“M y daughter drove a Thrifty rental car on two toll roads in a single day. Thrifty is charging us $90 in fees, $15 for each gantry she drove under. Literal highway robbery.”
That complaint posted by FlyerTalk member dhacker is only one in the latest of a litany of complaints pertaining to electronic tolls for motorists — to the point where the word gantry is considered negative.
“I get hung up on not offering the EZ-Pass discount. I understand Budget $4 a day max $16 (or whatever) but they charge for the use of electronic tolls but the CASH price of the toll without the EZ-Pass discount is also charged.” FlyerTalk member Brighton Line then continued with this statement: “For Verrazano Bridge in NYC that is $16 instead of $11.08, other MTA crossing $8 compared to $5.54, nice little extra for their pocket (or the company they use to process the toll).”
…and the pain of electronic tolls continues to be felt by more and more FlyerTalk members.
Are Fees Out of Control for Electronic Tolls Using Rental Cars?
Paying tolls was already inconvenient — whether you rented or owned a vehicle: having to stop and fish for change, which delayed getting you to your destination…
…but although the advent of electronic tolls eliminated the delay and inconvenience while driving, it added a host of other inconveniences — such as having an account to regularly monitor to ensure that you are paying the correct amount of tolls. With all of the frequent travel loyalty programs, banking relationships, utilities and other accounts you are already managing, the last thing you need is yet another account to manage.
Now rental car companies are attempting to cash in on electronic tolls as a profit opportunity. Not only do some of them charge seemingly exorbitant fees; but they also charge for things which for them are pure profit — such as billing the cash price of a toll rather than the reduced price of the transponder you are already renting with your rental car…
…and if the authority which operates and manages the highway on which electronic toll gantries are installed does not receive its toll money from you, you could potential owe or pay stiff fines — such as $17,000.00 for $36.00 in unpaid tolls in one extreme case; or $45.00 for fewer than $2.75 in unpaid tolls.
I am usually successful in avoiding tolls — electronic or otherwise — but that practice is becoming increasingly difficult.
Some places are easier to avoid tolls than others: for example, if you are driving in Dubai and do not want to pay any electronic tolls which are cashless, simply avoid Highway E11 — which is also known as Sheikh Zayed Road. That was rather easy for me, as there are alternate highways and roads which can be used.
However, I found avoiding electronic tolls in South Africa — which have been referred to as “economic apartheid” — to be more difficult; but I managed to be successful for the most part despite driving all over the southeastern part of the country.
You can use a global positioning system software or devices to help navigate your way around tolls in real time; or you can use Google Maps as an option to avoid tolls, as shown in the screen shot below…
…but be aware that Google Maps is not always accurate; so do your homework. Most highways with tolls have their own Internet web sites where you can conduct some research pertaining to additional information about tolls which are charged to motorists.
If you want to take toll roads but do not want to pay the fees rental car companies are charging, consider renting or purchasing a transponder or other equipment from the authority which operates and manages the toll road instead of using the one offered by the rental car company.
I have already expressed my 35 cents worth of my opinion pertaining to tolls in general — but especially with regard to electronic tolls, as they can be an expensive proposition on their own…
…but the practice of rental car companies attempt to gouge customers in ways similar to airlines with carrier-imposed fees and lodging companies with mandatory resort fees is outrageous and unacceptable, in my opinion. I am sure that rental car companies can get by and still bring in increased revenue from the advent of electronic tolls without having to resort to fees which border on usurious.
In other words, renting cars and using them on highways equipped with electronic toll gantries should not take a toll on you.
Rental car companies, airlines and lodging companies are in business to profit. I get that; and I understand that they are within the law and not breaking it — at least, as far as I know. However, taking advantage of customers by pouring on the fees — in some cases, hoping the customer does not notice them when they seem to be hidden — is a great way to alienate them when they have a choice…
…especially when the time comes where the economy falters — and that will happen eventually — and instead of having a legion of loyal customers who will stick with them through those bad times, they might be required to “give away the store” by offering deals they would not currently offer.
It has happened before; and if this egregious behavior continues, it will happen again…
…so I will ask you: should I post an article — similar to this article pertaining to a list of hotel and resort properties which charge mandatory resort fees — which lists toll roads around the world; links to the authorities which operate and manage them; how much they cost; and how to avoid them?
Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.