NEWARK – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Division of Consumer Affairs (the “Division”) announced today that a discount car rental company operating out of Newark and JFK Airports has agreed to pay $80,000 in penalties, enter binding arbitration to resolve consumer complaints, and change its policies and practices following the Division’s investigation into a wide range of alleged fraudulent activity.
The Consent Order with Drivo LLC d/b/a Drivo Rent-A-Car (Drivo) resolves the Division’s allegations that Drivo violated New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act (CFA), including by:
- not accurately disclosing in its rental agreement all charges a consumer would have to pay if a rental vehicle was damaged;
- altering vehicle inspection records to falsely suggest consumers acknowledged damage to rental vehicles;
- falsifying accident or incident reports;
- billing different consumers for the same damage to the same rental vehicle;
- failing to disclose to existing damage on a rental vehicle to the consumer;
- posting deceptive and misleading online advertisements and statements; and
- failing to honor rental rates agreed upon through online reservations.
“Companies that employ shady tactics to unfairly profit from their customers will be held accountable,” said Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal.“We want drivers of rental cars in New Jersey to be confident that they aren’t being taken for a ride.”
“For many consumers, renting a car can be a stressful and confusing process that they need to navigate quickly in order to get to their next destination” said Paul Rodríguez, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “I am pleased this settlement goes beyond civil penalties and restitution by requiring company reform, it should serve as an example of how we will continue to enforce the laws in place to protect consumers from fraud.”
Under the Consent Order, Drivo agreed to reform the way it does business by among other things:
- Not posting deceptive or misleading advertisements;
- Not making statements that suggest partnerships with corporate entities when no such partnership exists;
- Maintaining uniform policies for the sale of rental vehicle insurance and additional merchandise;
- Accurately disclosing all the charges a consumer will be required to pay if a rental vehicle is damaged;
- Reporting all pre-existing damage to consumers for acknowledgement and signature at check-out, and ensuring they have an opportunity to fully inspect their rental vehicle prior to their departure;
- Notifying consumers in writing of any identified damage to the rental vehicle that occurred during the rental period; and
- Providing additional training to managers and employees on the check-out and check-in procedures of rental vehicles, as well as the sale of related services or products.
In addition, the Consent Order requires Drivo to enter into arbitration and abide by the decision of a neutral arbitrator to resolve certain consumer complaints not resolved by the Consent Order itself.
The total settlement includes $44,524.87 in civil penalties, $2,677.88 in restitution to consumers, $9,535.25 in investigative costs, and $23,262.00 in attorneys’ fees.
Investigator Luis Zuniga of the Division of Consumer Affairs' Office of Consumer Protection conducted this investigation.
Assistant Section Chief and Deputy Attorney General Jesse J. Sierant from the Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section within the Division of Law represented the State in this matter.
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file an online complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 to receive a complaint form by mail.
The mission of the Division of Consumer Affairs, within the Department of Law and Public Safety, is to protect the public from fraud, deceit, misrepresentation and professional misconduct in the sale of goods and services in New Jersey through education, advocacy, regulation and enforcement. The Division pursues its mission through its 51 professional and occupational boards that oversee 720,000 licensees in the state, its Regulated Business section that oversees 60,000 NJ registered businesses, as well as its Office of Consumer Protection, Bureau of Securities, Charities Registration section, Office of Weights and Measures, and Legalized Games of Chance section.