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sandys Jul 12th, 2007 05:51 PM

Why does Hertz discriminate against US Citizens???
I've been comparing rates for an auto rental in Florence, Italy from the various auto rental companies. We need a large automatic car for four people and lots of luggage, which is very expensive. We're all in our late 60s, so don't remember how to drive a stick shift - and don't want to relearn in Italy!!!

During my research, I came across a discount Rate Code for Hertz - WOW (World on Wheels) which I tried using on the Hertz US site along with our AAA discount code. The Rate Code WOW was rejected on the US site. When I tried the Hertz UK site, the Rate Code WOW was accepted, along with the AAA code - but only if you identified yourself as a UK citizen!

The two week quote for a BMW 320D Touring Auto for UK citizens using the RQ: WOW was 612.24 GBP ($1,242.08). The two week rate quote for US citizens was 1335.84 EUR ($1,841.07) Therefore, US citizens pay more than 48% more than British citizens for the same car in the same Italian city.

I sent an email to Hertz asking if there was a similar code that US citizens could use, and of course received no reply.

This is blatant discrimination!

Aramis Jul 12th, 2007 06:00 PM

No, it's selective marketing. They are offering coupons in markets where they want to develop business.

Do you call it discrimination when a retailer targets you for a special discount based on your zip code (they are all mapped out according to things like income, etc.)?

This behaviour is quite common in the car rental business and you can work around it - with effort. They never check the citizenship against the rental application.

richardsonsnm Jul 12th, 2007 06:16 PM

sandys; I am almost certain that you cannot drive the Mercedes that you are looking at in Italy through Hertz. Anyway, Hertz does not guarantee the car you are reserving online, it is that OR something similiar. I have had a problem finding any Hertz or Avis Premium car that would even be allowed in Italy. I went with Bob the Navigators advice to use Auto Europe and got a nice audi for my next trip in sept.

rex Jul 12th, 2007 06:40 PM

<< We're all in our late 60s, so don't remember how to drive a stick shift - and don't want to relearn in Italy!!! >>

Okay, here is the reality. No matter what car rental company you choose (or which company is chosen for you by AutoEurope), cars with automatic transmissions are far, far less common in their inventory. Some days they might have one, or a few in inventory; some days they might have none. Whatever you reserve, an automatic transmission will almost always be "on request"... if the customer fails to return on time with the automatic they had in mind for you, you may be faced with the choice of a standard transmission car, or none at all.

I recommend that _someone_ in your party &quot;re-learn&quot; if that's what you need to do. Better here, than in the parking lot - - oh, I forgot... you said Florence... you can be certain they <b><u><i>won't have</i></u></b> a parking lot! The car will be brought up to the curb outside the tiny little office on Via Borgo Ognissanti. You'll be &quot;re-learning&quot; to shift on city streets.

I'm not saying that this happens all the time - - but if there is a 5% chance of your not getting an autoamtic that you thought you had reserved - - wouldn't you feel better if someone had re-acquainted themselves with a clutch?

Best wishes,


Sher Jul 12th, 2007 07:59 PM

Hi Sandys. I think it may be as Aramis explains. This is selective marketing much the same way as certain airline prices are less expensive for different markets.

That said, you have to be more creative in your searches. We have rented cars in Europe at least ten times. We always rent an automatic. They have always provided us with a car. That is not to say that you will not have difficulty a little more with an automatic request.

I would think outside the box of the normal car rental companies. Try these and see what you come up with. All of these I have checked at various times for Italy.

Good luck.

These are car brokers and will place you with a company.

tower Jul 12th, 2007 08:08 PM

Shel and Sandy:

Your troubles would just begin after you solve the pricing. Driving a full-size car (Mercedes or van or whatever), through the pencil narrow streets of many Italian towns and villages will drive you bonkers. Parking will be exceptionally difficult if not impossible.

Not trying to rain on your parade, just trying to make you aware of the real problem...especially if you're stuck with a stick shift, which compounds the problem if you're not used to it.

I do sincerely hope things will work out for you. Good luck and happy travels.

We normally use AutoEurope wherever we travel, and have never been disapointed with them. Call their USA number (Portland, Maine), 800-223-5555 (they are associated with Kemwel, also)

Stu T.

Betsy Jul 12th, 2007 08:14 PM

You may not want to hear this, but another way of addressing the size of your rental car would be to take less luggage. Why do you need &quot;lots of luggage&quot;? Restrict each traveler to a 21- or 22-inch bag and a carry-on. Lest you say it's impossible, that's exactly what I carried to Australia for a four-week trip covering several climates last year.

There are zillions of posts in the archives with info on how to pack lightly. You may want to bring those up and pack accordingly. Then you won't need a ginormous (a word now in the dictionary) car.

Big cars are a pain in Europe anyway. Parking spots are scarce, parking lots are small, and the streets amd roads are often very narrow.

I think you would be happier with a different strategy.

janisj Jul 12th, 2007 08:24 PM

1) autoEurope is your friend
2) &quot;Lots of luggage&quot; will be a problem whichever car you rent
3) Huge cars are a <b>huge</b> PITA in most parts of Europe.

Cut back on the amount of luggage, rent a reasonable sized car through Autoeurope, and save hundreds of $$$

tower Jul 12th, 2007 08:26 PM

Shel and Sandy:

I fully agree with Betsy's comments. My wife and I limit ourselves to 1 22&quot; each and one small carry on duffel each...and we've been traveling that way since the rollers came into vogue.
And many tinmes we're away for a month or more...doesn't gets easier as you get older, believe me...the lighter the load the happier I get..wife has come around to this way of thinking and wouldn't change now for anything....although for years she moaned about it. Don't tell her I said so. Several times we've trraveles wit another couple, and insisted they do the we could rent a compact.
Think it over..
Stu T.

dutyfree Jul 12th, 2007 09:26 PM

Obviously, you have not booked an airline ticket and other things in India-if you are not a resident you are offered a way higher price! I was appalled when recently purchasing an airline ticket for my son who is over doing an internship-every site for India and purchasing appears to offer an &quot;in resident of India deal&quot;.

J62 Jul 12th, 2007 09:48 PM

I have never come across a site that asks you to specify citizenship. Country of residence, yes, but citizenship no. Big difference.

GSteed Jul 12th, 2007 10:46 PM

First...truck traffic operates with little difficulty in Europe. Hence, any size car can do the same. One driver could take an hour driving lesson...Hire a mini-bus and driver! Enjoy your trip.

Odin Jul 13th, 2007 12:06 AM

If you are a non US resident renting a car in the US, the rates are much more expensive than for US residents.

It's not unusual for air fares to be available for &quot;residents&quot; of a country especially India.

Visit USA (probably does not exist anymore) air fares were only available to non US residents arriving internationally into the US.

There are other air fares only available in the country of commencement of travel.

It can happen with hotels too.

jody Jul 13th, 2007 04:11 AM

I know everyone touts AutoEurope , but I've found much better deals with Novacarhire all inclusive rates. You don't have to pre-pay, just a small deposit, and you pay the company directly when you return the car.

alanRow Jul 13th, 2007 04:26 AM

&lt;&lt;&lt; ...truck traffic operates with little difficulty in Europe. Hence, any size car can do the same &gt;&gt;&gt;

Except that the people driving the trucks have learnt to drive in Europe and have been driving in Europe for several years and that trucks DON'T go down every narrow street - in some cases they off load somewhere else for the delivery

walkinaround Jul 13th, 2007 04:49 AM

i don't believe that hertz has different prices based on citizenship status. this would be illegal in the EU.

audere_est_facere Jul 13th, 2007 04:55 AM

It could also be based on the fact that Americans are more likely to have accidents than natives as they aren't used to driving cars with gear sticks, or driving in narrow streets, parrallel parking in tight spaces etc.

sandys Jul 13th, 2007 12:12 PM

Thanks for all the advice. We still plan to get an automatic car, but plan to take the advice of others and take less luggage so that we can get a smaller automatic car.

We plan to avoid Hertz, since I don't appreciate their &quot;selective marketing&quot;. I don't believe that US drivers are more of a menace than UK drivers in Italy, since the British drive on the left. And we plan to rent an automatic car only, since that is what we are all used to. (If we drove a stick shift, we would be a menace.)

I fully understand countries giving discounts to their own citizens. We've run into this in many locations. But this requested rental is in a third country - so that isn't pertinent to this discrepancy in rates. Perhaps Hertz is trying to build up their business in England, but the 48% difference in rates also doesn't sit well with me.

We will either rent from AutoEurope or Economy Car Rentals.

There are lots of recommendations for AutoEurope on this board, so we would feel confident renting from them.

Has anyone had experience with Economy Car Rentals - renting an automatic car from them?

janisj Jul 13th, 2007 12:19 PM

You won't be renting from autoeurope. They are a broker that fits you to the best rental company for your plans/type of car/country - and you could very well end up in w/ Hertz . . . .

(BTW - have you considered that Hertz US has a different discount code that works the same as this mysterious WOW? )

kenderina Jul 13th, 2007 12:19 PM

I don't know if the discount applies to them but if it doesn't..would the italians (or the spaniards or any other nationality but UK) think they are being discriminated ? :) The fares are the same for everybody...but they can do a discount for a promotion where they want to. As airlines also do :)

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