The AutoSlash team has a bunch of great drivers. However, parking meters have caught us a few times while we weren't actively operating vehicles. When we get an uncontested parking ticket, we pay if off immediately at the "discounted" rate (before late fees kick in). Yet a recent class action settlement claims that Hertz was charging renters administration fees on parking tickets that were paid off before the due dates listed on the citations. So how did this class action lawsuit come to only address one rental car company?
We dislike seeing parking tickets like flags on our window screens.
Is this only a Hertz problem?
According to the class action settlement, it's a problem Hertz decided not to litigate. However, the original filing also included the Dollar and Thrifty subsidiaries and the company that processes citations on behalf of Dollar/Hertz/Thrifty -- American Traffic Solutions -- also processes tickets on behalf of Avis, Budget, Payless, ACE, and Royal through their RentalCarTicket.com subsidiary. So no, it wasn't necessarily just a Hertz problem -- the person filing the class action lawsuit had rented from Hertz. And the presence of an administration fee alone isn't a reason for a class action. All major rental car contracts specify that if a renter incurs a citation (unpaid toll, parking ticket, speed/red-light camera) during the rental, there will be an administration fee in addition to the citation that gets processed.
In Pauley v. Hertz, the claim wasn't that renters hadn't incurred parking tickets. The claim was that a subset of renters was promptly paying parking tickets before the published due dates and still incurring administration fees. And obviously, there's not much to "administer" when a citation is paid before it reached Hertz and/or ATS. The settlement class includes renters over a period of nine years who incurred parking tickets and paid them off by the due dates but still got dinged the administration fee -- those who paid the tickets late (or blew off the tickets) are still on the hook and get no relief.
“Settlement Class” means all persons who (a) rented a vehicle in the United States from Hertz; (b) were invoiced between April 1, 2008 and April 30, 2017 for an administrative or handling fee relating to a parking ticket and/or notice of violation issued to the rental vehicle; (c) paid the administrative or handling fee; (d) paid the amount due for the parking ticket or notice of violation on or before the due date; and (e) did not receive any form of refund or adjustment of the administrative or handling fee.
The total claim pool provided by Hertz is to be $2 million, of which 1/3rd will go to the attorneys. A quarter million dollars are set aside for administrative expenses. The remainder gives us an idea of the proposed class size -- there are funds to settle with between 54,000 and 108,000 renters, so this was a fairly frequent problem over that 9-year timeframe. The payout is expected to be $20 for renters who can prove (with a cancelled check, bank statement, credit card receipt, credit card statement, etc.) paying the parking ticket on time yet still incurring an administrative fee. The payout drops to $10 for those with valid claims but not able to provide documentation. If too many claims are filed, the payment will be decreased pro rata and if not enough claims are filed, the lawyers from both sides will decide what to do with the extra money*.
* This is a common provision in class action lawsuits. Usually, any leftover funds go to a charity or other similar initiative but I was recently surprised to see a $3 payout increase to $11.57.
Think you're eligible for this settlement or just curious about the case? Visit the claim administrator's website for more details and a claim form. If you're truly eligible, claims are due by the end of November 2017.
Class action lawsuits usually have one or more nice outcomes (for parties other than the attorneys in question). After this suit, ATS now proactively lists in their FAQs how to get out of an administration fee by proving that the underlying parking ticket was paid before due.
ATS now has an explicit means of appealing administration fees.