As the holiday season approaches, many people will rent cars to travel to friends and family around the country. Before you book, though, one New York regulator wants you to beware of a scheme used by rental car companies to overcharge on E-ZPass fees. 

E-ZPass is a cashless toll system that’s used widely throughout the northeast. According to a report released Sunday by Scott Stringer, the comptroller for New York City, these excessive fees can raise the already high-cost of New York tolls by 270 percent for a four-day round trip from New York City to upstate New York. 

“Rental car companies are sticking consumers with huge ‘convenience’ charges that turn E-Z Pass into ‘Expensive Pass’, and that’s bad news for the thousands of New Yorkers who are planning to rent a car to see family and friends this holiday season,” Stringer said in a statement Sunday. “Consumers shouldn’t have to choose between highway robbery and delays, congestion and inconvenience. It’s time for government to hit the brakes and force these companies to let all drivers use cashless toll systems without exorbitant fees.” 

EZPass A graphic from the office of New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer shows what various car rental companies add on as E-ZPass fees. Photo: Office of Scott Stringer

The report examined the business practices of 10 rental car companies in New York: Avis, Budget, Payless, Enterprise, National, Alamo, Advantage, Hertz, Thrifty and Dollar. All the companies charged additional daily fees for use of E-ZPass, ranging from $3.95 to $21.49, even on days when the E-ZPass tag was not used at all. The companies listed these charges as "convenience" fees. 

Two companies, Thrifty and Dollar Rent A Car, charged the most excessive fees, according to the report. In fact, in September, International Business Times investigated the sales practices of Dollar Rent A Car, which was acquired by Hertz in 2012 for $2.6 billion. The report found that the company’s business model “incentivizes employees to cross the line in pursuit of meeting high sales targets.”

“At this time of year, New Yorkers should be using their hard-earned money to put turkey on the table or go shopping on Black Friday,” Stringer said, noting that their money should not be used to "line the pockets of car rental companies."