My latest brush with “convenience” came in the form of a sticker on the windshield of an Avis rental car in Norfolk, Va.: “Your car is enabled with etoll. Just drive through!” Smaller print revealed that we’d pay not just for the tolls but also $2.50 a day for every day we used the thing. Which we didn’t.
On the Avis website, there’s a FAQ about etoll, which asks:
Why I am being charged a $2.50 per rental day daily use fee?
The fee pays for the convenience of the program.
Ah, yes. Convenience. That explains it.
Here’s my advice: if you’re going to use toll roads in a rental car, bring your own E-ZPass or other electronic toll collection device and save the $2.50 daily charge.
This is by no means the worst “convenience” fee in the car rental industry, by the way, just one of the newest. At least the information about the charges was reasonably clear, unlike some of the pitches I’ve heard for buying a tank of gas in advance or for buying extra insurance.
Still, it adds to the feeling that I’m not so much a customer as the travel industry’s squeeze toy. Every time I travel, somebody squeezes a little tighter to see if any of my loose change will fall out.