My husband and I were told today at an Avis car rental counter in the Norfolk, Va., airport that we could pay in advance to have the tank refilled on return of the vehicle at the rate of $2.60 a gallon, the same as we’d pay at a gas station.
It sounded convenient, but the offer was both misleading and untrue.
It was misleading because the agent revealed only when I asked specifically that we’d be charged for a full tank of gas even if we brought the car back only half-empty. Deliberately or not, the initial offer was worded in a way that did not make this clear.
It was untrue because gas was selling near the airport for $2.47 a gallon.
Some car rental companies are getting a reputation for dealing aggressively with their customers and squeezing them relentlessly with additional charges that are not always thoroughly explained. While this experience was by no means the worst I’ve had, it did nothing to dispel the idea that this sector of the travel industry is sliding into some sharp practices.