I know, I know, it’s a good idea to refill the gas tank before returning the vehicle.
- But what if you have a 6am flight? You didn’t fill up the night before, aren’t sure whether gas stations will be open and you overslept anyway…
- And sometimes it isn’t worth refilling on your own anyway. Gas stations around the airport may be priced exorbitantly high, and rental companies may charge less than you realize to refill for you.
I find that National Car Rental usually wants about $5.65 a gallon or so from me to top off a tank if I don’t do it myself. That’s not cheap, but when I’m cutting it close and I haven’t driven a lot I can justify that.
But it’s a mistake to assume all rental car companies are the same. As I just learned.
Take that 6am flight and the car rental company is Budget. I got a receipt from them and learn that I was charged $77.01 to refill a tank on a Ford Fusion that was returned more than half full. Surely that was a mistake. So I contacted them.
Here’s their reply (emphasis mine):
Dear Mr. Leff,
Thank you for contacting the E-mail Customer Service team.
I am very sorry you were not advised of the cost associated with refueling our vehicle if not done prior to check in. Any time a customer returns the vehicle with less fuel than when it was rented, a refueling service charge is imposed; this service charge does not necessarily reflect current retail gas prices. This fee compensates Budget for the refueling service performed by Budget personnel in preparing the vehicle for the next rental.
The Ford Fusion holds 16.5 gallons and you were charged for 7.866GALS at $9.79 per gallon.
Our records show you were charged correctly, therefore, no adjustment is warranted.
Wow. $9.79 a gallon. That’s 73% more than I’m used. Not that I like the price I’m used to seeing, but in this case it was definitely worth it.
That’ll teach me to decide to rent from Budget when I think they’re cheaper, since for this particular trip they absolutely weren’t.