Rental car company used GPS to fine customer for speeding

:rolleyes: I’m an idiot. You’re going to cite def. 2, “denial of any authority or established order”.

Actually, I need to insert a little anecdote here.

Once you present a credit card as payment or security for a rental car, the rental company does indeed have the right to charge the card for any fees associated with the contract you signed at any time. I know this because I learned it the hard way.

When debit cards first hit the scene, I used mine to rent a car after I’d been in an accident (I believe that rental car companies no longer accept debit cards). Since the accident was not my fault, the other individual’s insurance company would ultimately foot the bill for my rental (which wound up being close to 6 weeks), but as I needed the car immediately and the insurance company wouldn’t pay until the claim was settled, I put the rental on my debit card.

I explained the situation to the rental agency and what I was told when I picked up the car was that I could take the car for a $75 deposit, and that the full amount would be charged to the insurance company when I returned the car, and I would be credited the $75 deposit. What actually happened is that the rental agency started taking the cost of the rental out of my account on a weekly basis. I didn’t realize this until they had taken over $500 and the overdraft notices started rolling in. Eleven of them by time I got it sorted out. At $25 per incident, this little adventure wound up costing me $275.

I called the bank to see if anything could be done about the fact that the rental agency had taken the money out of my account without telling me (and after stating that they’d only charge me $75) and they said “Read your rental agreement.” I did…and what it says is exactly what I stated at the beginning of this post. The rental contract specifically gives the agency the right to charge the card that you present for payment or deposit for the full cost off all fees as they’re accrued without further notice.

So, this practice is not limited to the GPS issue. If you don’t like it, you’d better read your rental agreements a little more carefully.

You never learned that when you sign your name on a contract you are expected to abide by it’s terms, or have penalties laid down on you as the contract specifies?

I think you missed more than a day of school.

That last response was probably more snotty that it should have been, I apologize.

I still don’t understand why you think this man shouldn’t pay. Nearly everyone so far agrees that it is a shitball policy. But he signed the contract.

As I see it, the central issue is that this poor slob GAVE the rental car company the right to charge his card when he signed the agreement. Whether anyone else thinks this is right and proper or not is moot. They’re not party to the contract, and their opinion in this case doesn’t matter. It also doesn’t mean the rest of Americans are sheep, any more than this guy’s driving habits mean we’re all speed-crazed demons behind the wheel.

The rental car company has a right to demand that a customer not abuse their property. The contract specified this, and specified how they would enforce infractions. This guy either didn’t read it, or forgot it, or thought it didn’t apply to him. He learned the hard way that he should read closer.

The next time you rent a car, look closely at the rental agreement, and go somewhere else if necessary. If enough people do this, the offending company will remove the GPS units.

And I will be renting a car next week, so I will be looking at the contract for this sort of thing.

*Originally posted by Homer *

I have to agree. Unfortunately, I see this story as two major mistakes on both the part of the company and the driver:

  1. The driver is a moron for not reading and understanding the entire contract. He did have every right to drop the pen and walk away, yet he chose to accept the contract. Whether he read it or not was his choice, and unfortunately for him (as the court will probably rule if this goes that far) is that it’s his dumbass fault.

  2. Since when does a private business or entity have authority to enforce established legal code? We have a word for this: vigilante (ie. when a person or group goes outside legal authorization to enforce a law). So now, we see that through fines and contracts, private companies can step beyond the bounds of the role of peace officer and can enforce the law. Keep in mind that it’s one thing to enforce a company’s policy but not a law. Shame on the company. My question to the company is just what do they do with the fine money? Is there a summons and fine to the rental company? No. Does it go on record that one of their cars was speeding? No, because that goes ot the driver. It is just a big money-making scam . . .

I also agree with pluto in that public backlash and hopefully a boycott of this company will end these sort of billing practices.

There’s nothing wrong with dropping the pen and walking away!

All right, but it’s still below 79. You know, I personaly like the higher speed limits, even though they increase the chances of me being wiped out in a car wreck.

But 75 . . .that’s kind of high for a speed limit!!!:frowning:

(Underlining mine)
It sounds like this is exactly what they did. If their policy stated that they have the right to charge the driver should he break the law, then they’re upholding their policy, not the law. As was said before, they never pulled him over, never gave him a speeding ticket, never arrested him. He broke their policy, and suffered their penalty. The company is not enforcing the law, they are enforcing their own policy. The fact that he broke the law as well as the policy is just another stupid thing he did and will have to deal with.

Reading the link, it says that the policy specifically states that ‘sustained speeds over 79 mph would be subject to fines’. This has nothing to do with the law. The speed limit could be 100 mph, but the driver, by agreeing to the contract, must abide by the rules the company sets down or be fined. The policy could say ‘You can’t have the windows rolled down for more than 5 minutes at a time’ and he would be expected to abide by it. It would be stupid, certainly, but that’s the policy he would have agreed to.

That said, I do think this guy has a case against the company, if they never warned him they would be using the GPS system to track his car. It doesn’t excuse his speeding, but he should at least know he’s being watched.

I respectfully disagree. He signed a contract with the clause in it, that stated this technology would be used. He set himself up for the fines, but I think he’s completely in the right for starting a precedent suit to keep this technology from being used for money generating scams.

I still disagree with you on the policy vs. law argument. I don’t see a company issuing a policy on the basis of speed for any legal reason. Why not fine all left turns or all shifts into neutral for that reason? It’s a money generating scam, and they are using the law to do it. . .

There is an issue of privacy here. . .

IIRC from my last driving test years ago, one is supposed to go with the flow of traffic, in spite of what posted speed limit signs say. Ideally, traffic goes pretty close to the posted speed limit, though that rarely seems to be the case on the freeways here in Silicon Valley. If the traffic isn’t at a crawl from congestion, it’s moving at 75 to 80 mph, and drops to 70 to 75 when the Highway Patrol is present. This is on zones posted at 65mph.

Furthermore, when merging into traffic, the law doesn’t state that one should go the posted speed limit, but rather that one should merge at a speed consistent with the flow of traffic in the interests of safety. It’s possible that the laws have changed since my youth, but I doubt that’s true in regards to that law, as it’s simply common sense not to pull into fast-moving traffic at a greatly reduced speed.

If the charges resulted from the guy maintaining this speed for periods of time greater then two minutes, then there must be hundreds of other people renting from this company being hit with similar charges. It’ll be interesting to see how long the rental company pursues this course of action.

I suppose it depends on whether the credit card charges for the violation of contract outweigh the money lost due to lost customers.

The case should and probably will be decided in the favor of the man who became alarmed when he realized that his conduct was being surreptitiously monitored from afar, solely for the purposes of imposing a financial penalty should his conduct not prove acceptable to some arbitrary code of conduct. Kudos for him for suing; I sure as hell would, the case is appalling. And I hope that venal, conniving rental company is driven out of business by the wave of public contempt it so richly deserves.

As I see it, it’s strictly a revenue-raising measure.

  1. The vast, vast, vast majority of accidents do not occur at high speeds but at low speeds. Claiming “Safety” is BS.
  2. Speeding is the most common of all crimes; we all do it, they all know it.
  3. Most if not all people rarely read the fine print of every rental car agreement they ever come across - provided that renting a car is a familiar if not routine procedure, for business trips etc. rather than a first-time novelty.

Most important of all is this: if it is OK for a rental car company to impose a fine for speeding based on information gleaned from a device hard-wired into the automobile itself, it is a very short leap before the government - which owns and operates the GPS system - decides it can collect all the proof it needs to convict hundreds of thousands of us every day of the week.

They could pop you for going 66 in a 55, 28 through a particular school zone at 4:57 on a Friday afternoon … name it; GPS-assisted law enforcement can be quite precise and really promises a sweeping revolution in ticket issuance. No GPS in your car? Well, old cars fade away and more and more new cars all the time come factory-equipped with it; once the culture becomes accustomed to having them around, it’s all over as far as your privacy is concerned.

If we envision a soiety where you and I make an agreement that if you do A to my property, I can do B to you, and when you do indeed do A, I am prevented from doing B, yes, we have anarchy.

Imagine the transaction orally:
“You understand that you are renting a car from me?”
“And that car has a GPS system on it. And we will monitor that GPS system, you agree to this, right?”
“Furthermore, and we want to be clear here, we will specifically monitor you to see if you travel above 80 mph for a two minute period. And each time you do that, we will charge $150 to your debit card. Do you agree to all this.”
“Are these the only conditions I can rent a car under?”
“Then I agree.”

Now, in the system proposed by Homer, company has no way of enforcing the conditions which were mutually agreed to when the car was rented. So, what do contracts mean in this land? The customer is entitled to the benefits, but can later change the conditions if he didn’t think they were fair?

That’s where I find fault with the driver! As Draconian as the terms of the contract are, he signed them and by that accepted the charges.

But by what means do you propose that I can watch you and charge you money even if it was safe to others to do so? I dare ask you this: Have you driven the New Jersey Turnpike? I have, 4 times in the past week. I have yet to come below 70MPH. My point is, what right does a company have in charging me to safely operate equipment in an environment that I feel is safe to do so in.

They trust me to safely operate equipment in a given environment. I support the driver in his operation on my state highways, because I have driven them and sympathize.


And to add to that, you probably signed a contract saying that any and all offensive content of your ISP sponsored website would be removed per investigation. Yet, I believe they don’t monitor what you look at on the web, because it’s none of their business.

Okay, rant done. I’m done venting. Thanks!

One of my defensive driving teachers told us that the ‘I was going with the flow of traffic’ defense for speeding is bunk. Anyway, I know that most people speed on certain highways, but I don’t think going less than 10 miles an hour slower than the majority fo the other traffic is at all dangerous, and even here in Texas I have never seen the traffic flow at speeds much higher than 90, usually averages around 5 over the limit (70 on most interstates, 75 on a few). I think they were generous in allowing him to go over 79 for up to two minutes.

Could you please explain why you believe this to be true?

Returning to the topic at hand:

Let me relate a little anctedote that amazingly just happened 30 minutes ago.

For the last week, I’ve been noticing that my homepages keep getting reset to no matter how many times I reset them to for Explorer and for Netscape. I thought it was a stupid little program similar to GoHip! Browser, but I learned just minutes ago what was actually happening.

Explorer crashed, as it often does, and took the system with it. Upon rebooting, I was greeted with this message.

Of course I clicked Yes, because FUCK THAT PROGRAM if it thinks it has a right to dominate my browsers by merit of it’s installation. A similar situation applies to GoHip! Browser, by visiting their homepage you agree to install and use GoHip! Browser and allow it to control your browser settings.

Now, does anyone who thinks that the company should retain a right to charge this gentleman also think that either of these situations above should be enforceable?

What if I had purchased Tetris 3000_is1, instead of one of my sisters downloading it free? Why should it have the right to control my browser settings simply because I had installed it? Continuing, it should have even less basis for forcing such an action since the product had been paid for. Regardless of the terms outlined in it’s EULA, I cannot see how any person could support such an argument.

Similarly, I cannot see how a person could legitimately support a situation where a company can bill a person at their will, for an amount chosen by them, at a number of times chosen by them, with terms chosen by them, simply because he has rented their vehicle. It logically does. not. follow.


A final, most diabolical, sign that America is fucked.

Oh, Homer, I’m willing to disagree with you on this GPS topic, but you gotta go and dis the Shaggs? Damn you!


Um, school zone speed limits are only enforced when the little lights are flashing. If they’re flashing at 4:57 on Friday afternoon, I pity the kids who are still in or just getting out of school.

Anyway, I still don’t see anything wrong with telling a person renting a car, “You don’t have the right to break the law in our car and we will charge you if you do.”

What’s that smell . . . I smell napalm. . . .

I would, except I have a bad feeling from the tone of your response that you have about 50 statistics in your back pocket that your are going to ambush me with if I give my reasons.

So let’s just say for now I personally am uncomfortable with driving at that speed, and that is coming from someone who habitually breaks the 55 and 60 and 65 mph posted speed limits. So if a speed demon like ME is afraid of the 75 mph speed limit . . .I’ll bet I’m not the only one that feels that way, and chalk it off to my opinion.

Allow me to to CYA and state that I am speaking for myself, and am merely speculating as to what other people think!
:wink: Good cover, right???