICLE BY REMOTE TRACKING DEVICES”….we have the right to monitor the Vehicle through remote trackingdevices or otherwise and locate, disable and repossess the Vehicle or otherwise at Your cost and without notice to you if it is being used in violation of the law, illegially parked, apparentlty abandoned, overdue, or is being used in breach of the geographic driving restrictions of driving agreement.

well…my bad-but i get the impression that they could be able to disable the vehicle if driven out of state.
we want to be luddites.

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