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Using a Credit Card Without Raised Numbers

My son and I spent a week in Paris last month. My unembossed (flat) Visa card worked everywhere . . . hotels, restaurants, tourist spots . . . until I tried to pick up a car from Europcar.

I had prepaid for a 2-day rental . . . got a great rate on the Europcar website, including a one-way drop-off in Lyon. The rental agent insisted on asking for an embossed card for some kind of security deposit. I felt like I'd taken a time machine back to 1975. Because I was stunned, I neglected to ask my son if he had an old fashioned card. So I canceled the reservation.

As we walked out of the office in a daze, my son fished through his wallet. He had one of those cards. So we walked back into the office and asked them to give us the Panda. They said they couldn't because I canceled that reservation. But they'd be happy to re-rent it to me (the exact same car) for twice the price. I accepted the offer to avoid more drama.

When I got back to the U.S. I had a bill for four times the cost of my original reservation. Never again will I use Europcar!

Posted by
3258 posts

Wow - what a (costly) pain! We've used Europcar in several countries and have generally been very happy with the cars, the service, and the price. That agent wasn't very resourceful - who hasn't had a clerk hand-write the credit card number on a set of carbon paper credit card slips when the slider machine wasn't working, or hand-enter a card number when a modern electric device wasn't reading the magnetic strip or the chip? Either that person was an unimaginative "rules are rules" drone (probably), or they truly were looking to stick a customer with an inflated price (hopefully not).

I trust you're disputing the 4x credit card charge with your card issuer. If the Europcar agent's manager wasn't available to resolve your situation the day you "canceled" and "rerented" the car, perhaps they can be reached to rectify the situation now. Do you have receipts for the original on-line reservation? Best of luck, and hope your next rental goes well.

Posted by
11 posts

Your diagnosis was accurate. The agent was an unimaginative "rules are rules" drone, and so was her manager. Neither one had any interest in addressing the problem. I was polite but my amazement of their 1970's technology was hard to hide.

I'll make a futile attempt to recoup some of the damage. But I'm not too optimistic because they'll probably show me the "fine print".

Thanks for commiserating!

Posted by
2229 posts

brian-do you mean that this office was in Paris? Please share which office it was so others will know to avoid it in the future. I have heard that some Europcar offices are franchises, perhaps that is part of the problem. In any event, please do share the precise location for others' benefit?

Posted by
11 posts

Etoile Foch
Face 8 Avenue Foch
Paris 75016

The taxi driver had a hard time finding it because it's in an underground parking garage.

My shock was partly due to the fact that I had used my "modern" Visa card fifteen minutes earlier in Rick's favorite hotel. Europcar was the only blemish on an otherwise fun-filled vacation.

Posted by
23545 posts

In case you think only that car company would reject that flat card, you might find it interesting that the very large British railway company that work for does not accept them either.

They are too easy to create fraudulently.

Posted by
2229 posts

That's interesting, Nigel, someone should tell Capitol One that as it's how my new card came. Is this a problem for others out there?

Posted by
11 posts

I'm OK with Europcar using 20th century technology. But they need to update their FAQ so their rigid policies don't ruin a family vacation.

Posted by
1406 posts

Credit cards with raised numbers are going the way of travelers checks and free airline meals. All my latest cards have that sexy new flat look, since all the info is encoded in the mag strip and that's all that is used anymore. And now that there's a chip too, looking at numbers is so old-fashioned.

However, sometimes here in the States you still see folks with a need to rub numbers so sometimes they will just slide a pen to get the imprint to work. So old school.

Posted by
5005 posts

So.... the problem is not the card, its the retailers who don't want to pay to upgrade their readers to deal with non- chip/pin cards?

Posted by
3275 posts

The previous batch of credit cards I got when they renewed from various banks were all the flat non-embossed type. Several merchants expressed concern about them when I had to hand the cards to them vs where I completed the transaction without handing the card over, but I never had one refused. Those are all being replaced this year with chip cards and guess what, they all (except for my United Airlines card) have the embossed number again, even Capital One. Guess they got enough complaints.

As far as being easy to fraudulently duplicate, that is a lame excuse for not taking the flat cards, especially if they are the chip versions. And if you are completing the transaction online (I know not really relevant to this specific situation), how will they know if your card is embossed or not?

Posted by
3275 posts

stan,

No, the card reader is not the issue in these cases. It is a merchant who doesn't believe a credit card that does not have embossed numbers on it is a valid card.

Posted by
2546 posts

I just received my new Capitalone360 debit card with a chip and the numbers are not raised. I find reaction to the unembossed card interesting. I once had a know-it-all at a party tell me in no uncertain terms that my card could be neither a debit card nor an ATM card without raised numbers and no matter how many times I confirmed that it was a debit card, he refused to believe it. But the good news is that when my husband's wallet was stolen and later found the only card left behind by the thieves was his Capitalone360 debit card.

Posted by
5435 posts

Wow that really stinks Brian. And that they turned around and charged you (twice/four times) your original reservation 30 seconds later!!!!!! That is just outrageous. I hope you're able to recoup some of your payment.

Posted by
11 posts

When the manager made it clear that my credit card was worthless, my only option was to cancel the reservation. The price suddenly doubled when she created a new reservation for the exact same car. The final charge on my credit card was twice that amount.

If I’m standing in front of you with a passport, a driver’s license and the credit card I used to make the reservation (on your website), what fraud would I be trying to perpetrate? You can’t outrun the gendarmerie in a Fiat Panda.

Posted by
3275 posts

JHK

Yes, my Cap One 360 Debit card is one of the flat ones. And still no chip either.

Funny thing is when they sent this one to me, it had nothing on it at all except my name. No numbers of any kind, no expiry dates - nothing. Guess that makes for a secure account that way, right? They replaced it about 2 weeks later with one that had everything printed on it. Both still work just fine in ATMs.

Posted by
4468 posts

Credit / debit cards without embossing are pretty rare in Europe. In the UK for example they have been pretty much confined to such things as Visa Electron cards, which require online communication to verify the balance, and these used to be issued often to people with only basic bank accounts or under 18. As a result of this set up they cannot be used in businesses with offline processing, common in the like of trains etc. Now the cards in question may not be of this type, but unless it is clear what it is businesses may be reluctant to even try to take them.

Posted by
768 posts

I am traveling in France right now and have the new Capital One Venture Card and have had no problems with it except at highway tool booths,not accepted and at gas stations you must go inside to complete your transaction as our cards are not chip & pin,they are chip and sign.I have rented from Hertz for the last 20 years and never had a problem,driving one right now,good luck on getting your money back from Europecar
Mike

Posted by
11738 posts

The only reason for the raised letters was the old machine that put an image on carbon copies. I haven't seen one in use since the early 90's (maybe a taxi cab here and there, but even they use a smart phone attachment now).

The two ways people record your card this millennium is to either scan the magnetic strip on the back or the chip in the newer cards.

Your experience sounds more like Italy than France (where they consider it an art-form to get around ridiculous rules). Did you remember to say bonjour before you began your interaction? It sounds like they were trying to give you a hard time.

Posted by
11 posts

I didn't say bon jour but I was smiling from ear to ear. My son and I thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Paris, thanks in large part to the personal service we received at Rick's favorite hotel.

It's a shame that we left Paris on a low note. Despite the poor Europcar service, we can't wait to go back next year . . . to rent scooters!