Consumer clout - it's a potent weapon these days for bullying travel-related companies into changing policies.

Competition is so tight that airlines, hotels and car rental agencies are listening - and responding - to customer complaints with renewed vigor.

Numerous complaints prompted Hertz a few weeks ago to back off a plan to introduce a $2.50 reservation fee on all of its vehicle rentals in the United States. The retreat - the plan had been announced - followed recent moves by several airlines to eliminate their Saturday night stay requirement and by other carriers to slash their ticket exchange fee to $50 from $100.

Travel experts say the changes are prompted most often not by individual complaints but by the organized action of consumers using e-mails and Internet message board postings.

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