Avis Cannot Bury Additional Fees in its Contract

August 20, 2013

Avis's car rental agreement provided that the renter would be charged the non-discounted rate for E-Z Pass toll usage. In its provisions dealing with rental charges, Avis made no mention of an additional $2.50 fee, assessed daily, for the renter's E-Z Pass use. When Avis demanded that the renter pay that daily fee, the renter refused. Instead, he sued Avis and sought class action status. The renter claimed that Avis breached the rental agreement and argued that Avis's conduct violated New York State's consumer protection statutes.

In denying Avis's request to dismiss the case, the court emphasized that while the font type of the language addressing this daily fee satisfied the statutory minimum, the fact that Avis disclosed the $2.50 fee in its paragraph titled "Collections," where Avis detailed its rights in the event of a renter's non-payment and not in the "Rental Charges" section, where all of the other rental charges are addressed, could be misleading to the consumer and precluded dismissal of the lawsuit.