NEWARK, NJ — A discount car rental company operating out of Newark and John F. Kennedy airports has agreed to pay $80,000 in penalties after it allegedly used “shady tactics” to rip off its customers, prosecutors announced Wednesday.

Drivo Rent-A-Car has also agreed to enter binding arbitration to resolve consumer complaints and change its policies and practices, according to a joint statement from Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and the Division of Consumer Affairs.

Prosecutors alleged that the company violated New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act in the following ways:

  • 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
  • failing to honor rental rates agreed upon through online reservations

Drivo Rent-A-Car will be making the following changes in the wake of their consent agreement, prosecutors said:

  • 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 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
  • 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

The total settlement includes $44,524 in civil penalties, $2,677 in restitution to consumers, $9,535 in investigative costs and $23,262 in attorneys’ fees.

“Companies that employ shady tactics to unfairly profit from their customers will be held accountable,” Grewal said. “We want drivers of rental cars in New Jersey to be confident that they aren’t being taken for a ride.”

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.

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