Q: I'm contacting you about a $932 fee added to my car rental bill by Thrifty. The fee is for returning my rental vehicle to the wrong airport terminal.
When I made the reservation, I selected Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport as the return spot. The whole time, I had it in my head that we would return to the MSP main terminal. I never looked closely at the rental agreement. It didn't even occur to me there would be two rental locations. The terminals are 3.8 driving miles apart. Someone could have and should have said to me to drive the vehicle to the correct terminal. I would have been able and happy to do.
This is not the same kind of hardship for a car rental business as when a customer returns a vehicle across town or in a different city. This is the same MSP airport system. A $932 charge for such a short distance and honest mistake is too harsh and abusive. Can you help me get my money back? — Matt Oyen, Little Canada
A: This is such a strange case; I could hardly believe it. Your rental agreement said you would return your car to Terminal 2 at MSP. This was a one-way rental that you picked up in Santa Ana, Calif. So, it wasn't as if you intentionally returned the vehicle to the wrong place.
But this was the wrong terminal. Someone should have said something to you. And you did speak with someone who promised you a refund. But you didn't get the promise in writing, and the refund never came.
It's true, car rental companies routinely charge extra fees when you drop a vehicle off at the wrong location. But almost $1,000 for four miles seems excessive. That works out to $245 per mile. Come on!
By the time you contacted me, you had already reached out to the Minnesota attorney general's office and contacted a lawyer. A lawyer from the attorney general's office called you back right away and seemed interested in helping you. The lawyer would have cost more than your claim was worth.
But you're not out of luck. I provided you with executive contacts at Thrifty and Hertz (Hertz owns Thrifty) at elliott.org. I recommended that you send a brief, polite e-mail, explaining your situation and everything you'd done to resolve this problem.
After you contacted the Thrifty executives, a representative called you and promised a full refund of the $932 fee. This time, you got it.
Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit consumer organization. Contact him at elliott.org/help or firstname.lastname@example.org.