Rental Car Companies Cashing In on Photo Enforcement!

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.

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14 Comments

  1. John
    Posted April 15, 2009 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    Interesting article. The state of AZ mailed me a speeding ticket during my stay in Phoenix during February 24 – 25. I paid the fine just two weeks ago, and today I noticed that VMS CAR RENTAL PARKING GREAT FALLS MT has charged my credit card $50. I never received any notice for this from anyone. It could have easily gone unnoticed.

    What can I do to get my $50 back?

    You shouldn’t have paid the fine!!! You were not obligated to and they probably would never have served you.

    You can request a refund from your credit card company, but then they will probably turn you over to collections. You can call the company using the number you see on the letter in this blog and see if they can locate your ticket number and then you can dispute it with VMS, but you probably will not win. I am trying to dispute a ticket on behalf of the person who received the letter in this blog. I am sure I will have to have several exchanges with them before it is over, and I will post here if I am successful. I am challenging their charge on the basis that a) they are not licensed as PI’s in the state of Arizona and b) there is no state law that requires them to perform the service they are charging people for. The only piece of the puzzle I don’t have is that I don’t know what the car rental agreement actually says to see if there is some wiggle room there. –admin

    • brett
      Posted October 3, 2013 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

      i got a vms letter in the mail and called my cc company and changed my # . i told them my info was compromised . but i remember initialing the paper that i did not get a copy of, that said . well being rushed by the guy said, your responsible for the tickets and may have said something about 50 bucks but it was a lot of fine print and he said your responsible for any tickets you get but he never said “oh yeah, and we charge u 50 bucks if u get 1″as he walked me through it. but thats not the point !!!! i never ever gave them permission to give or sell my info to anyone!!!!the fact that vms sent me a letter proclaiming that they are going to charge my card!!!is down right criminal!!!i swear i am so close to calling my cc company and disputing the whole charge!!and shed light on the whole thing!!1 and your credit card will dispute anything!you just have to put it in writing and once you do they tell thrifty to go fuck themselves!! and that brings me to the speeding camera shot that was allegedly taken of my rental car! i looked up the maryland saftyzone and it said they are supposed to warn you cameras are in use and they didnt! i think i remember 1 sign that had initials i couldnt understand ! iwas like huh??? and then a digital speed read out telling you how fast u are going and i didnt see 1 of those till i got into new jersey! if a digital read out told me i was speeding , then i would have slowed down! so screw t hem 2!! they’re over there ,not holding to the regulations that got the device approved ! had they had the proper signage in place i would have slowed down!! and who checked to see if the camera was working properly anyway? not to mention it was a total scam! the tafafic on the other side of the barier was slow cuz thats where the guys were working! they had the camera pointed to the totally clear side ! there was 2 cement devider lines set up with cars parked between them, and then there was the nearest construction guy!its a total scam! all the way around! i hate flying and now i hate driving cuz of these assholes trying to scam people to get money! why cant they use the equipment to catch someone whos actually close to the workers!if your speeding over there then it matters!!there were no guy or construction vehicles anywhere close to my side of the road!! and there were no signs saying slow down! cuz there was no threat!! its just a reason to park there fukin truck with the big light kit pointed at totally unobstructed roadway , trying to catch people going a little over the speed limit cuz the road is wide open with no one on it!now had the rental company called me and said hey u got a camera ticket i would have said ooops im sorry here let me disspute it with them!but then they wouldnt be able to make that extra 50 bucks!supposedly they gave my info to maryland and that may take 2 to 6 weeks! i rented the car in august ! its october! isnt there a time limit on a freakin traffic ticket! dont they have to meet time limits and deadlines like everyone else? who the fuk do they think they are? i dont owe anyone money and i definitely wont pay any of thee crooks and it makes me want to go to montana or wherever these mother fukers are and beat the crap out of the stinkin scam artists!

  2. Posted April 16, 2009 at 4:01 am | Permalink

    If there are any rental car firms in the PHX area that do *not* have this Violation Management Services (VMS) arrangement, please publicize which ones they are. I suspect that there are many vehicle renters who would rather do business with them, even if the rental agency doesn’t “just throw the tickets away” but rather deals directly with a customer who was driving at the time of “photo enforcement violation”.

    Secondly, are car rental firms letting it be known at the time of rental what their practices are in regard to photo enforcement violations?

    I recommend that people preferentially deal with those firms that are completely frank with their customers in regard to driving violations while using their vehicles – this will financially support them while denying support to those that are less than truthful. PhotoRadarScam can be helpful by letting readers know which companies are *not* being completely truthful with their customers.

    I do not know which rental companies (if any) do not do something like this, so if anyone knows contact me and I’ll make a list. A reader did send me a copy of the contract and they do make it fairly obvious to a renter that the $50 fee applies. The same issues still apply though – the letter is full of lies, and in this case, PCR is acting on a notice of violation, not an actual or official ticket or citation. As we know, PCR will never receive an actual ticket or citation because corporations cannot be served. PCR should just discard the notices because they have no legal ramifications or liabilities. –admin

  3. John
    Posted April 16, 2009 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Admin – I paid the state of AZ the fine for the speeding ticket. I never agreed to pay the $50 fine from VMS CAR RENTAL PARKING GREAT FALLS MT. It was automatically charged to my credit card without notice.

    I might have what you are looking for. I have the contract from Payless Car Rental in my hands. Would you like a copy? If so, please provide me with your email address and I’ll send over a PDF version.

  4. Photo Radar 101
    Posted April 23, 2009 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    Speaking of cashing in, what percentage of each ticket goes to the photo radar company? That should be public information, and it would be great if PhotoRadarScam.com could post it somewhere.

    Those companies should NOT be making such exuberant profits off of the state. The state, being in a financial downfall, should change its contract so it retains 95% or more of each citation. That funding should go to repairing roadways, improving safety, hiring additional DPS officers, etc.

    The money should NOT be going to deep pockets, especially in this time of recession when the state is in dire need of funding.

    Who ever thought that the cameras should be leased and services leased? The state should have purchased the cameras with warranties and taken over the monitoring and citation monies. With the large amount of money coming in, the state could EASILY afford to hire technically able individuals to do the simpleton work of these photo radar camera companies.

    Are these photo radar camera companies publicly traded (stocks)?

    Some of the companies are publicly traded. The breakdown of where the fines go is usually easily available on the Internet. I could publish the figures, but it’s different for every contract, and it varies A LOT across the country. For Arizona DPS it’s around $20 or $30/citation, but there are places where I’ve seen it be up to $70 or $80. They also have flat fee arrangements for around $10,000/month or more.

    There have been some cities that enacted laws that directed funds from photo programs out of a general fund and into a fund for education. It was rather interesting because not long after that happened, the cities decided they didn’t need photo enforcement anymore. –admin

  5. Photo Radar 101
    Posted April 23, 2009 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    I noticed links to anti-photo radar sites. Do you have a list of some of the best deals on alert systems that notify you when approaching a photo radar camera, and can be updated via USB cable and a PC? I know of this one, Cheetah C100 (http://tinyurl.com/cheetahC100). This site seems to have many options (http://www.radarbusters.com/). Are all of the detectors legal in Arizona? I read that they are.

    Perhaps you can post these links as well, if you have not already.

    There are a lot of anti-photo products on the market. Maybe some day I’ll add this stuff to the site in more detail, I have a long list of TO-DO’s for this site already. Thanks for the suggestion –admin

  6. amy haberis
    Posted May 26, 2009 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    I also received 4 notices from VMS at 50 dollars each with times with three on them for the same day marked 4:50 am, 4:51 am, 4:53 am at 76mph in a 65 zone. I had rented a car from FOX rent a car in phoenix and would be interested in your progress in appealing the $50 fee

  7. Dave Mahoney
    Posted July 18, 2009 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    I recently, 6/15/09, got a photo speeding ticket from Scottsdale, AZ, while I was there on business driving a rental car. I was using Budget rental agency, and they must have give AZ my information because I received a ticket in the mail with my picture driving the rental car for $25. I ignored a few notices since then, but noe the fee is up to $175.00. I need to know if I have to pay this ticket, and if I don’t, will I get into any trouble or will the price keep going up? Can someone help me, please!

  8. amy
    Posted September 10, 2009 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    I received a VMS notice for getting a speeding ticket from a photoradar in scottsdale, AZ. I was just wondering what the consequences are if I cancel my credit card before VMS has a chance to charge my card. Will they contact me and increase their service fee? Or will they drop the charge? Or still hand my information over to the Scottsdale ticketing agency? Anyone else try to get out of the fee this way and know the results?

  9. Ray Gonzales
    Posted March 7, 2010 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    OMG! I just saw this charge on my card today. I had rented the car from PAYLESS CAR RENTAL, and they have charged me $50.00. I have not received any ticket in mail.

    Can anyone tell me, if you’d have to pay $50.00 plus the Speeding violation ticket, or is it included in VMS?

    Thanks,
    Ray

  10. J Bruni
    Posted May 12, 2010 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Rented from Fox Rent a CAR …I also rec’d 2 speeding tickets from VMS…they indicate the fine due is $190 and the service fee is $40 leaving the total charge as $40. Its confusing…I thought I had to pay $80 in total but what I actually paid is the VMS service charge! Now I am getting a letter from Fox saying I owe $406.00…probably the $190 X2 plus some additional fee!… For all the money I’ve paid I could have rented a Ferrari!

  11. John
    Posted March 24, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Does contacting VMS after having received notice of them charging with my credit card with the service fee constitute me having been “properly served” with the violation? An AZ lawyer told me that someone has to personally hand me the citation in order to count as being properly served, but because I contacted VMS before the actual citation even arrived constitute acknowledgement of service?

  12. Julie
    Posted July 16, 2012 at 1:33 am | Permalink

    I just had an experience with VMS out of Montana. All you need to do to get rid of the VMS fee is prove to them you have paid your ticket or toll. Once you show them that you paid, they will get rid of the fee.

  13. john
    Posted August 24, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    I got billed 40.00 from VMS for a toll. Called them to dispute it. They claimed the 40.00 fee was for them to research & provide the renters info to the toll company. This is for them to provide the renters info that the car rental company already has in their data base. I knew was gonna be charged the toll fee & fines from the toll company. I rented the car from Fox car rental in Orange County California.


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