Returning your rental car with a "full" tank

Here’s something to be wary of… at least with Dollar Rentacar.

I returned the car I rented and was charged about $30 for fuel. In looking at the fineprint I now see the requirement to provide a receipt from a gas station within 10 miles.

If that’s new or unique to Dollar you’d think that they would make it clear when you pick the vehicle up. They didn’t…nor did anyone ask for a receipt when we dropped off the car.

I had filled it up about 12 miles away the night before. I’m not clear on what triggered the charge…their discovery that it was low by 12 miles worth of gas or not giving them a receipt.

Don’t get me wrong… I think that it is a reasonable policy as long as it is made clear.

If you want to fight it, I’d email them and tell them you’ve 'rented cars many, many times over the past few years as I am a very frequent traveler" then go on to say that you’ve never seen this policy in the past. Next, go to the websites of Enterprise, Avis, Budget and anyone else you can think of and Copy/Paste their policy for returning the car. Apologize and say something like “I’m sorry, I just assumed it was the same with you, like I said I’ve rented many times [even if you haven’t] and this is how I’ve always done it. You said yourself it was ‘12 miles less then full’ so it’s not like I returned it a quarter or a half down and as for the receipt, I was not told to bring it back when I picked up the car and I was not asked for it when I dropped the car off.”

I would then go on to say…“Is there anyway you could refund the $30 I was charged for this, if you can, I’d be happy to continue using you, the prices were great and the car was nice. Please let me know if there’s anything you can do to help me out here, I know you have to draw the line somewhere, but $30 is a lot to charge for 2 miles worth of gas.”

I might even throw in “I feel like this may have been on purpose, someone at the desk should have asked for my receipt. How many people filled up at the gas station across the street and don’t turn in their receipt and get charged $30? On top of that if I had handed the clerk my receipt he could have mentioned your policy to me and I would have been more then happy to drive to the gas station across the street and put literally $1.00’s worth of gas in the car to save the $30.00 charge” But you might save this for after they decline your request, it’s going to make them defensive.

But yeah, send them an email, tell them you travel a lot, they might reverse it.
ETA, none of this’ll work if Enterprise/Avis etc all of the same policy (which they may, I have no idea).

I’ve never been charged before, but I have seen them ask for a receipt before. Not sure which companies though. I did have one that wanted a receipt within like 5 miles of the airport, and of course gas was way more expensive. I’ve learned to fill up the day before then just put a gallon or so in it near the airport.

I would send them an email and ask them why they are charging you if they didn’t ask for the receipt. Especially if it’s full. Though I wouldn’t say anything about it being 12 miles away, just offer to send them a copy of the receipt and go from there.

Was this at Houston Intercontinental, by any chance?

That’s the only place I’ve ever been asked for a receipt, and it was nearly 20 years ago. Since then, I generally put it in my shirt pocket but it’s never come up again. My theory was that it would be a natural concern at airports like IAH, DEN, or IAD that are really remote from ordinary freeway services, where you only have one “airport” gas station, and savvy travelers know it charges whatever the market will bear.

I looked around online to try to find other places polices and couldn’t find them online, however I did find some forum discussions that were similar to this. One person simply called up and said “You know as well as I do that the tank was full when I brought the car and if you don’t reverse the charge I’ll dispute it with my credit card company” when the person said “I’ll have to talk to my manager on Monday” he disputed it right away, got hit money back and never heard another word.

But this is different since it’s on a contract that you signed. Still, I’d email them with something along the lines of what I said. At best they give you the $30 back, at worst they don’t. If you don’t email or call them you’re guaranteed to not get your money back.

Wait. Hold your horses.

Do not send them an email admitting that you filled up 12 miles away.

I am not clear from your OP about the exact sequence of events. How did you find out your were being charged $30 for gas? Was this on the receipt when returned the car? Did you just leave the car without waiting for a receipt and later got a receipt in the mail? Did they later out of the blue send you mail telling you that they were charging you an extra $30?

If you got a receipt at the time you returned it, did you question the $30 charge?

This may just be a clerical error. Whoever was checking in your car could have just pressed the wrong button. Don’t begin your negotiation by giving them ammunition to use against you. Call them. Start with “this must be some kind of error, I bought gas just before I returned the car and it was full.” Don’t start by admitting you violated the 10 mile rule. There is a good chance they may just settle it right there. If they refuse, then escalate bit by bit. “I told the check-in clerk I bought gas… He didn’t ask me for a receipt… Sure I have a receipt… I spend thousands of dollars a year and am a regular customer…” Do not ever admit you know that the gas station is 12 miles rather than 10 miles away.

Personally, I see these signs at rental places almost everywhere. I have never been asked for a receipt. The check-in person just says “Did you buy gas?” I say “yeah” and that’s it. I suspect it’s far more likely that the check-in person just hit the wrong button. Again, I emphasize, don’t assume that this has something to do with the receipt requirement and don’t start with the nuclear option and by handing them stuff to use against you.

I worked in the rental car industry back in the 1990s. The gas receipt wasn’t a corporate policy but I know a couple of managers, usually with a new case of ‘manageritis’ would occasionally implement a similar policy. Rental car companies used to make money from customers buying the fuel upfront at a reasonable price. However, the fuel price was then subject to tax. With rental car taxes increasing to 30-50% of the amount of the rental rate, this option became far less popular.

I’d say your chances of getting a refund are very high. Either contest the charge on your credit card or contract the rental office. Many credit card companies will automatically refund a charge for a low dollar amount if you’re not habitually filing claims. It cost them time and money to follow up on disputes.

Really, if there’s a requirement for proof of refueling, the person receiving the car should ask for it. Otherwise like was said, what keeps someone who filled up across the street from being charged?

Myself I have never been asked for a receipt nor charged this a posteriori.

Do not tell a business this unless you can back it up.
I often have people tell me they are regular/good/excellent customers when in fact they have not visited my facility in 4 years and 50,000 miles.
My response is to assume if they are lying about this, what else are they lying about?
Computers don’t forget. They will know how often you rent. So if the last time was 3 years ago don’t try to BS them that you are a frequent renter. It won’t go well.

Every time I’ve rented in the last two years (Ent, Avis, Budget), there was a prepay gas option. It was about the equiv of 7/8ths of a tank of the specific vehicle at a price about 30 cents less per gal than current city average. I take deal, and return it with a little less than 1/4 tank. Figure I come out even if not a tad ahead.

I’ve always filled up on the way to the Airport/Rental place. I don’t fill it the brim like I’d do with my car, just to the first “stop” of the hose.
I’ve never been asked for the receipt and would be insulted if I’d been. They always have someone check the gauge.

I’ve never rented a car with this policy, but I’ve only rented from Enterprise. Their policy is (was?) that the contract has a section where the employee marks the tank level (which the renter visually verifies), and you agree to bring it back at that level. I have never received a car with a full tank. Do they have a gas station on their premises? If not, I assume they also fill it up and put a couple miles on the tank first. I usually get the cars with 1/2 or 3/4 full. I just fill it up or add a little bit somewhere in the vicinity before returning. They also note any scratches and body damage and you sign off on it before renting. When you return it, you do a visual inspection with them and verify that you returned it with the same level gas and no additional damage. Isn’t this standard? If not, what’s to keep them from claiming you also scratched up the car in addition to not filling the tank?

Query the charge. Just a typo surely

I’ve never, ever, ever been asked for, or presented, a receipt for the gas I put into a rental car. Every single place I rent, I pull up in the car, the nice lot attendants do their thing with their little automated machine (which includes checking the gas gauge) and I’m on my way.

What does the receipt even prove? Only that you put some fuel into the car before you returned it. If I rented a car from an airport place with this policy, I’d fill up at a cheaper gas station on my way to return the car and then top off at the expensive gas station next to the airport. What good is a receipt for half a gallon of gas to the rental company?

Which works if you are driving the car far enough to use up 3/4 of a tank. In most cases I drive it from the airport to the hotel to the place I’m visiting and back, and don’t use nearly this much.

I have been asked for a receipt once - I forget which company, but not a biggie. I usually rent on a corporate contract and while I do need to fill it up, I’ve never been asked at these times.

In my experience (over a dozen rentals per year, all over the country, different providers), this has become a thing in the past three years or so. Avis at ORD, as one example, now requests a receipt for rentals where the odometer has moved less than 75 miles.

I usually have the receipt for business reasons anyway, but sometimes I forget to press “yes for receipt” or the printer is broken or whatever, and I just play dumb when they ask for it. (“Oh, I filled up at <place>, but I didn’t know I needed a receipt.”) I haven’t been blindsided by a charge in any case, though.

It’s been common practice since early 90’s to require a car returned with a full tank, or they do you a “service” and fill it at about $2/gal over the going rate – a real ripoff. Or a fixed fee, equivalent to filling an empty tank at exorbitant rates.

I have rented where the rental form is marked with the current level and you are expected to return it at that level (or else big charge).

But in all cases, while I have kept receipts due to having heard it mentioned, nobody ever asked for a receipt. They’ll often ask “Is the tank full” or more likely they’ll know thanks to the person who comes out with the little wireless handheld gizmo.

The problem is, now it’s too late. The car has been rented to someone else; they can’t check your claim that you filled it. Either you chose the “drop your papers and go” method or they rang it up and you didn’t pay attention until later. Either way, it’s worth a try to call and ask for it to be corrected.

I agree with whoever said to simply call and ask for what looks like an error to be fixed.

I’ve rented hundreds of times for business, and the only time I’ve ever been asked for a receipt was when I had driven very few miles. They had a policy that if you’d driven less than some number of miles, which I have forgotten, they wanted to see a receipt, because most fuel gauges show full until you’ve driven 30 or 40 miles, and they didn’t want you to bring it back without adding gas just because you were in that window.

Fortunately I had a credit card receipt stuffed in my pocket so was OK, but they did not inform me of this policy on my way out with the car.

I know the horse has already escaped the barn on this one, but here’s what I had my clients do when I had a travel agency…

Take pictures of the car when you drop it off. Easier now than then, because no film is involved, and everyone has a camera on their phone. Take 40 seconds and snap the interior, exterior, and the miles and fuel gauge.

Then, when the car ends up with a cracked windshield or dented door later on, you tell them to bite your shiny metal ass and send them the pix.