NYC Pols Take on Rental Car Fees Based on Residence

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(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) Residents in some parts of New York City pay an additional fee--as much as $55 a day--to rent a car in the tri-state area because of their home address. The fee, charged by Dollar/Thrifty Rental Car, is determined not by where the car is rented, but by where the driver lives.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and other New York State elected officials held an event Wednesday calling attention to this practice and demanding that the company end the fees. Stringer said in a statement "it’s time for Thrifty and Dollar ... to halt this unconscionable practice once and for all. There’s only one way to describe these outrageous extra fees--and that’s price gouging.”

New York City residents of Manhattan and Staten Island pay no extra fee. Residents of Brooklyn pay $55 a day in additional fees, Bronx residents pay $53 a day and Queens residents pay $11 a day in extra fees.

In his statement, Stringer noted that many other car companies used to charge similar fees. As recently as 2006, Stringer said Hertz charged $56 for Bronx residents, $34 for Brooklyn residents, $15 for Queens residents and $3 for Manhattan residents. In fact New York City passed a law in 1992 banning the practice of residency-based fees for rental cars that was successfully challenged in court by Hertz, so the law remains unenforced.

Car rental industry analysts say it's not unusual for private companies to vary their rates in any number of way.

Calls to Dollar and Thrifty, part of a single corporation, were not returned.