to pay or not to pay
July 14, 2005 11:17 AM   Subscribe

I rented a car on a recent trip to Ontario, Canada (I live in the US) and got a parking ticket. I paid the rental cash but I guess the rental company would have the credit card number I used to make the reservation What would happen if I don't pay the fine? Is the rental company (Avis) going to charge me? Will they send me a bill in 10 years asking me for payment and interests?
posted by kewlio to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total)
I got a parking ticket on a rental car once and ignored it and nothing ever happened. Make of that what you will.
posted by myeviltwin at 11:29 AM on July 14, 2005

I got a parking ticket on a rental care once and ignored it and they sent me a bill. Make of that what you will.
posted by sohcahtoa at 11:37 AM on July 14, 2005

IANAL but would imagine that cross border citations are very difficult to collect. Most parking fines are a civil matter and I would guess are dropped unless there is a flagrant abuse or a very aggressive municipality. This spring I received several parking tickets in Montreal on an auto rented in the US and nothing happened. Actually, I forgot about the fines until this question. BTW, three of us could not figure out the regulations on the street sign and one of us is relatively fluent in French. This is sheer rationalization, but until Montreal's official sinage is bilingual , as are cities in the other Provinces, I will lose no sleep over two parking tickets.
posted by rmhsinc at 12:08 PM on July 14, 2005

Avis will pay the ticket if you don't. Then you owe Avis the money (this is in your contract). The range of potential consequences is the same as for any other unpaid bill.
posted by winston at 12:09 PM on July 14, 2005

Avis Driver Policies - Canada says:
Parking tickets, traffic violations and costs, toll road fines and costs are the responsibility of the renter.
I called their Canadian customer service number. The customer service rep suggested: "You got a parking ticket? That sucks. You should call the location where you got the car." OK, I'll file that under "sympathetic but clueless."

I'd ignore the ticket. If they care, they'll either contact you or bill your card.
posted by ryanrs at 12:10 PM on July 14, 2005

And one more thing. Avis recorded your credit card for precisely this situation. Most likely, they'll attempt to bill your card instead of sending the account to a collection agency. (you hope)
posted by ryanrs at 12:19 PM on July 14, 2005

Your agreement with them likely says you're expected to pay it and there are additional fees if you don't. That said, you've probably got about a 50-50 shot at getting away with not paying. I once asked my father about this when he was a muckity-muck at Ryder Truck Rental in the early 90s and he said it's actually a matter the rental companies put a good amount of effort into dealing with. RTR at the time apparently had several people whose full time jobs was matching tickets with renters and getting them to pay. At the time they had less than a 30 or 40% success rate.

Mind you, they were largely a franchise-run rental operation only 5 years into a centralized electronic rental and tracking system at that point so their challenges were greater. It's surely easier (but not perfect) to match a vehicle with who was driving it at the time.

Regardless, you should pay it because SOMEONE is going to pay it one way or another. In the short term if you avoid liability that's going to be the rental company. In the long term it's everyone else who rents from that company as the cost gets passed on. Do the right thing - you did the crime, pay the fine.
posted by phearlez at 12:28 PM on July 14, 2005

My guess is that how this would work out depends upon the laws of the jurisdiction where the ticket was written. I got a parking ticket in NYC on a rental car. NYC sent multiple letters to my home in TN but I never heard a word from the rental company. (I'm sure the rental company gave NYC my home address.) Makes me think that there is something about the jurisdiction that lets the rental car co. off the hook if they can provide contact information for the renter.
posted by Carbolic at 1:01 PM on July 14, 2005

I was in a similar situation, but not cross-border. I live in Georgia and rented a car for a trip I took in Dallas about four years ago. I got a parking ticket and just ignored it. Nothing happened.
posted by lynda at 2:51 PM on July 14, 2005

If they have your credit card number, I would think they'd just charge it to that.

Otherwise, I'd forget about it. If they really want it, they'll get in touch.
posted by Count Ziggurat at 3:12 PM on July 14, 2005

You got a ticket. Why wouldn't you pay it?
posted by realcountrymusic at 11:26 PM on July 14, 2005

My husband got a ticket in NY. Through the car rental company, it got here (CA). He had to pay it.
posted by slimslowslider at 2:52 AM on July 15, 2005

I got a speeding ticket from a radar camera when driving a rental car. The ticket came to me in the mail directly from the DMV, not from the rental car agency. Apparently if a car is registered as a rental, the rental agency can just give the driver information to the DMV and then the DMV follows the usual process for collecting. I imagine this varies by jurisdiction.

Also, I know lots of people, including myself, who have had parking tickets (even ones we don't remember receiving) show up to haunt us years down the road.

Since your ticket is in another country, the worst case scenario is that if you don't pay it, the next time you try to enter Canada they stop you at the border and arrest you for being a fugitive. Unlikely, yes. But they are getting weirder and weirder about borders these days, so who knows.
posted by clarissajoy at 6:45 AM on July 15, 2005

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