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Help! Anyone else victim of Hertz rental car return "damages" charge scam?

Help! Anyone else victim of Hertz rental car return "damages" charge scam?

Old May 24th, 2012, 03:10 AM
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Help! Anyone else victim of Hertz rental car return "damages" charge scam?

We just returned from a vacation and were absolutely shocked and livid at finding two charges from Hertz, one for $1100 that had cleared and another pending for $790. [And we even had the CW that limits damage expenses to 800E!]

We prepaid for the rental through AutoEurope, and returned the car to the Hertz garage in Munich as planned, where it was looked over by the attendant in the Hertz lane. There was no damage or scratch---we did not see any, we never experienced even a near scrape with any vehicle or object, and we inspected the car ourselves at the garage. The attendant said it looked good. Unfortunately we didn't take digital photos in the garage (good suggestion by others).

Tonight I called Hertz Munich desk to inquire about the charge and they stated emphatically they have photos to document "damage" to the car. Note: he didn't see the car, just has photos allegedly taken by parking garage attendants. He also invited me to come to the office and look at the pictures myself because he was unable to mail them or send via email!

In reading through Trip Advisor and other forums, Hertz rental car "damages" scam in Germany and other countries is not unusual. This is outright fraud as far as I'm concerned. Any advise (other than calling my credit car company)?
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Old May 24th, 2012, 05:31 AM
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You are a customer of Autoeurope--let them handle it---they are good at that.
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Old May 24th, 2012, 10:01 AM
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I usually rent through Hertz directly, and would have to say that they usually undercharge me for any dents or dings that might happen.

Probably why I keep renting from Hertz. They're a brand that I can trust.
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Old May 24th, 2012, 10:05 AM
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>

Didn't they actually walk around the car with one of those checklists and tick things off as being OK? They always do that with me (and I take my own photos as well).

Anyway, as bob says, AutoEurope should handle this for you.
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Old May 24th, 2012, 10:13 AM
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>>>Didn't they actually walk around the car with one of those checklists and tick things off as being OK? They always do that with me (and I take my own photos as well).
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Old May 24th, 2012, 10:40 AM
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I've had several problems with rentals in Europe. I always let AutoEurope handle it and they've always settled things in my favor - even a couple of times when the $$$ came out of AutoEurope's pocket. However, you'll probably need to keep on top of AutoEurope.

As others have stated, there should be a "checklist" available. AutoEurope knows this and so does Hertz. AutoEurope has more "clout" than you do in case it is really a scam. Hard to imagine Hertz would not send the pictures to AutoEurope. I assume that you know the make & color of the car (and have a pic or two to verify the color).

Stu Dudley
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Old May 24th, 2012, 10:46 AM
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i recently rented a car in holland through thrifty.

the rental depot turned out to be a very long courtesy bus ride from the airport, and the staff were perfunctory at best, but we still got a piece of paper at the end confirming that the car had been returned in perfect condition, and my c/card was debited with exactly the right amount.

it's that magic bit of paper that you needed - i suspect a local scam featuring a document that you have allegedly "signed" but in fact never saw.
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Old May 24th, 2012, 11:09 AM
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Thanks all. We did not get a formal checklist on exiting the garage.
However I have rented cars in Europe before (Avis) and have returned the car without a formal checklist inspection and have never had a problem.
When we picked up the car in Nurnberg I found the Hertz attendants to be completely unhelpful---maybe this is par.
I'm glad to hear you all have faith in AutoEurope. Let's see if they can help.
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Old May 24th, 2012, 11:20 AM
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good luck - let us know how you get on.

BTW, when we returned our car, we were asked for our petrol receipt, so that they could check that we'd filled up with the right sort of fuel.

????? - leaving aside that we hadn't been told of this requirement, they only asked to see the last one, not the ones from earlier in our journey, when we could I suppose have filled up with any old muck.

anyone come across this before? it was a new one on me.
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Old May 24th, 2012, 11:21 AM
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We rented a car from Hertz in Frankfurt last fall, and put a little scrape on it. The agent noticed it at checkin, and had me write my story of what happened. We expected a charge, maybe an expensive one, but they didn't charge us anything. So I'd rent again from Hertz.
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Old Jun 8th, 2012, 05:59 AM
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You are not alone, this happens to many others, and I believe that we should drag Hertz to court, all of us, in a class action lawsuit. This happened before in the U.S, when Hertz USA pulled off the same scam> http://www.nytimes.com/1988/08/05/bu...o-repairs.html

As for me, I can only agree with the guys above: I rented a prius at Hertz in Zurich, Switzerland, and returned the vehicle undamaged 10 days later.. That was in June of 2011.
First Hertz tries to rip me off by claiming that I never paid for the rental, about 2 months after returning the Prius. Once I prove that this wasn't the case, they drop the "unpaid case" and claims that it was an accounting error. Quite fishy.

Well in May of 2012 Hertz is back with a vengeance: Now they claim that I damaged their car- 11 MONTHS after returning that rental!!! They're demanding about 1200 Euros. I bet that they are assuming that no renter will keep a rental slip as long as 11 months....
They also include pictures of a prius of the same color that I rented with ugly damage to the front bumper, and NO licenseplate.

I'm willing to bet that there are 100s, maybe even 1000s of victims of that same scam, in my case it was Hertz of Switzerland and in yours it was Hertz Germany, but we need to get together and drag them to court, they should be fined, drop our cases, and pay restitution for the emotional stress, as well as the time spent and this goes for all victims!
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Old Jun 8th, 2012, 06:45 AM
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Why would you rent directly from Hertz when Autoeurope will match any valid quote and then stand behind you for problem resolution--makes no sense to me.
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Old Jun 8th, 2012, 06:54 AM
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Do you also pay daily excess insurance and they still scam you?

It is downright unfair that just because car rental offices have our personal credit card details they can just withdraw or block our money without even informing us. And even more so in your case that you did no damage whatsoever to the car.

I do sometimes pay just a little bit more for rental, but I always rent with Avis and at the rental office buy daily excess insurance for the whole trip so that no money would be blocked or taken from my account. Often, they charge differently in countries in Europe, the daily excess can be as much as 30 Euros per day, non-refundable, but I have total peace of mind. Some other car hire companies sell daily excess and still block money for you,(I would not know whether they would still withdraw money if anything happens to the car or whether they would be really insuring excess for you by taking money themselves and risking it) but Avis has never done this to us. I would only hire with any other companies if there were no cars available in our usual categories.

Regarding fuel, car hir rental offices personnel check that the tank is full on returning the car, and also check that everything is ok. That should always be done on the return of a car.

My husband a few weeks ago went on a business trip to Germany, and from his office they booked him with Auto Europe. They did I believe block some money on booking (it was done at the office) and on picking up at booking office they blocked a daily access fee from his credit card but it was unblocked and refunded after the trip without any problem whatsoever. It does seem that Auto Europe is a very serious company, and I think it would be my second choice. But of course everything went plain sailing, so I would not know what would have happened if God forbid he had done some damage to car.

Again, I must say that I know exactly where I am with Avis - always in Europe.
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Old Jun 8th, 2012, 08:50 AM
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>>but I always rent with Avis>It does seem that Auto Europe is a very serious company, and I think it would be my second choice
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Old Jun 8th, 2012, 09:13 AM
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It has been our experience that when offices are closed and rentals returned after these hours it is an absolute must to take pictures before and after. Many time the cars are left on the lot, street, nearby or where ever and the note as to location and keys shoved through the mail slot..We always copy the ID # off the car if available. the only time we had a problem ending in a good laugh about out caution was in Ireland with Dan Dooley. We lost a hubcap on one of their "wide" (LOL) lanes. Knowing how tourists are "abused over damages", we located a Ford dealer and, bought for 10 Pounds, a new hub cap..Dan Dooley reps had a good laugh as they never count hubcaps as damage and keep dozens on hand for replacements. They even refunded the 10Pounds...Always err on the side of caution..
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Old Jun 8th, 2012, 12:49 PM
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Something that came in very handy for us once is the toll-free number AutoEurope provides. It is answered 24/7. We returned a car to Europcar in Perpignan who wanted to charge us a substantial drop charge (we had picked up the car in Nice). I insisted they call AutoEurope on the spot and the charge was dropped. I have rented cars from AutoEurope or Kemwel many times, and on this and one other occasion (with Avis in England) they resolved the problem in my favor.

For us in the US, it's certainly an advantage to have booked through a broker here who can deal with problems that come up, especially those surprises that happen after returning home.
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Old Jun 9th, 2012, 02:52 AM
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Stu - what I meant by saying it SEEMS to a serious company (sorry meant brokers) is that so many Fodorites here praise it a lot - I know that they are brokers (and that is why I always stick to Avis - actually Avis UK as you save some money from them if you pay in full when booking - as I am always sceptical about renting from brokers) , but ultimately I would suppose brokers are still the ones you have to contact for any problems during rental. My husband had this one-off experience with Auto Europe lately, and I must say I was impressed by their service (having said that there was no accident involved). But we have never used them as a family.

Whenever we did a slight damage to an Avis car, like breaking a side mirror, no cent was ever charged (and we always point it out to them on our return) - we always pay daily excess of course. Never had any unpleasant surprises when we came back.

About a year and a half ago, just a few days before Christmas we flew to Italy, and since we booked just a few days before Christmas day, no car in our category was availible through Avis UK. So we booked through Budget. We are always wary that car hire companies have our credit card details and can withdraw or block money as they please - a car hire company quite a few years ago now, had blocked well over a thousand euros for us whilst we still paid an expensive daily excess fee. So nowadays (even when renting from Avis) we always have a credit card with enough money for rental, daily excess and and just a bit more for toll fees etc, solely for booking the car. So we would immediately know at pick up of car if they would be blocking huge amounts of money (which I always insist they shouldn't if I am paying over 30 euro non-refundable daily excess).

Anyway, the rental officer at Budget was trying to still block a large amount of money without informing us, and we found that out when told us to provide him with another credit card. We had some arguments with him, and he insisted that the company always blocks money even though we pay expensive non refundible daily excess - who knows, probably they would still use that money if some damage happened to the car - then what is the expensive daily excess paid for??? We had no choice but to go along with him, as if we cancelled we were not going to get our money back immediately, and we would for sure have found it really difficult to rent a car on Christmas eve, besides the fact that on festive days at last minute all car hires put rates up.

Then, about five months after the rental, I received from Budget two penalties, one for when we were in Pisa and one in Florence. There was a charge of 42 Euro in each penalty (sent by registered mail). We thought that was the penalty fee, but in reality it is only a processing fee - the wording is so small and you do have to read between the lines. It said we have a month or so to pay up otherwise the penalty goes up, if I remember well, double. It also said that we parked wrongly in the space reserved for the disabled. We had the blue sticker for the disabled with us - our daughter is disabled, a copy of which we left at the booking office of Budget - I guess they did not even bother to check our file well before sending us these two separate penalties.

Anyway, since I did not feel like contesting etc (they said I would have to contest it with local police of the areas), I just paid online both fines. A whole year after paying Budget, I got the proper penalty from the police of Florence , if I remember well it was over 100 euros. I was so annoyed then and was not prepared to pay any more money for a penalty I did not deserve. So I wrote to Budget, and also to the police in the locality to inform them that I had the Blue Sticker for reserved parking. Budget first asked me for some information so that they can hand it over to the police concerned, and after I did so in another letter informed me that I had to deal with the local police directly, not them - why did I then pay all that money to them - so that they just give my details to the police??? Anyway, I gave the many documents requested to police concerned, including photcopies of blue sticker, proof of issue of the sticker, identity cards, proof that my daughter was travelling with us, etc etc, and penalty was annulled. I never received a formal penalty yet from the Pisa Police station - till now that is - maybe at least Budget had then informed them???. But I feel that Budget should have informed police in the first place that we had the Blue Sticker card as we had left a copy of it in the office - the least they could have done since we paid them good money (which should not have been charged in the first place) for giving our information to police. Money down the drain.

So for anyone out there who pays full excess and would not want money to be still blocked from their credit cards (which, who knows might be eventually be taken in case of some accident or fraud) - keep a separate card for car hire companies which has a limit credit, or you might get a surprise and find an unauthorised withdrawal or blocking of money from them.

Also be aware that when you receive a penalty from a car rental company, it is usually not the proper penalty but an expensive processing fee by the car hire company. (Most probably if they could, they would have withdrawn the money from my credit card without informing me, but as I said before, I keep a credit card and put in just enough money for car rental whenever we go abroad - otherwise you would only get to know about any withdrawal when you check credit card statement.) And then it would be you that would have to contest or pay the penalty personally to the local police of the particular place where you parked after the proper penalty is issued by them.

I keep voting first for Avis as we have rented dozens of times with them and never encountered one single problem. The staff always were extremely helpful and patient with us in various countries whenever we asked them to search something for us, like police station tel nos of various localities - as sometimes in certain zones we have to inform them about our blue sticker before parking etc - and they never blocked or took a single cent from our credit card. And there was always a serious officer who inspected carefully and cleared our car when we returned it back to rental office. Also, through Avis UK, the extra fee for drop-off at another location is also prepaid (or included in rate), so again, no unpleasant surprises.

And lately they substantially lowered their car rental rates to compete with other car hire companies, including brokers.

Maybe the advantage that my husband had on booking AutoEurope was that the excess money he paid on pick up at rental office was reimbursed (credited back to his card) a few days after trip, which is non-refundable by Avis . But of course I am not sure what would have happened (whether they would have withdrawn both excess money and blocked money) if God forbid there had to be an accident.

For the Fodorite, I would keep writing emails and insisting that you get reimbursed, especially if you are 100 per cent sure that the car was handed over intact just as it was given to you. Write to the local rental drop-off, the mother companies concerned, local police,ask the bank if they have the right to just withdraw monety from your card, etc. It is a huge amount of money and it is not fair that these people (it might even be the person at the rental office, who knows)get away with it. It makes me so very angry.
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Old Jun 9th, 2012, 06:13 AM
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>>>I am always sceptical about renting from brokers
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Old Jun 9th, 2012, 07:49 AM
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And with me 3 times---I like being THEIR customer because of the clout.
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Old Jun 9th, 2012, 01:44 PM
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I sure hope that AutoEurope will settle OP's problem then (they certainly should take responsibility since hired car was prepaid with AutoEurope) but I still feel so sorry that Fodorite had to pass through all that hassle and inconvenience, even if she will eventually be reimbursed and have her money credited back to her card.

Although, as I already said, AutoEurope does seem to appeal to me, and would assume they would take responsibility to resolve problems (even if they resolve them and reimburse you it is still a headache and unwanted stress to have to deal with problems for which you are not responsible) as many Fodorites do speak higly of them, it would be my second choice. I still prefer to hire directly from Avis if I get roughly the same deal, (they have put their rates down a lot lately and even often give me a 10 per cent discount as a loyal customer) and would be willing to pay daily excess to put my mind at rest that if the slightest damage is made to the car I would not have any money withdrawn from my credit card. Plus, personally I have never encountered one single problem when renting from them for quite a few years now.

I guess every individual through their past experiences sticks to what they consider the best or what suits them - that is everyone's personal choice.
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