Why didn’t Hertz give me time to appeal a fine?
I received a £30 penalty charge notice (PCN) plus a £42 admin fee from Hertz for an alleged bus lane contravention in my hire car. Because Hertz had already paid the fine before notifying me, I am unable to appeal it. I raised my complaint as far as the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA), which said that while it’s “best practice”, wherever possible, for a rental company to transfer liability to the hirer, there’s no legal or code-of-practice requirement.
Councils get to keep lots of invalid penalty fines and rental companies charge lots of excessive “admin fees”. This feels to me like a cartel.
The BVRLA, which requires member companies to sign up to a code of practice, blames nebulous rules for its fence-sitting. “We do not insist that members transfer liability for PCNs as there is very little consistency in the legislation or the treatment of hire companies by councils in terms of what constitutes a valid hire agreement,” it says. “In many cases, a rental company will try to transfer liability, but this will be refused due to a missing bit of information or lack of a signature.”
Hertz told the Observer that since it’s not a requirement of the law or of BVRLA’s code of practice to transfer liability, it keeps its options open. “When we are notified of a traffic contravention, our rental terms state that we can pass the details of the customer who was renting the vehicle to the relevant authority so it can pursue the payment of the fine directly,” it says. “Alternatively, we can pay the fine and recover the cost from the customer by way of reimbursement.
“In both cases an administration fee is charged to the customer. Our rental terms cover both of these options. In the majority of cases, we transfer the liability, but an authority can ask for direct payment or we may make a decision to pay the fine based on our experience of an authority’s previous requests.”
You can actually appeal against a fine, even if it has been paid by a rental company, although bus lane contraventions are notoriously difficult to challenge. To do so, you have to request a third-party letter from the hire company. Hertz says it issues them without making an extra charge.
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