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Hertz Italy Scam

After the trip of a lifetime, I was contacted by Hertz in Venice with a bill for damages to our rental vehicle. We returned this vehicle with no damage, however, I do not have proof. In Venice, you leave your car on the top floor of the rental car garage (10th floor) and return the keys to the rental center on the base floor. We rented another vehicle after our stay in Venice and asked if we could have this same car. I have been a loyal Hertz Gold customer throughout my career and have used them extensively for business and personal travel. I have always felt they had a higher standard and never thought I would be subjected to such a scam. I am extremely disappointed. I wonder how many other people have been victim of false rental claims by Hertz. I recommend you take pictures of your car when you drop it off.

Posted by David
Seattle, WA, USA
3460 posts

Yep, always take photos (video too) before and after the rental.

You can try to dispute the charges with your credit card company, but without any photos/video, of course you are in a weaker negotiating position.

Posted by Mark
Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
2063 posts

If you have rental insurance through your credit card use to pay for the rental, report this to them, immediately. They will work to help get this corrected.

If not, you should ask for more details. Pictures showing the supposed damage that also include something that uniquely identifies the vehicle as the one you rented. Rental records to show any renters after you or before you where the damage might be noted. Mileage on the car when you turned it in and when they sent you the bill. If the car has been rented since you had it, this is a good way to argue you weren't the one causing the damage. If you need more assistance, Elliott.org is a consumer advocate who has a good success rate fighting these type of issues.

Good luck.

Posted by Tim
Knoxville, TN, USA
6130 posts

Sorry about your predicament...

But renting a vehicle in Europe is always a high stake gamble. I've rented a few and more often than not have been met with some unexpected charge or issue.

To all those who claim how they enjoy all of the "freedom" that a rental car gives them over train travel...take heed.

Posted by Teresa OP
Saint Pete Beach, FL
2 posts

Thank you for the replies. I have tried every avenue - American Express, Facebook and Twitter shamming. We also had Travel Insurance. When I placed a claim, I guess Rental Car insurance is an extra option. I rented with an AMEX Platinum Card. They have agreements with most European Countries, but not Italy (which I find very interesting). I am annoyed because it is such a scam, but alas I have no proof. I rent through Hertz, extensively and never had a problem. So many lessons learned with this rental :(

Posted by Larry
Carmel, CA, USA
1900 posts

Sorry for your situation, and good luck. This is the reason I always get zero deductible insurance with my rental. Just recently in Spain I did turn in the car with a small but noticeable scrape. Both the phone customer service staff and the staff where I turned the car in checked the rental agreement and said the same thing: “no problem, you’re covered.”

Posted by mreynolds
Boston, MA
1685 posts

The airport I assume?
I returned a rental car in Venice at Piazzale Roma (not the airport) and double parked the car right in front of the office and went in to get someone.
Was a tiny office.
Did not pull into any parking garage and thought I had read previously not to as their is a charge just to drive into the garage.

Really don't think it was a scam ; not saying you knowingly damaged the car ; could be bad record keeping by them and the car was damaged by the previous renter or someone bumped into the car after you parked it in the garage.
If the car was damaged in the garage before their employee got to the car, it is still considered your rental period/responsibility.
While a scam is possible those other scenarios seem more likely.
Unless they are closed I try to always insist someone look over car before I give the keys.

Sounds like you opted for no optional insurances when renting and also had no coverage of your own (credit card, 3rd party, etc...)
A quick stop on this forum pre-trip would have made you aware of such things.
It is your right to do that but need to be very vigilant about checking the car over before and after the rental period including pictures.
Of course if you opt for the zero deductible extra cost insurances ; you never need to worry about pictures and looking over the car ; for people that are stressed about renting overseas I usually recommend they just do that.

Posted by JerryG
winston salem, nc, usa
1014 posts

I'm pretty sure that you are dealing with an agency of Hertz in Italy and not with the corporate entity. That's probably one of the reasons many CC company's don't honor insurance on rental there. I had a problem with Sixt in Italy(never at any other location in the EU) that had to do with road taxes, refueling charges, cleaning(!) that in the end Amex threw up there hands and credited me because the agency never answered their phone when they or I called them.
Personally, have never had a problem with Hertz in Italy, however always take pictures before and after and buy the SCDW.

Posted by David
Seattle, WA, USA
3460 posts

Many credit cards offer some kind of insurance on car rentals (when paying using that card). It's really important to know...

1) Not all insurance provided by a credit card is the same (not at all!)

2) Some countries are explicitly excluded from coverage sometimes (Italy is one that is excluded sometimes, but not in all cases!)

3) There are exceptions and exclusions and gotcha clauses to almost everything - so you absolutely must always read the &#! insurance policy and the car rental contract* - carefully - and **understand* them*.

I've had good experiences with Amex coverage and others, but I've always double-checked and triple-checked the details, and got explicit written assurances/clarifications from the credit card company's insurance about coverage and details. You gotta do the homework or you're at their mercy.

Posted by Roberto da Firenze
San Francisco Bay Area (USA)
10815 posts

I think many credit cards don’t cover Italy because the CDW insurance must be purchased mandatorily from the rental car company by law, therefore you cannot decline it. Such insurance is included in your rental. The problem is the deductible, which is generally at least 1,000€. Some credit cards may cover that, but otherwise you must purchase coverage separately. I always do so (through AutoEurope, a consolidator). I noticed that by adding the Zero Deductible option (at least with AutoEurope) the rental cost increases only an extra $4 a day. Not much for my peace of mind. AutoEurope has that option only with their Europcar and Hertz contracts. For the other companies you need to buy it separately at the rental company desk when you pick up. With that type of coverage, the clerks always tell me they don’t care if I return the car with a dent. I’m fully covered, including the deductible, and I’m not held responsible for damages. In fact I returned my car with minor damage a couple of years ago, but Europcar told me not to worry about since I had zero deductible insurance. Never heard from them again about that little dent.

Posted by Rosalyn
Berkeley
2468 posts

The poster who mentioned that Hertz /Italy is not the same company as Hertz in the U.s. is correct. I found that out when I tried to deal with some issues of blatant dishonesty with a rental experience in Sicily. The email given on the documents did not work. So I tried Hertz here. Useless, for the reason stated above.
I avoid Hertz/Italy.

Posted by David
Seattle, WA, USA
3460 posts

I think many credit cards don’t cover Italy because the CDW insurance must be purchased mandatorily from the rental car company by law, therefore you cannot decline it. Such insurance is included in your rental. The problem is the deductible, which is generally at least 1,000€. Some credit cards may cover that, but otherwise you must purchase coverage separately...

Roberto is correct. Most insurance provided by your credit card clearly requires you to decline any additional insurance that's offered by the rental car agency. If you do not decline that coverage, it invalidates the policy provided by the credit card company - in Italy, this is an apparent "Catch 22".

However, there are a few credit cards that do indeed provide the extra coverage to effectively give you a zero-deductible policy in Italy, since (as Roberto points out, you cannot decline the coverage at the rental counter). Some cards basically ignore that and provide their coverage for the deducible. But you have to read the policy details carefully and you have to check with the credit card company's insurance to confirm!

Posted by Mike
Boston
749 posts

I recently asked my Visa bank (Chase) if the Italian car rental inclusion of CDW conflicted with their terms. They said as long as I decline extra insurance, I'm covered.

Posted by Philip
Hobe Sound, FL
1751 posts

Did Hertz provide you with proof of damage - photos of car including plate# (which should be on your rental agreement), a detailed listing of the damage and a repair estimate? I would demand those. You might also go to traveler writer Chris Elliott's website Elliott Advocacy to learn the names and contact info for Hertz executives here in the US who might help. Do not call them. Start a paper trail. No guaranty that you'll succeed but I would give it a try and mention that you've been a Hertz Gold customer.

EDIT: When contacting Hertz, don’t claim that what happened to you is a scam. Be professional, state the facts, stress your loyalty to Hertz.

Posted by Roberto da Firenze
San Francisco Bay Area (USA)
10815 posts

Obviously it pays if you get zero deductible insurance, unless you are sure your credit card reimbursed you for that. I always felt that Italian rental companies target foreign residents (including me) to make extra money, because it’s harder to dispute charges from afar.

Posted by jaimeelsabio
Maryland
1391 posts

Sorry for your trouble. I’ve rented in multiple countries, always Avis, and always take photos when I turn a car in and have never had an issue. On the couple occasions (both time in Spain) there was minor damage the insurance covered it. When I rented for an upcoming trip to Sicily, both CDW and Liability were mandatory when renting. In other countries, I get separate rental car insurance through Allianz. It and the CC coverage would be more than sufficient.

Posted by spaxzer
Saskatchewan, Canada
1 posts

My family and I returned from Tuscany earlier this week. I did a ton of searching on car rental insurance before going to Italy and that convinced me to go with the rental companies zero deductible insurance. We used Avis and along with liability insurance, it ended up being $20/day U.S. A small price to pay for piece of mind. If something happens, no big deal, your covered.
In my opinion, your credit card may have additional insurance but is it worth the hassle dealing with them and the rental agency if there are issues?
Another suggestion I have, not directly related to this issue, is make sure you rent directly from a car rental agency. Not an Expedia or other 3rd party. If there are issues with the rental, the rental agency refers you back to the booking agency. Again. having to deal with a middle man. This can be frustrating and lead one around in circles. I have had it happen with flights, not worth the hassle. In regards to the 3rd party and car rentals, I seen posts about customers renting through a 3rd party and not getting a mini-van in Italy. The rental company provides them instead with 2 vehicles. Definitely not ideal. I was concerned about this and asked AVIS. I was told this can happen when booking through a 3rd party booking agency. Very rare when booking direct.

Posted by geovagriffith
1834 posts

We rented from Europecar in Britain last year and I had a lot of issues with how they virtually forced me to upgrade to get a nav system in the car at almost double the price, but that is another story.

One thing, after driving 1,700 in Britain, when I turned in the car the Europecar agent and I did a joint inspection that turned up no damage. I suggest doing that.

Posted by aarthurperry
518 posts

First of all I am not sure what the “Scam” is. This may be just a mix up. But I may be reading your post wrong too.

If you were not there when they found this damage and signed off on it or had a chance to see it then I think it is highly unlikely you are on the hook for anything.

Never leave the rental car counter until the car is inspected and declared OK.

You should have a recieipt, on the back is a diagram of the car. If they did not mark damage on that they will have to prove the car was.

A. Not moved after you left the counter
B. Not rented and damaged and you are being charged by mistake.

As I see it you are in a strong position and you should contact Hertz in the US Immediately as well as disput the charge on your CC NOW.

Unless I am missing something here (your post didnt clearly state what happened at return) Then you have grounds for dispute for sure.

Posted by SandyO
California, USA
260 posts

Sorry to hear about your issue with Hertz. I agree with many of the other posts to know your rights before you book, take pictures (even better videos with date and time stamp of condition when you pick up the car and when you return the car). I have rented Hertz car before in Europe (Italy, France, Great Britain) through Auto Europe. Have had parking tickets and damage to cars (parking in France). Auto Europe was great in resolving the issues quickly with minimal out-of-pocket to me.

My only issue with Hertz came in an accident in Arkansas when the minister from my mom’s funeral hit my car. I rented from a franchise of Hertz, had AMEX, and my insurance and the driver admitted to hitting my car. It took me six months to resolve. Hertz is not a help when it is through one of their franchises. My advice, keep patient and pursue some of the options for assistance suggested on this forum.

Sandy

Posted by steves_8
228 posts

I never leave a rental car drop-off without a return receipt signed by rental staff, stating that the car is undamaged. That said, I have not, so far at least, been a victim of this apparently common scam.

On my last trip this year, I rented from Europcar Italy (Malpensa) and received great service. I was at first a little disappointed to be given a Nissan Micra, thinking it was smaller than the car I thought I was getting, but it turned out to be a great little car, despite having a gremlin in the autonomous braking system.

Posted by Bets
Deep in the hills of southern Indiana
5583 posts

Even the return receipt may not be enough, if you read the cases people write about on the elliott.org website, not just in Italy, but the US, too. People receive letters weeks after turning in the car and getting the receipt, requiring money for damages. Then the poor customer spends hours and hours trying to prove they didn’t do it. Sometimes the collections agencies are already on the case, even with Hertz Italy. This happens, so you have to be proactive with pre and post photos that you keep for months afterwards because these damage letters sometimes show up months afterwards. I always mention the photos to the employees, and they roll their eyes, but CYA.

Posted by Laura B
San Francisco
3903 posts

Back on OP's situation - do you have a the original paperwork you got at pickup ? Does it show any prior damage ?? We got a demand for damages from a rental in New Orleans (see, it's not just Italy) but it turned out the staff person checking the car in had just assumed the damage was from the current rental, when we had proof from their own records that it was a "pre-existing condition" and therefore not our responsibility.

Posted by Mark
Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
2063 posts

Hertz rental forms do not show previous damage. It is up to you to fill out a scratch and dent form indicating every scratch and dent and other damage to the car. While this information might be in the Hertz system somewhere, you will never see it. (At least this is how it works at the corporate locations.) And don't ever believe anyone at any car rental service who tells you the damage already on your vehicle is insignificant and won't matter, because the person checking in the vehicle will claim every bit of damage is so significant you might as well just buy the car because that will cost less than what they will charge you for repairs.

Posted by Philip
Hobe Sound, FL
1751 posts

Even if you have 0 deductible, it’s wise to have before and after photos of the car as well as having the paperwork showing any damage. Simply because you can be charged an administrative fee to handle your “new” damage. This might be in the $75 range depending on the company.

Posted by steven989
9 posts

That's good to know. Though it's probably due to some mix up at that particular location (or employees). I did a road trip last year in southern Europe and rented a car from Hertz (from the Milano Centrale location), and I thought the employees were actually pretty nice. The only issue I had was not really Hertz fault (they sent me a massive speeding ticket to my home in LA)

Posted by DougMac
Rural Georgia
937 posts

We nicknamed the Renault we picked up from Hertz at Rome FCO "Dee Dee" for "dented door". The front passenger door had a large dent in it. Before driving out, I made it was noted in our paperwork. I also took photos of it. When we returned it, I noted the original paperwork. We didn't have a problem.

I rent from Hertz frequently for business and I never have a problem. I normally rent at airport I fly to, but for shorter trips I rent from a local office. They've started to us iPads for checkout. They take photos of any damage and attach them to the document. I always do a thorough walk around including photos if there's any doubt.

Posted by bilezmom
South Florida
194 posts

I just wanted to thank you all for all of this information. I will be renting from Hertz in Italy this fall and I was not aware of most of this information. Thank you!! I will be more relaxed knowing what precautions to take.
Lori