Hertz Corp. et al.

A class action lawsuit has been filed against car rental companies for allegedly conspiring to fix the price of vehicle rentals from airports . The lawsuit was filed against seven firms, including Hertz Corp., Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, Enterprise Rent-A-Car Inc. and Avis Budget Group Inc., as well as against the California Travel and Tourism Commission, which is accused of violating open meeting laws in facilitating price fixing by the firms.

In 2006, a California state law allowed the companies to change the way they advertised rates at many airports. The lawsuit claims the companies used the law as cover for a coordinated price increase, and that car renters have lost tens of millions of dollars as a result. The law allowed car rental firms to remove an 11% airport concession fee from their widely advertised base rental rate and bill it as a separate cost on each invoice. But rather than rates immediately dropping 11% when the fee was removed, they went up, the lawsuit alleges, and consumers were billed the 11% fee on top of a higher base rate.

The average daily base rate for LAX car rentals during the week of Dec. 21, 2006, was $59.56 including tax and the 11% airport concession fee. Then on January 1, 2007 the bill became a law. For the week of Jan. 25, 2007, the average daily price excluding fees was $64.88, plus the 11% airport concession fee, plus the new 2.5% California Trade and Tourism Fee, totaling to $79.

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