PROBLEMS WITH BUDGET

Rented a car from Budget USA, budget.com, pick-up and return Naples, Italy for two weeks October 2012. Budget's Terms and Conditions specified that it was allowable to take the car to Croatia, if you return the car to Naples. Paid for ferry tickets, including the car, from Bari, Italy to Dubrovnik, Croatia and return. We informed the Budget office in Naples of our plans for travel to Croatia. They said "No problem". Was not allowed to take the car on the ferry. Ferry company said Budget did not provide proper documentation. Ferry left at 10:00 PM, no one to call at Budget.
Left the car in Bari for six days while in Croatia. I believe I am entitled to compensation for the six days the car was unavailable due to Budget's error in not including proper vehicle documentation. Budget has refused to compensate me for the lost rental time. Would appreciate any help.

Posted by Dina
Fontainebleau, France
893 posts

Did you ask if you could take the car to Croatia, or did you say something like, "We will be taking the car on the ferry to Croatia. We will need the following documentation...Could you please provide it?" Because one thing I have learned after living in France for years is that in this area, the burden of responsibility is usually on the individual. You'll only get answers to the questions you ask, and not have additional information volunteered. In other words, asking if you can do something, will get you a yes/no response and not a "Yes, if you..." response. The responsibility would have been on you to find out what was needed to take a rental car on the ferry. This could be a hard one to win.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8757 posts

This is a duplicate of a message from days ago and also a copy of another in another section of the helpline. Just plastering the Helpline with multiple copies of the same complaint is not a proven method of achieving sympathy or success.

Posted by David
Sacramento, CA, USA
205 posts

Nigel- You need to learn how to read. The original post was on 12-8 in the Italy section. He was directed in that thread to put it in General Europe and apparently did so in follow up to that suggestion; and now is jumped on-just brilliant. The short answer is Europe is NOT America. People have different mindsets. You can't expect a clerk at the counter to prepare everything thing you need....Taking cars over different borders, especially out of the EU- YOU must determine (aka planning) what you need to have in terms of documentation, insurnce etc. Hard way to learn but I'd treat it just as that, a learnig experience and move onl

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7976 posts

Nigel's point is valid. The question is also currently appearing in Transportation. EU membership is not the issue. There are car movement problems between parts of the EU as well as a lack of problems taking a car to some non-EU nations. The problem stemmed from the ferry. He probably could have driven to Croatia and back. Nigel can probably read.

Posted by Don
Madison Heights, VA, USA
9 posts

Thanks for replies. My problem is with Budget USA. Three written confirmations of cross country travel, Italy to Croatia, plus verbal confirmation at the check-in desk. My opinion is that Budget USA is at fault for wrongly assuring me that there would be no problems with my stated plan to take the car to Croatia.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7976 posts

Don Did you address the ferry business with Budget, or just the fact that you were heading for Croatia?

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8757 posts

Did you say to the chap/ess at the counter something like, "Is there anything else I need to know/have"? And did s/he say something like, "no you'll be fine"? About this documentation. - . I know when I take my car from England into another country (I use the tunnel between England and France and have previously used the ferries) I have to have the original (not a copy) car registration and ownership document - called a Logbook in the UK - and the original insurance document and statement of cover in other countries, which is often referred to by its old name of green card. I've never been asked for them but I always have them, easily available. There have been lots of cars, so I understand from British TV, which have left western Europe for Eastern Europe and have never come back. There's the off chance that the ferry dude/ette was trying to stem the flow of such cars. Every one that disappears costs everyone in higher prices for insurance. BTW- I can read. I do read. I am careful in what I reply to and I am careful in what I write. Duplicate messages confuse the helpers here and often confuse the original poster, too. If there hadn't been duplicate posts there would have been no reason for somebody to be rude to me.

Posted by Tom
Chicago
2876 posts

This seems obvious, but do you still have your original rental agreement? If so, check the fine print. Some rental companies expressly forbid taking the car onto ferries. I think it has mostly to do with insurance issues. If your rental agreement expressly prohibits ferry travel, you're out of luck.

Posted by Don
Madison Heights, VA, USA
9 posts

Apologies for multiple posting. New poster. Wasn't sure which one applies. Have a written contract with Budget USA that specifies cross border travel. The following is the exact wording from Budget USA's rental contract: .• Cross border traffic: One-way rentals not allowed. Cars may be driven into the following countries and returned to the renting country: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, UK, Ireland, Iceland, Luxemburg, Norway, Holland, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland. Renter is not permitted to take the Budget rental vehicle into Albania, Cis, Hungary,
Poland, Bulgaria, Belarus, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Russia, Serbia, Herzegovina, Romania, Ex Yugoslavia,(Bosnia etc), Greece, Lettonia, Czech and Slovak Republics, Ukraine, Moldavia (and all eastern countries), Africa, Malta, Cyprus or the Middle east. Please note the third country listed. Croatia. In addition to the written contract I have a chat transcript with Budget USA, once again asking confirmation of cross border traffic and specifically informing Budget of our intentions to take the car on the ferry. In that transcript, Budget is asked about the ferry and Croatia, and Budget states that is allowed, both going to Croatia and using the ferry.

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
2900 posts

Don, Christopher Elliot (www.elliott.org) is a consumer advocate in the travel industry. If you go to his website, he has a link on the right where you can send a request for help with a problem. It sounds like you have already disputed the charge with Budget. Did you do this in writing? If not, I'd suggest that you document the facts and file the complaint in writing. Sometimes the whole story is not captured over the phone by a Customer Service Representative.

Posted by Dina
Fontainebleau, France
893 posts

Don - I hate to repeat what I already typed, but what exactly did you ask Budget? Did you ask them if you could take the car onto the ferry to Croatia? Or did you ask them if they would provide the necessary paperwork for you to take the car on the ferry? (And then proceed to tell them what that paperwork is?) Because the burden of responsibility would be on you to be informed of what you need and then make sure you get it from the rental agency. Just asking if you can - a simple yes/no question - isn't enough for cases like this.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8757 posts

Don't you read the terms and conditions? You probably indicated somewhere that you had done. My guess is when you make your claim they may say that you would need to have been familiar with road traffic laws and the conditions of carriage of the ferries.

Posted by Don
Madison Heights, VA, USA
9 posts

Reply to Dina. I agree the responsibility is mine to understand the the contract terms. I informed Budget of my intentions, allowed by the contract. They acknowledged and approved my intentions. The clerk at check-in did the same. I do not believe it is my responsibility to inspect the car to determine if it is equipped properly. As a U.S. customer I would not have and would not be expected to know what piece of paper or otherwise is required for cross border travel. My intentions, being known to both parties and being within contract terms should have been sufficient. My opinion, Budget USA did not abide by the terms of their own contract.

Posted by Tom
Chicago
2876 posts

I lifted this from the Jadrolinija website (one of the ferry lines between Bari & Dubrovnik), under "General Terms": "On International lines for all vehicles ( including rent-a-car) original documents are required. Certified copies are not accepted." Nigel mentioned this issue before. Maybe the problem was that you didn't have originals of the car's registration, etc. I guess the question is whether it's on you to know not only Budget's rules, but also those of your ferry company. (I'm assuming all ferry companies on that route have the same rules.)

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7683 posts

David, this question was ALSO posted in Trip Reports - where he was advised to post it in Transportation or General Europe. Nigel does know how to read.

Posted by Don
Madison Heights, VA, USA
9 posts

Tom Chicago. Thanks all for the comments. Yes, the ferry company may have there requirements and Budget should be fully aware of those requirements if they are in the business of allowing cross border travel and when the customer has received confirmation that the travel is allowed. My contract is with Budget. I should expect the car to be properly equipped with whatever documentation is necessary to fulfill the contract.

Posted by Michael
Des Moines, IA
2155 posts

You keep referring to your expectations relative to the contract you signed, but I suspect you have zero legal recourse if that's what you're thinking. You really have just two options here: (1) Forget about it and get on with your life. Chalk it up as a learning experience, and know that you'll be a better traveler next time around. (2) Keep appealing up the corporate chain of command and hope you find someone who gives a shyte...they might take pity on you and may even give you a partial credit...who knows? In the end, it really is your responsibility to know these things (might sound harsh, but it's correct). If one rents a car in France, drives into German cities without the proper environmental stickers/permits, and then gets fined, would he really have expected the rental agency to pre-notify him of this possibility? Same goes for driving the Austrian Autobahn without a toll sticker, driving through Italian ZTL zones without a permit, etc. It's one of the big drawbacks to driving in a foreign country – you may not be fully aware of all the laws, rules, and regulations, but it is your responsibility...period. Good luck...would be interested to know how this turns out.

Posted by David
Sacramento, CA, USA
205 posts

Donplease type in the exact language from the contract that outlines the use of the vehicle in Croatia. I have serious doubts it is there...

Posted by Nicholas
Seattle, Washington, United States
282 posts

Hey Don, I don't think you are going to get too far with this, and another website like the comsumerist would be suited for maximizing your impact, whatever it may be. To me, this looks a little like a he said/she said situation. Yes, the contract states that you are allowed to go to Croatia, but at the same time I don't think you are right that "As a U.S. customer would not have and would not be expected to know what piece of paper or otherwise is required for cross border travel." When you buy an airline ticket, you are responsible for knowing what visas are needed and when you rent a car, then you need to know about what is required for where you want to go. If the need for the insurance card was a tightly kept secret, I could see your side, but the type of cards you are talking about are 1) widely known to be needed (there are plenty of things around the web on the need for the "green card" to take a car into Croatia) and 2) is not a normal part their rental business. I think that some of the responsibility falls on you to make sure you have the proper documentation, and know what the documentation required is. I don't think that there is a clear case that Budget is in the wrong here. Sorry. :/

Posted by Lexma
Denver
536 posts

Don - Sorry to hear you had these problems. I'm a lawyer, though not a lawyer who specializes in international law. But in reading what you provided, I note that the rental contract said "Cars may be driven into the following countries...Croatia...." To be very specific, it's possible that taking a ferry into a country (with car on board) is not deemed to be the same thing as driving a car into that country. You did what you could with the rental company to confirm the requirements. You should have confirmed, however, with the ferry company and Croatia laws that you could take a rental car into the country, and on the ferry, and what documentation you might need. (I've got to say, though, that I'm not sure that I would have thought to confirm that I could take a rental car on a ferry - my research would probably have stopped when I found out all of Croatia's entrance requirements. So I would have had the same problem you did.) That being said, the axiom "ignorance of the law is no excuse" is pretty generally true, no matter which country you're talking about. In the end, it is your responsibility to ensure that you abide by the laws, rules and regulations applicable to you. I would suggest that you keep on trying with Budget, but know that you may have to chalk this up as a loss. If it's any consolation, I'm sure most of us have had unfortunate travel situations at one time or another. We had one on a trip this year, where we had to purchase four entirely new same-day tickets for a trip from Paris to Brussels because the validity on our e-tickets expired before we even left the U.S., but we didn't know. It hurts, but the bottom line is, these things happen.

Posted by Don
Madison Heights, VA, USA
9 posts

Yes all. Probably will be a classic "caveat emptor" situation. Frustrating though given the average consumer approach to buying services. Do your homework and believe you have all the information to make an informed purchase.
Budget was in the loop of my intentions to cross on a ferry to Croatia. Transcript of Budget on-line chat specifically says "Yes you can take the car on the ferry." Shame, because I prefer the freedom of a rental car in Europe. Been doing it for over 30 years without any problems. Times, I guess are a-changing. Final appeal to the Chairman and CEO of Budget. Will advise on how it turns out.

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3206 posts

Good luck Don. I hope it goes in your favor.

Posted by Jeff
Bend, OR, United States
1145 posts

Budget saying "You can take the car on the ferry" is about the same as them saying "You can park the car on the street" and you really can't expect them to know where street parking is and isn't allowed or what each ferry company's policies and requirements are.

Posted by Sarah
Canada, eh
58 posts

You are responsible for following the laws of the country you are in when traveling overseas. That includes ensuring that you have the proper documentation to take a rental car overseas. Just because you can book an airline ticket from the U.S. to Rio De Janeiro doesn't mean that you don't need a visa to enter Brazil. It's not the airline's responsibility to tell you, it's your responsibility to do your homework about what you need in order to enter Brazil. Same with the car. You asked if you could take the car to Croatia. It's the car rental company's job to answer your question with regard to company policy. Yes, they will allow you to take the car to Croatia. It is not their job to tell you exactly what you need to have to transport it to that country. It is your responsibility to find out what you need and to ask them for it, just like it would be your responsibility to apply for a visa to Brazil and not the airline's job to do it for you.

Posted by Don
Madison Heights, VA, USA
9 posts

FAITH RESTORED Reference: Budget Rental Car not allowed on ferry to Croatia from Italy At the suggestion of a fellow member of the Rick Steves community, I wrote to the CEO/Chairman of Budget/Avis Rental Car concerning my dissatisfaction with not being able to take my Budget rental car on the ferry from Italy to Croatia all though my contract allowed such travel. My complaint was for the inconvenience and loss of use of the car while I was in Croatia. I received a call from the office of the CEO of Budget/Avis Rental Car on January 4, 2013, said that I was treated unfairly and that I would be refunded the charges for the days the car was unavailable. A wrong was made right. My confidence in Budget has been restored.
Also, I am confirmed in believing that I had a legitimate case. Thanks to all who had comments and opinions. Yes, I will be renting cars from Budget/Avis in the future.

Posted by Letty
Santa Barbara
1 posts

Don, congratulations on getting that issue resolved to your satisfaction. We are contemplating doing something similar, picking up a car in Venice and driving down to Bari, taking the ferry across to Dubrovnik and working our way up the coast and back to Venice. Anticipating the same problems you encountered, I'm wondering if you've determined exactly what documents are required by the ferry company? Also, if the original car registration is required, how would I know if what's in the glove compartment is the original and not a copy, since I've never looked closely at an Italian registration form before? Thanks