x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Old parking fines hit UAE car rental firms for tens of thousands

Car rental companies have locked horns with the Department of Transport over thousands of dirhams of fines due.

Car rental companies are in a bitter dispute with the Department of Transport over thousands of dirhams after the Abu Dhabi parking authority sent through a glut of fines dating back more than two years.

Mawaqif, the parking authority at the Department of Transport, has sent car rental companies a backlog of fines in the past couple of months that executives say they can no longer pay because customers have either cancelled their credit cards or left the country having rented a car.

"At the moment we have a huge number of fines," said Marwan Al Mulla, the general manager of Dollar Rent A Car. "For us, the problem is that I cannot charge the customer after two to three years."

Thrifty has a received a backlog of fines totalling more than Dh90,000 (US$24,501).

"The problem now is that it's too late to charge these fines to customers. Most customers have cancelled their credit cards or changed details," said Mr Mulla. Safi John, the general manager of Progress Rent A Car, said he believed the backlog of fines had come through to the companies due to a miscommunication between Abu Dhabi Police and Mawaqif.

Mawaqif could not be reached for comment.

"These fines should have appeared instantly, like any other fines. People pay and they move on," said Mr John. "So far, we have about Dh70,000 of fines. That's probably less than some of the big operators that have probably got Dh100,000."

For many operators, the money they owe is more than the business makes in profit per month. Many of the car rental companies have requested that the fines be cleared from their names, but Mr Mulla said Mawaqif had refused to offer any concessions on the level of fines.

"They upload the fines into the system. When they don't upload them, it's their problem. Fines from 2008, nobody can charge for that," he said.

"We are an established provider and take cars of guests coming to the UAE. They have to support us in these cases."

Mr John said Mawaqif had given Progress until the end of the year to clear the Dh70,000 in fines.

"All of us are in the same situation and it does not look good," he said.

Normally, parking and traffic fines hit a car rental system within days and companies can charge their customers quickly.

MBalasubramanian, the general manager of Autorent Car Rental, is a small operator in Abu Dhabi but has clocked up a fines bill of up to Dh10,000.

He said he had been calling customers to ask if the company can charge their credit card.

"Some of them respond back, some of them do understand that fines come late," he added.



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