Author Topic: Car rental fees - who should pay?  (Read 3554 times)

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loopyluna

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Car rental fees - who should pay?
« on: December 28, 2012, 06:21:36 PM »
This happened a few years ago, but I've always been a bit curious about it. It's a little long, but I wanted to be sure it had enough detail to make sense.

When I was in college, I didn't have my own car but instead signed up for a car share service where I could rent a car by the hour. If you returned the car late, even by a minute, you had to pay a rather hefty fee. If you need to extend a reservation, you can do it through text message. The service was great because my school was just far enough outside the city that getting around without wheels was a hassle. My friend Lucy went to the same school but did not drive. We had a mutual friend Allison who went to another school nearby; her school was maybe 15 minutes away by car without traffic or 2 hours away using public transportation. Lucy was closer friends with Allison than I was.

Lucy and Allison hatched a plan that Lucy and I needed to go visit Allison one afternoon. Lucy started talking to me about how inconvenient the train was; I took the hint and offered to drive us using the car share. I did not ask her to split the cost since I was okay absorbing the cost of a short rental to visit my friend. I reserved the car for three hours and made it very clear to Lucy that we would have to leave by such-and-such time so I could return the car on time. When I told her the time we needed to leave, I added a little extra to account for traffic. I emphasized that "leave" meant in the car and moving, not wrapping up our visit and wandering back to the car. Let's say the reservation expired at 1pm; I told her we needed to leave at 12:30. She understood my reasoning and agreed.

We drive over and have a lovely visit with Allison. We get lunch about a ten minute walk away from the parking garage. Allison knew what time we needed to leave. At 12:15, I started to clean up lunch trays and pack my things. At 12:20, I start to say my goodbyes, reminding Lucy about returning the car. Lucy hemmed and hawed but made no move to leave, even as I was standing up to go. I didn't know how to get back to the parking garage without Allison, and I didn't want to leave Lucy stranded; I could not just walk away. At 12:25, I say, "Allison, this has been a wonderful visit. We need to do it again sometime. Lucy, we're going to be late getting back if we don't go now." Lucy tells me to relax, that we still have plenty of time. I point out that lunchtime traffic on Saturdays can be unpredictable and no, we don't have plenty of time. We waste another five minutes arguing about whether or not we have time, while I keep edging closer and closer to the door. Finally, at 12:30 Lucy and Allison stand up and follow me out. We get to the car at 12:40. I apologize to Allison for seeming impatient, but we really do need to go. Lucy drags her feet a bit more, and I tell her, "I'm not paying a late fee for this car; get in." We finally roll out. If we don't hit traffic, we can get the car back on time.

What happens? We hit traffic of course, which is exactly why I allotted extra time, except my extra time was used up because Lucy was so slow leaving. I ask her to take my cell phone and text to extend the car reservation by half an hour, the minimum I can request. Once she has my phone, I start giving her instructions (which contact to text, what wording to use, etc.), but instead she bean dips me. Won't send the text. I can't do it while driving, and traffic is heavy enough that I can't safely pull over.

We reached the parking lot at 1:01, one minute late. I was optimistic that whatever tracking system the car used would see us as arriving on time. No such luck; I checked my car share account the next day, and sure enough, they'd hit me with a $50 fine.

The next time I saw Lucy, she started talking about what a great visit we'd had with Allison; I agreed but added that I was a little miffed we hadn't been able to leave on time. I told her about the late fee for the car, hoping she would recognize her role in the situation and offer to split it. Wrong--bean dip. I didn't know if I would be rude in asking her to pay half of the fine, so I let it drop.

Note that if we had been late because I got lost, I would have been okay paying the fine on my own. That would have been my responsibility and I would not have mentioned the fine, though I still would have asked her to send the text and would have been irritated if she didn't. In this particular case, I thought our being late was a direct result of her actions.

My questions:
Was she rude in dragging her feet so much when the time came to leave, even though she knew exactly why we needed to go at a certain time?
Was she rude for not sending the text, which would have prevented the fee in the first place? (preemptive--she knew how to use my phone)
Was I rude for telling her about the fine?
Would I have been rude asking her to pay half the fine?
Was she rude not to offer to pay half the fine, since she was responsible (delayed our departure, wouldn't send the text)?
Assuming I would not have been rude to ask, would she have been rude to refuse?

Lucy and I are still close friends, and neither of us bring up this incident. I'm not trying to solve some years-long argument over who was right and who was wrong; I'm really just curious. It's more of a thought exercise at this point than anything else.

JenJay

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Re: Car rental fees - who should pay?
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2012, 06:29:50 PM »
She was definitely rude to refuse to leave at the agreed upon time. I probably would have said "Returning the car late is a $50 fine, are you offering to pay it?" Bet that would have got her buns up and moving.  :-\

I don't understand why she refused to send the text. That's just odd.

I think you would have been okay asking her to pay half the fine, but I'm not surprised she didn't offer because it sounds like she was pretty inconsiderate of you to begin with. Did you ever drive her somewhere again?

Deetee

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Re: Car rental fees - who should pay?
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2012, 06:35:28 PM »
Yes, she was rude by not offering to pay, but you were a bit spineless. Instead of edging towards the door, just get up and say a firm goodbye and walk out. Then, when she refused to text and just bean dipped, you should have been very, very clear that not sending the text would cost her $50 (but that you were happy to pay the overage for the extra 30 minutes)

Hmmmmm

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Re: Car rental fees - who should pay?
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2012, 06:48:20 PM »
She was would and I would have told her she owed you $50 in late fees.

loopyluna

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Re: Car rental fees - who should pay?
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2012, 07:04:39 PM »
Deetee: I was definitely spineless in my youth. This particular experience was something of a turning point, since it was the first time my being a doormat ended up costing me money.

JenJay: I haven't driven her anywhere since then. These days she's more considerate in general than she used to be, but I still won't put myself in a position where she could do something like that again, however unintentional.

Dazi

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Re: Car rental fees - who should pay?
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2012, 07:09:30 PM »
She should pay it or at least offer to split it.  I wouldn't count on ever seeing a penny of it though.

But personally, I would have left her there.  She's an adult and could have found her way home.  I'm mean that way though.
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Winterlight

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Re: Car rental fees - who should pay?
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2012, 07:50:22 PM »
I think you could have told her that if it wasn't back in time, she would be paying the fine. However, that's hindsight.

Was she rude in dragging her feet so much when the time came to leave, even though she knew exactly why we needed to go at a certain time? Very. She cost you that fine because of it.
Was she rude for not sending the text, which would have prevented the fee in the first place? (preemptive--she knew how to use my phone) Rude and kind of weird- why did she refuse?
Was I rude for telling her about the fine? No.
Would I have been rude asking her to pay half the fine? No.
Was she rude not to offer to pay half the fine, since she was responsible (delayed our departure, wouldn't send the text)? I think yes.
Assuming I would not have been rude to ask, would she have been rude to refuse? She'd have been lucky you weren't asking for all of it. I think the friendship would take a big hit if she did say no.

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Of whom you speak,
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VorFemme

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Re: Car rental fees - who should pay?
« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2012, 08:57:19 PM »
She was very rude for dragging her feet and refusing to send the text to resolve the situation without a fine.

Knowing how I love to talk - I would have set up a four hour rental but only told her about a three hour rental, figuring overpaying the rental was cheaper than a late fee.  But I would still have been insisting that we get out of the lunch by the same time, because I've seen how everyone drags their feet in leaving to get just five more minutes of chatting (Ogden Nash wrote a humorous poem about women being the stronger sex as they stand in high heels, girdles, and hosiery to chat for thirty minutes or longer AFTER they start to say "goodby" - sounds like he'd met Lucy's mother or grandmother.....).
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TomatoBunny

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Re: Car rental fees - who should pay?
« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2012, 08:59:29 PM »
Ok, I'm not sure how relevant this thought is, but what popped out at me was this; Was there any discussion between you and Lucy (and/or Allison) about how long the visit would be? I see you reserved the car for 3hrs, it seems there was an hour of driving involved (30mins each way), so it was a 2hr visit/lunch. Did Lucy expect it to be longer? Make a day of it or something?

Of course it was 'your' car, your driving effort and such, so ultimately you could choose where you drove and for how long, but I was just wondering if this part was communicated to Lucy prior to walking out the door to meet Allison?

Regardless, Lucy agreed to the terms you said, so she was rude not to leave when she had agreed to. Not sending the text was very strange. Telling her about the fine was good, you had told her there would be one afterall, and I feel that she should have offered to pay the entire fine, since she fully caused you to get it, by not leaving when you said AND not being bothered to send a simple text to prevent it. The whole not sending a text thing is making my brain hurt, to be honest. :-\

MrTango

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Re: Car rental fees - who should pay?
« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2012, 09:23:01 PM »
She should pay it or at least offer to split it.  I wouldn't count on ever seeing a penny of it though.

But personally, I would have left her there.  She's an adult and could have found her way home.  I'm mean that way though.

The bolded is absolutely right: Tell her that you're leaving now and that if she wants a ride back she needs to come with you.  Then go.

strawbabies

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Re: Car rental fees - who should pay?
« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2012, 10:38:19 PM »
I don't understand how you couldn't have found a way to get back to the garage by yourself or without Allison's help.  Because I would have walked out of the restaurant when Lucy wouldn't leave.

JoieGirl7

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Re: Car rental fees - who should pay?
« Reply #11 on: December 28, 2012, 11:16:22 PM »
Since you could not get her to leave with you and did not know where the car park was, then the thing you should have done was text to extend the reservation as soon as you got into the car.

I don't know why you didn't do that.  When faced with the choice between a little extra money and getting hit with a $50 fine, you err on the side of a little extra money.
 
You didn't even have an agreement in place for her to split the cost of the car at all so you really didn't have a leg to stand on in getting her to pay the late fee.  You rented the car, you parked it and you were responsible--completely.
 
You also should have taken note of where you parked the car.
 
So, while I don't condone her dragging her feet apparently knowing that it could cost you big time, the responsibility rested with you and you should have taken that much more care to avoid the fee.
 
After all, you warned her about the time, you tried to leave, etc.  Why not go the extra mile and extend before you get behind the wheel?

Raintree

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Re: Car rental fees - who should pay?
« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2012, 11:19:38 PM »
I'd have been livid with Lucy. Since she was relying on you for a ride, and you were generously paying for it, she was obligated to be ready to leave whenever you said. So what if she thought you were being paranoid and trying to leave ridiculously early - she is not the driver, she is getting a free ride, so she doesn't get to make the rules.

Yes she was rude, no you weren't rude, and in fact she should have paid the entire $50 fine as the lateness was entirely her doing. If you knew where the parking garage was, I'd have said you should have announced "your ride is leaving" and walked out, but you were kind of stuck - next time, do take careful note of where you parked!

In fact, while it's very nice of you to absorb the whole cost of the car rental to begin with, I'm staggered that Lucy happily accepted your generous offer and didn't offer to contribute anything at all. And that's BEFORE the $50 fine.

Raintree

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Re: Car rental fees - who should pay?
« Reply #13 on: December 28, 2012, 11:26:22 PM »
Since you could not get her to leave with you and did not know where the car park was, then the thing you should have done was text to extend the reservation as soon as you got into the car.

I don't know why you didn't do that.  When faced with the choice between a little extra money and getting hit with a $50 fine, you err on the side of a little extra money.
 
You didn't even have an agreement in place for her to split the cost of the car at all so you really didn't have a leg to stand on in getting her to pay the late fee.  You rented the car, you parked it and you were responsible--completely.
 
You also should have taken note of where you parked the car.
 
So, while I don't condone her dragging her feet apparently knowing that it could cost you big time, the responsibility rested with you and you should have taken that much more care to avoid the fee.
 
After all, you warned her about the time, you tried to leave, etc.  Why not go the extra mile and extend before you get behind the wheel?

What you say makes a lot of sense. I still think if the OP had gotten an extension, Lucy should have had to pay for that, since it was Lucy that refused to leave when told. Sure it would have been less than a fine - but the fact remains, Lucy was getting a free ride from the OP and seeing as the OP had decided she was willing to rent the car for 3 hours on her own dime, Lucy should have respected that and ponied up for either the fine or the extension. OP should definitely have taken more care to remember where the parking garage was, so she'd be able to say to Lucy "I'm leaving now" and then Lucy would have been left with the choice to get moving, NOW, or sit and chat an extra 10 minutes and take the train home, which would have taken her four times as long.

Lynn2000

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Re: Car rental fees - who should pay?
« Reply #14 on: December 28, 2012, 11:35:20 PM »
Interesting thoughts. I do think Lucy was rude, although I also agree that several of Raintree's suggestions would have prevented the situation. Hindsight being 20/20, there are often many ways that a situation could have been prevented or dealt with successfully, that aren't apparent or easy to implement at the time.

If the duration of the visit and the consequences of overstaying were made clear to Lucy in advance and she agreed to them, then I think she was rude for going against her agreement. If she didn't like the agreement she should've negotiated before things were set up. Or, she could've asked the OP, "Hey, I would really love to stay here and chat with Allison longer. Would you be willing to do that?" Which probably would've prompted the OP to say, "Sure, I can text the company to extend the time." And if the OP was also enjoying herself, maybe she would've been happy to pay for that extra time completely. By dragging her feet instead of coming out and saying what she wanted, and asking the OP if a way could be found to make it happen, Lucy muddied up the situation.
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