The travel troubleshooter

Stuck with two car rental bills

 

christopher@elliott.org

Q. My husband and I recently rented a car via AutoEurope for a trip to Germany and the Czech Republic. We received a pre-paid voucher for a rental from Hertz.

When we landed in Munich, Germany, a Hertz representative told us our reservation had been canceled. After some delay, checking on his computer and his garage, he assured us that we could obtain another smaller car. He said it would cost slightly less than our original rental amount, but that we would have to take up the refund of the original reservation with AutoEurope.

My husband signed a new charge slip (of course, all in German) and we were glad to finally be on our way. The Hertz agent only gave us a credit card receipt, but no rental agreement.

While still in Europe, my husband sent an email to AutoEurope, letting it know about the cancellation. We returned the car without incident.

Now both Hertz and AutoEurope are charging us for the car. After several months of multiple emails and phone calls, AutoEurope advised us that their original charge indeed was for our reservation, which they state was not canceled, and that the Hertz charges were not for a new rental but for unrequested extra insurance, a car return relocation fee, entry to Czech Republic fee and a winterization fee.

I am so mad and offended by the dishonesty of the Hertz agent in Munich and the collusion of AutoEurope. Do we have any recourse?

Pat Shopher, El Macero, Calif.

AutoEurope’s voucher should have worked. But instead of taking the next rental, you should have contacted AutoEurope immediately and asked it to fix the problem with Hertz. That way, this misunderstanding could have been avoided.

I’ve dealt with a few cases like this, where reservations for international rentals were canceled and then rebooked at a higher rate. Usually, customers end up with an extra fee or two, but I’ve never seen it rise to this level.

Some of the fees charged by the Hertz location in Germany seem suspicious. If you never asked for insurance, why should you pay for it? A winterization fee? (That would be for winter tires, which should come standard with any car driven in winter conditions.)

Why did you sign a contract that you couldn’t understand? You have the right to ask for a contract in a language you understand, or at least for a translation. But instead, it looks as if you assumed the terms of your rental were the same as for the AutoEurope rental, and they weren’t.

The vouchers issued by a company like AutoEurope should include all mandatory charges, and if Hertz had accepted it, you probably wouldn’t have had any surprises on your credit card bill. You made a valiant attempt to dispute this with each company, short of taking this matter up with your credit card.

Fortunately, that wasn’t necessary. I contacted Hertz on your behalf. It refunded 251 euro, the full amount of Hertz’s optional services.

Read more Travel stories from the Miami Herald

  • The travel troubleshooter

    My wife is in intensive care — what about her airline ticket?

    Q: Earlier this year, I booked flights with Expedia on Icelandair for a trip to Paris and London for my wife and me. It was to be in celebration of our 30th wedding anniversary. Since the day I bought the tickets, my wife was stricken with a very serious bacterial infection and has been in the intensive care unit at the hospital. If she can recover, she will be in rehabilitation for several months and will not be able to go on the trip.

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">Ginger root, pills and lozenges</span>

    Cruising

    Prone to seasickness? Distraction might help

    Few things will ruin a cruise faster than feeling seasick. To help prevent motion sickness, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends staying hydrated, curbing alcohol and caffeinated drinks, eating small meals and limiting external stimuli. And while some experts say that cabins in the middle of the lower deck of a ship may help temper motion sickness, the CDC has reported that “cabin location on a cruise ship does not appear to influence the likelihood of motion sickness.”

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">Glass Window Bridge:</span> The Atlantic pounds the east side of Eleuthera, the ‘Caribbean’ the west.

    The Bahamas

    The Bahama’s: Eleuthera, an island of sun, surf and solitude

    Eleuthera: Elusive, therapeutic, with empty beaches, among the most beautiful anywhere, with white or blush talcum powder sand and waters in varying shades of aquamarine, turquoise, amethyst and crystal.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK



  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category