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The people at MSN Money have unearthed a little known stipulation in rental car contracts that allows the manufacturer of speed and red light cameras to directly charge your credit card if you're caught breaking the law. How? Big name rental agencies like Hertz, Avis, Advantage and Budget have an agreement with a company called ATS Processing Services to share renters' credit card and personal information. ATS operates a fair portion of the traffic enforcement cameras in the U.S., and when a rental car gets popped running a red light, the company immediately checks to see who was renting it at the time and charges his or her credit card. Oh, and they ding you for a $30 administrative fee.

This presents a few problems. Namely, it does away with that whole "due process of the law" thing on which our entire justice system is based. In their defense, the rental companies say that having ATS directly bill renters is an easier system than what used to happen. Once upon a time, when a rental car snagged a fine from a traffic enforcement camera, the rental car company was expected to pay it and then track down and charge whoever had incurred the infraction. Neither process is exactly reassuring for those who rent cars on a regular basis, but it seems to be the norm. Next time you find yourself at the rental counter, be sure to read the entire contract.

[Source: MSN Money | Image: Tim Boyle/Getty]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      Sounds like a conflict of interest, and ATS should cease one of those operations.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It's not a conflict of interest. I don't think you understand what a conflict of interest is. A conflict of interest is when a person's intrinsic motivation runs contrary to their extrinsic motivation. Like a judge ruling on a lawsuit against a company that the judge is interested in. The judge has the expectation of upholding the law, but harbors the self-interest of helping the company. Or a cop who gets to conduct his own internal affairs investigation.

        There is an issue of due process of law. The Constitution roughly says the State can't take peoples' life, lively hood, or property, or imprison them without a conviction from a jury of their peers (barring some crimes that are heard by congress, but that's a rare case). This runs grossly afoul of that principal when a company can enforce the law and create a punishment in isolation from the courts. If we took this farther, someone like Boeing could see that you copied a copyrighted work and then assess the fine right to your bank account.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It's a conflict of intrest because they are profiting from law enforcement you morons. As stated, it goes against everything this country and our legal system is about. Lemme guess... u guys voted for bush?
        • 4 Years Ago
        "Oh, and they ding you for a $30 administrative fee.."

        On top of the ticket...now that really "Hertz" where it matters, your wallet!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Im confused.... when you commit a driving infraction, you the driver is the one who gets the tifcket. Not the Rental Car Company. Its supposed to go against your license. Why would the rental car company care if you if you got a ticket?

        And of course the whole fact that you are supposed to have the right to challenge any ticket you get before paying a fine.

        This doesn't sound right at all.

        Thank goodness I hardly ever rent cars
        • 4 Years Ago
        Illegal redlight cameras send the owner the bill.
        Now they want to send the bill to the operator.
        They want it both ways.

        How about on the next 4th of July, all of these damn things come down.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "Sounds like a conflict of interest"

        To quote from a great movie.

        You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "nar nar vote for bush nar nar idiots nar nar"

        Yea, that's how I image your thought process went.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I didn't think it made sense for the rental car company to be (automatically) charged for a speeding ticket. --- That's like letting a friend borrow a car, and he then runs a red light. You receive a notice in mail that your credit card has been charged to pay the ticket, though it wasn't you that drove through a red light.--- I think that's why many city's can't get their residents to approve Red Light cameras....unless an intersection is prone to regular major accidents.

        It would have made sense for ATS to REQUEST information about the driver using a specific rental car at the time a ticket was generated. And then the ticket is issued directly to the driver. Since ATS was getting its money up-front, the process was fine. Also, a renter can dispute the ATS charges unless the rental agreement includes auto-billing for such cases. Which it probably will. The renter's screwed either way.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Anyone that has a shred of industry experience with in Rental cars, there is much much much more than handing the keys over to some one who just so happens to run a camera light.

      You think its funny that the company would have to pay for your ticket?
      Park in a resticted zone while renting a car, drop it off, let them pay for it right?
      What about running that camera? Now they should be outlawed, BUT THE LAW dictates that the owner of the car be sent the fine.

      Get real people, its a business, you screw up, they are not paying for it.
      Camera tickets are communities way of generating revenue with out having to work for it. That is not good if you ask me.

      And the administration fee.. yes the $30 the person who wrote about in this spot.
      Tell you what, if you want to process the ticket in person, or sub it out as they have done, IT COSTS MONEY and MANPOWER.

      One last question? Do any of you work for free? I didnt think so. Neither should the rental company employees who process all the fines renters incur year in and year out.
      Nor should the contracted company work for free while processing YOUR fine.
      Its not their fine.

      Thats my take. If you dont like it.. so be it.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I agree with the fact that if you rent a car, you should be responsible for paying the fee should you get a red light/speeding camera/parking ticket. I get that it is your responsibility. However; I do not believe they should be able to charge you an administrative fee. It really doesn't take much manpower at all to match a violation with the person who rented the car at the time (a quick search of the computer will yield this result in seconds).
      • 4 Years Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      I should add that I do not mind paying a fine for doing something wrong, but I believe the rental company should have no business, let alone profit, in this.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It could be time to start packing a license plate cover that obscures the letters and numbers from any angle. Two minutes in the parking lot could save multiple dollars in the credit card balance due. This applies anly to the states that don't ban them. You could look that up. Remember that these tickets don't add points. They're civil court tickets. Proof is also different. Civil courts judge on the preponderence of the evidence rather than the higher criminal court requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
      Still, the result is a hit in the wallet.
      • 4 Years Ago
      sounds like grounds for a nice lawsuit. traffic cameras have been taken down in other areas for court cases where lac of due process was argued. I can't see why this is any different.
      • 4 Years Ago
      you must be a cop to make that statement, of course if you were a cop, then you would know that all traffic fines aren't meant to keep streets safer, they are meant to bring in revenue..


      by the way meathead, we are talking about cameras, not actual cops handing out tickets.

      Double duh!!!
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'm sure you hate the Autoblog comments system. :)
      • 4 Years Ago
      I guess the bigger question now is if there are any car rental companies not using this system. I have not rented a car in years, and have had two minor speeding tickets in 27-28 years.

      Personally, I'll be damned if I am going to pad some car rental company's coffers in this automated fashion. I do like the one suggestion to use an alternative license plate (fake, personal, or stolen).

      Also, what if someone steals the vehicle? For instance, I've got to go out of town next month for a wedding. What if someone steals the vehicle out of the motel parking lot on night and runs up 50 speeding infractions? The rental company and the camera company are not going to give a poop about that.

      BTW, I guess I should be surprised by this greed-move by the rental companies. During the week of and following week of 9/11/2001 Enterprise rented me a car so that I and a coworker could go to vendor training out of state (we chose not to fly so soon after 9/11). We hadn't realized the pound and a half of POT in the driver's door pocket until we had already crossed over two state lines.

      That was a potential federal offense. With the help of the hotel manager, we put the pot into the toilet and flushed multiple times. When the coworker and I got back from this week training trip, I chewed out the Enterprise rep for the whole incident. They told us to our face they were not responsible and next time don't rent from them considering the 9/11 incident had their business overrun.

      While I was upset at the first point (pot in door pocket), I was bewildered that the car rental company could have cared less about the renters, that they might have wound up in federal prison, or at least in serious legal and financial conditions, etc.

      Next month I get to go out of town and need to rent a car for a couple of days. I know I will not be renting from Enterprise, but I wonder how customer-poor I'll be expected to be treated by anyone else. To me, this economic situation appears to be bad in that it will force loyal customer to migrate to their competition.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Time to dispose of the cameras.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Ah, so I see that Hertz was really just a creative misspelling of "Hurts".
      • 4 Years Ago
      "Due process? We don't need no stinkin' due process!"

      -police all around the world.
        • 4 Years Ago
        US Constitution for sale. Bailouts. Nationalization of private business. Reverse Robin Hood. Contract away your fundamental rights. Welcome to the New World Order.
      • 4 Years Ago
      People are so misinformed. First the cameras do stop red light runners, theres proof to show that. Second we (Im a employee of ATS) have nothing to do with the actual traffic signal. If the yellow light is to short thats the city, we do not touch there traffic light. They give us a wire that runs off it to know when its red. Some cities do ask for us to delay the camera a second after the light turns red, its up to your city. 3rd This is for the Right turn runners, if u make a right turn on red going faster than 7mph it will get u. You have to stop, its not yield right on red its stop on red.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Is this writing style typical of all employees of ATS? God help us.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Sure, they stop red light runners at the lights where the cameras are, because there are signs posted prior to the intersection of the light where the camera is!!! If you know that there is a camera at the intersection, you are going to stop! I remember when red light cameras first came to Olde Town Alexandria, VA. The first months the camera was installed, it gave out more than 1,500 tickets or so within a few weeks. In fact, the camera actually ran out of film. After a few months, the number of tickets greatly decreased, as people knew the camera was there. Funny thing is, the next intersection was now the intersection everyone ran the light at.

        Traffic citations are nothing but a revenue stream for the city/county that you are in at the time you are pulled over. Ask any law enforcement officer and they will tell you the same thing (if they are being honest with you)!!! I was recently pulled over for running a stop sign about 3:00 AM one morning. I had gotten lost in a bad section of a city not too far from where I currently live. There were quite a few questionable subjects walking the street and a blew right through the stop sign. Unfortunately, there was a cop behind a truck that I pulled in front of (I in no way posed a risk to the truck, as it was at LEAST 500 yards away). As I turned left, the police officer hit his lights and sirens. I immediately pulled over. When the police officers came to my window, the first thing they asked was why I was in this section of town. I told him I was lost and realized I wasn't in the best area of town and was just trying to get back on course. He asked if I knew why I was being pulled over. I told him I didn't (I actually hadn't even seen the cop when I blew through the stop sign so I was't sure if that is why I was being pulled over or if it was the fact I was driving an E55 through this area of town). He told me he saw me plow through the stop sign. I admitted that I did it and told him why I did it. He told me he saw those people and that it is a very heavy drug area and he actually told me he didn't blame me for not stopping and never asked me for my license and told me to be safe and that was all there was to it. So, anyone that says that traffic citations are about public safety is full of crap!
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