San Francisco City Attorney, Dennis J. Herrera, has sued Hertz and its partner, American Traffic Solutions (“ATS”), for allegedly duping consumers into paying extra fees to cross the Golden Gate Bridge.
Hertz is one of the largest rental car companies in the world and, according to the complaint, it has been taking advantage of some of the forty million drivers that cross the iconic Golden Gate Bridge every year. ATS administers a service to Hertz called PlatePass which allows drivers to pass through electronic high-speed toll collection lanes and bypass cash lanes. Every Hertz rental car in California is enabled with PlatePass. Hertz describes the service on its website as a way to “avoid delays at toll lanes and be on your way faster.” PlatePass costs customers $4.95 per day, even when it is not used to pass through electronic tolls. Hertz customers cannot opt-out of the service.
The Plaintiff claims that “PlatePass on the Golden Gate Bridge is a scam.” In 2013, cash toll lanes were removed from the Golden Gate Bridge and replaced with All Electronic Tolling (AET) whereby drivers can pay the toll before crossing by purchasing an electronic toll tag or after crossing by paying over the phone, online or mail. According to the complaint, Hertz and ATS have actively concealed the fact that customers have alternative options for paying Golden Gate Bridge tolls and that, by being unable to opt out of PlatePass, customers cannot avoid the PlatePass fees even when PlatePass is unnecessary.
The complaint alleges that Hertz and ATS have engaged in unlawful, unfair and/or fraudulent business practices, false advertising and violations of the Rental Passenger Vehicle Transactions laws and the Consumer Legal Remedies Act.