Rental car companies are cashing in on photo enforcement! Typically, rental car contracts require renters to be responsible for any tickets incurred by the rental vehicle. What is unclear to most renters, is that there is an added service fee of up to $50 if this happens, whether the renter is guilty or not!
We recently learned of this case involving an Illinois tourist who rented a car from Payless Car Rental who was cited by photo enforcement in the City of Tempe. When PCR received the notice of violation, they passed the information along to Violation Management Services (VMS) based out of Great Falls, MT. VMS then “researched” who was renting the vehicle at the time and sent the information to the City of Tempe for prosecution. VMS also charged the renter’s credit card and sent the renter an invoice for $50.00 for this service.
So what’s the problem?
The first problem is that VMS is being employed as a private investigator. Their role is to research the identify of individuals and provide that information for the purpose of law enforcement. In Arizona, private investigators are supposed to be licensed. Unfortunately, VMS is not licensed to do private investigation in the state of Arizona.
The second problem is that VMS is doing this illegally and employing fraud to do it. Reference the actual letter:
“Under state laws, PCR Venture is required to provide information regarding your rental to the issuing authority…”
It goes on to say:
“In accordance with applicable municipal statues, we have supplied the Issuing Authority (IA) with your contact information, therefore transferring full liability for the payment of this violation to you.”
The problem with this letter is that there are NO state laws that require anyone to provide information about your rental to anybody for any reason. When we contacted VMS, they were unable to tell us what state law they were referring to. If anyone reading this can find the law, please be sure to email us. The other problem in the letter is that there are no municipal statutes that require this either.
The whole gist of this email is that the renter is required to pay VMS to provide the City of Tempe (and other state agencies or municipalities) with their information. This raises a few questions:
1. Why do customers have to pay someone else to “do research” and provide your information to someone when there are no laws or municipal statues that require it?
2. Why can’t the rental car company do it themselves? Answer: Because that would cost money and take overhead, and any surcharge charged would give the consumer a negative feeling about the company. What’s a convenient solution? Hire another company to perform this service and bill the client and provide a kick-back to the car rental company. That way, the rental company makes money and can pretend to be innocent in this whole matter. The alternative is that the rental company could just throw the tickets away, which would cost nothing, but also make nothing. Like that’s going to happen.
This whole scheme is yet another scam in the big photo enforcement picture.