Please sign in to post.

BEWARE !!! Car Rental at VCE from Hertz

This is the info I sent to a collection agency in response to a claim submitted by Hertz at VCE (Venice Airport).:

The claim is based on our rental of a Hertz car at VCE (Venice, IT) on 17 May 2015, the car was returned on 02 Jun 2015. Our flight was at approximately 6:00 a.m., so we returned the rental car around 5:00 a.m., no attendant was present to inspect the car. My wife took pictures of the car both before and after rental, the claim from Hertz (dated 28 Sep 2015) did not arrive until early Oct 2015, and by this time my wife had deleted the photos, as her camera was full of vacation and family photos.
The damage to the car, shown in the pictures provided by Hertz VCE was not present at return, and as the car was in the parking lot for at least an hour prior to the arrival of Hertz personnel, must have happened after our drop-off.

Additionally we paid 99.16 Euros for up to 1800 Euro in collision damage. The original damage claim was for only 148.00, well below 1800 Euros.

Posted by
6544 posts

You should be thankful the City of Venice didn't catch you on their radar/camera on the causeway going over to Venice. At 1.2 mph over the approx. 35 mph speed limit, drivers are dead ducks.
The fine was around $150, and they want tickets paid to the city's checking account in Euros.
Hertz charges credit cards about $45 administration fees for telling police departments who had the car and where they live. Notifications will come almost a year after the infraction.

Sorry you had trouble with Hertz. I've found them to be one of the better rental companies--operating like they do in the U.S. I don't believe they're franchised like so many big name European car rental operations.

Posted by
11702 posts

Unfortunately, if it has gone to a collection agency you have little chance of success in your dispute. Or did you try to resolve it first with Hertz? That would have been a better path. It is too bad your wife deleted the photos as it just your word against theirs now.

Posted by
20729 posts

Not following at all -- If you had insurance, why wasn't a claim filed with the insurance? Or was the insurance only collision? Since you have no proof of your position why not pay the 148 and cross it off to a bad experience? Why let a collection agency and their extra fees double or triple what you have to pay? Only bad things happen with collection agencies. They can serious ding your credit without a judgement. Obviously if it went to collection there has been a fair amount of cross talk. It is over 14 months ago. But it also would have been dark at that time so maybe you never had good pictures or the damage would be very hard to see in the pictures using a flash. Or, just maybe, you didn't see the damage. A hundred and forty-eight sounds like a couple of scratches or dings. A big dent would be much more than $148.

I think the headline should be, Keep your picture and be sure to document the condition of the car when you return it. I don't think Hertz has done anything illegal. underhanded, or worthy of being called a scam. You could have had a similar problem with any rental agency. It is your responsibility.

Posted by
2353 posts

It is not unusual that issues from European car rentals do not catch up for months. Too bad wife deleted the photos - maybe find a cloud in the future.

I too am confused - you had insurance?

Posted by
5 posts

We did try to resolve the problem with Hertz in Venice, and the collection agency was their response. What I don't understand is if they have no personnel on site to check the vehicle in, how are we responsible for what happened.

Posted by
1700 posts

Also confused, either you paid the insurance and the insurance should cover it one way or the other.

Talking with Hertz to show them you paid insurance to Hertz when renting the car should clear up the 148 euro bill easily.
Maybe your insurance is with a 3rd party or consolidator and in that case you should be able to pay the 148 euro and then have that 3rd party you bought insurance from reimburse you.
Your statement of up to 1800 euro damage also does not make sense, I have never seen the insurance maximum capped at such a low figure?
Either scenario pictures do not matter at all so it does not matter that you took and lost pictures or are disputing you did the damage. Just forget about those aspects and let insurance figure it out.

If you did not buy the insurance you had to know of the high level of risk involved on your deposit and in that case returning when no one was there to log you in with no damage, plus lost any pictures you had you have to in part consider yourself lucky to get only hit with 148 euro in fees. Even if you had pictures this would be a he said / she said argument that you would probably lose. Since you did not pay for insurance that cost is really not that much different than the cost of insurance would be and means you got the majority of your deposit back so I don't understand why you are upset.

Posted by
2578 posts

"What I don't understand is if they have no personnel on site to check the vehicle in, how are we responsible for what happened." Because you are responsible for damage to the car until an employee of the company checks the car and signs off on its condition. After (or in your case, before) hours drop-offs are always done at the renter's risk. They could flip the question on you: If you wanted to be sure that personnel checked the vehicle, why didn't you drop it off when our offices were open?

Posted by
9 posts

Having had a similar experience in the US with Alamo—from whom I'll never rent again—I completely understand why the original poster made his/her comment. It's an important warning for all of us, reminding us to (1) take and keep photos, (2) try to avoid returning a vehicle when there is not likely to be an attendant present to check it in, and (3) make sure you have appropriate insurance that will cover this type of scam.

In my case, I also naïvely returned the car before the company's office was open, and did not think to take photos. Before leaving, I inspected the car closely, looking for even a scratch. It was perfectly clean and undamaged. I got a bill 2-3 months later for $1000. My insurance company guy later told me that a rental-car staffer had told him that frequently staff drive cars around parking garages or elsewhere, happen to run into another car, and laugh, saying "guess the renter will be paying for that one."

Even though ultimately my insurance paid for the supposed damage and did not raise my rates, I never want to go through that again. I hope others might find the original poster's warning a helpful reminder.

Posted by
4152 posts

Unfortunately, even with photos you are still responsible for the condition of the car until an attendant checks it in. If you have a copy of your rental contract with the extra insurances paid for you should submit a copy to them as that should cover the damages.

Donna

Posted by
6953 posts

For European rentals, if people rent through a consolidator such as AutoEurope or Europe-by-Car, the consolidator acts as a middle man and clears up the problem immediately. We should add that to the warning list.

Posted by
2578 posts

I think that one of the things that confuses people is the fact that there is after hours drop off meaning that you can leave the keys somewhere and after that happens the renter no longer can access or drive the vehicle. As the result, the renter, having relinquished control of the vehicle believes that he or she is no longer liable for the vehicle. And, that is just not the case. Even if you have pictures of the condition that you left the vehicle in, risk of loss does not switch to the car rental company until they have checked in the vehicle. A few years ago, we left a car at a rental car company after hours in Cannes. We took time-stamped pictures of everything, including the gas gauge which showed that the tank was full. A couple of weeks later a large charge for damage and fuel hit our credit card. We disputed the charges and American Express agreed and reversed them. Our working theory is that an employee drove the car and then damaged it and then either he or she had the gall to charge us not only for the damage to the car but the gasoline that was used for the jaunt or parked the car in the lot and said nothing and let another employee blame us for the damage. Without the "proof" that we turned in the car with a full tank of gas, we would have had a much tougher time contesting the damage claim. It's really not a Hertz Venice "thing" but more of an automobile rental industry "thing" with after hours drop-offs.

Posted by
3846 posts

What Bets said - we rented with Europcar via AutoEurope. We put a lovely scratch down the side of the car in a parking garage. I had used the AmEX specifically for the insurance coverage (this was in France...isn't it mandatory to have coverage with the rental places in Italy?? OR am I misunderstanding something). I tried and tried for more than a month to get Europcar to send me a breakdown of the charges to send to Amex and never anything. Finally, I contacted AutoEurope and within 48 hrs I had all the pertinent info I needed to submit the claim and get refunded.

Posted by
1700 posts

Nicole: not to get off topic but American Express card coverage for rental cars does not apply in Italy (Amex exempts a few countries, Italy is one of them)
In Italy coverage is mandatory and included in the base rate but comes with a high deductible (maybe 1200 euro) so the first 1200 euro is on the renter and will be taken as a deposit when you rent.
You can pay this down all the way to 0 deductible by buying extra insurance.
The rental agencies sell this insurance and 3rd parties sell this insurance as well.
If you buy from a 3rd party, you still have to give the large deposit and pay for any damages, then submit a claim for reimbursement from the 3rd party. f you buy from the rental agency you walk away with no concerns of paying a penny and do not need to have a 1000 euro plus deposit going against your credit card limit.

This confuses most renters and unless the OP explains what type of insurance they bought this thread cannot go anywhere. If they bought no extra zero deductible insurance than they really have no claim in this case if they had their photos or not since they dropped the car off at an unmanned location.
They may have bought insurance from a 3rd party and are not understanding they have to pay first out of pocket and then submit for reimbursement and instead it sounds like they are letting this get to a debt collector which sounds messy and may be too late for them to do anything.

Posted by
7191 posts

And you can simplify these kinds of messes by never returning a car outside of normal business hours (always make sure an attendant is on duty and get a receipt) OR take the train. Some people talk about all the "freedom" that rental cars provide to you - not so! There are too many pitfalls when renting vehicles.

Posted by
6953 posts

The take-away is to never leave a car before opening hours. In addition to the OP, two other contributors had the same scam experience, not in Italy but in North America. So it's not only Hertz, though Hertz is in the title of this thread.

In addition, for the OP, the charges took months to get to his home address, kicking in the collection agency charges--if I understand this correctly.

Posted by
2815 posts

It's extremely likely that the damage occurred one or several renters later and not in the lot when it was dropped off before opening. These instances are common and they happen everywhere. Even turning the car in and having it checked over doesn't prevent these types of cases, they can come after you 6 months to a year later even if the attendant gives you an all clear upon return.

Posted by
2578 posts

Yes, but if the attendant gave you the all clear at drop off, you have the argument that the rental car company should have notified you of the problem earlier.

Posted by
2815 posts

Read Chris Elliot's travel column, he covers this issue all the time and often the attendant has given the all clear and problems still arise months later. The company can and will claim that it doesn't matter if the attendant spotted the "damage" or not.

Posted by
2578 posts

If you read closely the cases mentioned in the Chris Elliott stories, the customer wins when there is a claim made months after a car has been accepted by the rental company's employee because the car rental company has to prove that the damage happened on the particular renter's watch. Yes, the car rental company can say whatever they want or mistakenly try to collect from the wrong renter (and apparently, they try to do that often), but when it comes time to pay, the customer who fights it without giving up will win every time unless there is proof that the damage happened on the customer's watch. The problem with after or before hours drop-off is that the customer's "watch" covers the period from the time the car is returned until an employee checks the car.

Posted by
5 posts

Excellent point, thank you for mentioning the time stamps on Hertz's photos. I checked again and there are no date stamps on the photos provided by Hertz. We are currently working with Chris Elliott and the collections agency.

I think it may help that we have perfect credit, and only a mortgage. We have also never received a collections letter in either of lives, and we are 58 and 53. I feel it is a moral obligation to pay ones debts, but I also feel that one should fight when someone is attempting to defraud you.

My wife has to rent a car in Italy as her father is 96 years old, and living in a casa de reposa (nursing home) in a small village north of Venice. I have always liked renting cars for the flexibility and convenience, but I may have check-out Uber.

Posted by
6953 posts

Good for you. Best of luck and please let us know what happens.

Posted by
5 posts

After posting my case on several travel forums, I received some good feedback, and I have some further information to add:
1) The photos provided by Hertz Italy, have no date stamp, so Hertz Italy is unable prove when they were taken.
2) The initial paperwork provided by Hertz shows 6,246 kilometers on the car’s odometer on 17 May 2016 . The photo provided by Hertz Italy, shows 8,656 kilometers on the odometer, that is purportedly on 02 Jun 2016. The difference is 2,410 kilometers, that we are assumed to have drive from 17 May 2015, to 02 Jun 2015.
a. We made one round trip from VCE, to Fanna, Italy, per Google maps and using the way we went it is 240 kilometers round trip.
b. We made one day trip to Venice, and parked in the main parking garage next to the people mover, per Google maps and the way we went it is 254 kilometers round trip.
c. The casa de reposa that my father-in-law lives in is approximately 2 kilometers from his house, and I’m assuming a bit of driving around in Fanna, which per Wikipedia has a population of 1,574 people, meaning we didn’t drive far. So I’m estimating 10 kilometers per day, times 12 days (first and last days are not counted, as they are travel days and included in the round trip, to and from VCE) for a total of 120 kilometers.
d. We like to drive to the Citta Feira Mall in Udine, as they have a very nice grocery store and Wi-Fi. We usually go every other day, as we like to get our e-mail, and download newspapers, not to mention buy groceries. Per Google maps it is an 84 kilometer roundtrip. Six roundtrips to the mall times 84 kilometers, equals 504 kilometers.
e. The sum total of 240 kilometers, 254 kilometers, 120 kilometers, and 504 kilometers = 1,118 kilometers.
f. The difference in my driving estimate, and the amount of driving shown by the evidence provided by Hertz Italy, is a dramatic 1,292 kilometers!!!
g. The difference is so great that even if I forgot a few minor trips, as it has been 15 months, there is no way to account for 1,292 kilometers other than to conclude that someone else drove the car, after we returned it to Hertz Italy at VCE.

3) We paid for three different line items of insurance coverage:
a. Collision Damage Waiver = 99.16 Euros
b. Theft Protection = 82.82 Euros
c. Personal Insurance = 42.00 Euros
Total Cost for Insurance = 223.98 Euros
Using an exchange rate of $1.15, the total cost in Dollars we paid for insurance =$257.58.
Leading me to ask, what does the insurance actually cover!!!

Posted by
99 posts

Well, the whole car rental scene is getting risky for the consumer -- not just overseas, but also in the U.S. We got tagged st CDG three years ago to the tune of 450€ for damage to a rocker panel. We weren't guilty. But I didn't argue because they didn't charge us for some other damage that was our fault.

But, this year we decided to do the zero deductible which we prepaid thru AutoEurope. When we picked up the car at Hertz, the agent made a hard run at us to sell us additional insurance. He rattled off a whole list of things that were not covered by the zero deductible policy. I don't remember most of them, but the one that stuck out was the full cost of any damage done to the vehicle if it were towed. The supplement was pretty expensive, so I decided to take the risk. Has anybody else run into this?

Bruce

Posted by
308 posts

In all honesty I still don't understand the car rental business. I rented a car in Milan Italy in April through Auto Europe Car here. I was told in Milan I needed to pay an additional 900 euros for damage deposit. When I returned my car I too made pics since the office was still closed. I was very upset as I thought I had paid for everything and extras upfront. A few days later they released the money again but I had them hold a deposit on my regular bank card not CC. The rental I had paid through my CC.Now I am heading to Italy again in 1 1/2 weeks and will be renting a car in Rome through Auto Europe again. I did ask them about the deposits and they told me I will be asked to put some money up no clue how much. This is very confusing to me. Can anyone explain this to me? Thanks

Posted by
2815 posts

It's standard for rental car insurance to be both super expensive and also with a super high deductible (like 1800 euros). Expect the deposit required to be about what the deductible is. Car rental insurance is like the soft drink at McDonald's: you are spending $1.50 for something that literally costs a few cents and that's where all the agency profit is.

Currently going thru the rocket science of trying to set up a car reservation in Mexico for less than $1000/week with insurance. Read Tripadvisor for any company in Cancun and you will say, "Why bother?" and "Don't do it!"

What I learned from that is that even with super CDW zero deductible insurance (often $40/day) is that there are still exclusions: vandalism, storm damage (falling tree or hail), tire damage, and water damage from flooding-- you get no coverage for these types of damage, it has to be a collision with something for the insurance to kick in, that's why it's called collision and theft insurance because it excludes any other loss. The obvious solution to vandalism damage is to push the vehicle into a swamp and report it stolen, then you get full coverage.

Suggestion for anyone renting overseas is to buy the $20/rental coverage thru American Express that covers all losses and is really cheap, for a week rental that works out to $3/day. Not sure if Italy is excluded from that, though.

Posted by
2901 posts

@Tom Unfortunately, Italy is excluded from the AMEX Premium car rental insurance. We use it for all our other travel; and not only is it super cheap, but they handle claims very efficiently. In Italy we rely on the insurance provided by our Chase Visa card. The only caveat there is that since they have so many different cards, it is well to call and check exactly what your own card covers. We did once need to make a claim, and it was handled promptly.

Posted by
1700 posts

OP: you really have to look at this more objectively and from a 3rd parties (legal) point of view.
I see no way for you to prove how many KM you did or did not drive, Google Maps and sharing your day by day routes while I am sure totally honest is something so easily lied about that it could never be considered evidence, I am sure you can understand that.

I still don't understand the insurance, you may be seeing required insurances for Italy which are included in your rate but still leave you with a sizeable deductible.
Did you buy ZERO DEDUCTIBLE / ZERO EXCESS Insurance, this would have been extra, not required, key terms is it would say on your contract this extra insurance reduced your liability to Zero and you have an insurance claim here, all you have to do is figure out who you bought the insurance from and the steps to process your claim. The ley word is Zero Deductible or maybe called Zero Excess
That is the one thing I would fight and fight hard, the other stuff you are providing makes things confusing and not going to get you anywhere!
Even with ZERO EXCESS insurance they could still get you if the damage was to things not covered like often Tires, Roof, Undercarriage, Interior, etc...

If you did not buy ZERO DEDUCTIBLE / ZERO EXCESS Insurance (not normally included) I see you having no claim here and for your own sanity need to drop fighting this.
You have no proof you left the car without damage, the company is saying when checked the car had 140 euro in damage, the rental agency may have screwed you over or someone might have bumped the car in the parking lot ; you understand based on other posts here that while I the parking lot, even though their Parking lot the car was still under your control/responsibility right? Why drag this out?
If you did not pay for the ZERO EXCESS insurance the 140 euro is frankly similar to the cost the ZERO EXCESS insurance would have been so consider it you broke even in the end.