Car rental companies Hertz Canada Ltd. and Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group Canada Inc. both have reached a "consent agreement" with Canada's Competition Bureau and has agreed to pay $1.25 million in penalties. The two companies are owned by the same parent holdings, Hertz Global Holdings Inc., were under investigation by the competition watchdog bureau for advertising discount prices that were essentially impossible to achieve. The two companies advertised discounted prices that consumers could not obtain due to various fees which were not in the advertisement. The bureau claimed the added fees would result in between an additional 10 and 57 percent to the final price. "Some of these fees were described in a way that implied that they were mandatory taxes or surcharges imposed by various governments when, in fact, Hertz and Dollar Thrifty chose to impose the additional mandatory fees to recover part of their own cost of doing business," the bureau said in a statement. In addition to the penalties, both car rental companies has agreed to provide the bureau with proof that they have implemented a corporate compliance program to ensure the practice of misleading advertisement is no longer part of their operations.
"Today's resolution will address any remaining issues in Hertz and Dollar Thrifty's advertising, including online," in a statement from Canada's competition commissioner John Pecman. "The two companies proactively and voluntarily took steps to address the conduct and will make further changes to ensure consumers are provided with accurate information." However, with the settlement, neither companies had any admission of wrongdoing. The parent holding company said that before the investigation it had no records of complaints about the issue from Canadian customers. "Hertz's practice in respect of prices, fees and discounts has long been consistent with industry practice, however we have co-operated with CCB in agreeing to make the required pricing and disclosure changes," in a statement released by the company. The consent agreement is legally binding and no further legal proceeding will be required at this time. The penalty is paid to the Receiver General of Canada and becomes part of the government's general revenues. In 2015, the same bureau accused Avis and Budget of doing something similar. The bureau found the companies were overcharging customers by more than $35 million over the years with misleading and unclear advertisement. The car rental companies ended up settling their dispute with the bureau for $3 million last year plus an addition $250,000 for investigative costs.