ZTL protection - how to

ZTL protection - how to I've never driven to a hotel that is within a ZTL but I proabably will and I am assuming that, when I do, things will go wrong.  Here is the scenario: my hotel emails me that my driver liscense has been sent to the police and that I am ZTL legal. I arrive and drive to the hotel within a ZTL. I depart Italy. My credit card pays the hotel and I get my monthly statement showing that all is well. Time goes by. On my next (or maybe later) statement I see a ZTL fine related to the hotel area. Now what? Will Visa fight for me when I dispute the city's charge - if so, will Visa try to get the hotel to pay the fine? If Visa is not my advocate, then what?

Posted by Diane
Ottawa
1156 posts

Umm... and how would your Visa number get passed on?? It's not the hotel that would be contacted regarding the fine attributed to the CAR. Are you assuming that it's the rental car company that would put the fine through as a charge? Keep the hotel's e-mail and the paper receipt for the night paid. Print out the hotel website's page where they outline their parking policy. This should be enough for a start, to contest a possible future charge. Other than that, I would use common sense and double-check when I arrive.

Posted by Margaret
Nashville, TN, USA
451 posts

Assuming the only place you drove was to/fro the hotel without wide detours (didn't cruise around the city sightseeing on your way in/out/during), and assuming the only place you parked was specifically where the hotel designated that you park, then yes, it sounds like you definitely have a disputable issue. But it is a complicated, tangled one. Typically after a customer makes a good effort to work with a merchant to resolve issues, VISA will put a charge in "dispute." What is interesting about this situation is that the charge did not come from the merchant you dealt with, but from another third party (the ZTL authorities) only because of an assurance from the hotel that did not work out. Could be the hotel did what they were instructed to do to keep a problem from happening, but the ZTL goofed up. Have you contacted the hotel to ask their help in working it out? I'd suggest emailing them and attaching a copy of the charge and all your previous emails. Tell them you were about to post a positive review of their hotel on Trip Advisor, when you received your VISA bill. See what they can do for you. If no luck, you can tell VISA what you attempted to resolve w/ the hotel, and it will be interesting to see if you can get a refund from VISA, based on sending them a copy the email assurances and your providing the hotel what they requested. Seems the hotel would need to send the actual license TAG number off the rental car vs. your driver's license, but what do I know???? Maybe with English/Italian translations in email, something got miscommunicated or misunderstood. Depending on the amount of money, it may be less hassle to let it go and chaulk it up to experience. Please repost how it all ends.

Posted by Margaret
Nashville, TN, USA
451 posts

ooooooooooooooooooops. I just re-read your original post and realized you were asking hypothetically. I'm not going to go back and reword my previous response, because whether hypothetical or not, I think the same issues would apply. But, once you get to the hotel, clarify if they need the tag number off the car, too. Ask if ANYONE has ever had any problems. And, on the front end, get the hotel to reply back to you in writing that IF you get a fine, they will reimburse you...........that would hold weight with VISA if problems after the fact. Sorry for mis-reading the post the first time. I was really feeling sorry for you, but glad you haven't had the hassle (yet), and hope you won't. I'm guessing there are ways hotels can work through the ZTL issues for guests, after all local economies depend on tourism dollars and hotels have to have places for guests to park. I would still avoid joy riding, but that might be safe once you have your "get out of fine free" card :)

Posted by Otariidae
Catadupa Alamere, CA
515 posts

I paid Hertz on Visa; and Herzt can connect my Visa to the license plate. But it looks like I am assuming (falsely) that the city uses my cc as a payment chanel. Evidently they don't. If my cc is not invoked and if all I have is an invoice from the city, then what? If I want to challeng the fine, using the written confirmation that I have from the hotel, then how and to whom do I present that challenge? The hotel already has my money. Can I go back to the cc and get them to refund from my hotel payment the $ that I pay on the fine?

Posted by Margaret
Nashville, TN, USA
451 posts

I think the answer to having VISA intervene after the fact would be: "maybe." Again, get it in writing from the hotel that they would reimburse you, IF you are fined. If they are not willing to put that in writing, then I would not count on a fine-free situation. If they are confident enough to make that guarantee, then I would be confident enough to park where they say and not worry about it. If after the fact, you receive a fine notice from the ZTL enforcers, then with the written assurance from the hotel that they would reimburse you, THEN I think you might have a fighting chance to have some recourse through VISA (IF the hotel does not keep its promise). As an extra measure of protection, you could also give a copy of the written reassurance from the hotel that it is okay to park in the ZTL and tell the rental car that if any charge comes through related to that particular parking situation, to funnel the fine to the hotel. But, as I type, I'm really thinking "yeah, right, like the rental car company would keep up with all that." But you could ask that they type that into your record (on the computer) and also have it noted on the contract you sign. But, I don't think it is a black/white issue.....lots of fuzzy areas. If the hotel has not experienced problems with other guests being ticketed (and I would think they would want to avoid problems), then you are probably going to be just fine (or maybe I should avoid that word and say "okay" instead - LOL).

Posted by donna
cranberry twp, PA, United States
2406 posts

The hotel doesn't charge you the fine, the city does. I don't think they have any access to your credit card information. How would they know where you're staying if you stray into a zone you are not authorized to be in. They'll take your license number and get your address from the rental car company and send you the ticket. There will be an address on the ticket where you can send the fine or dispute it. If you have strayed outside of the authorized zone you'll have to pay the fine. If you are in the right just send them a copy of authorization or have them contact the hotel who should have records that they entered your license for clearance. As long as you contact the hotel and stick to the route they provide you won't have any problems. Donna

Posted by Tom
Chicago
2876 posts

(If I understand the process correctly) It's not your drivers license that gets sent to the police, it's the license plate number of your car. That license plate goes onto the ZTL "pass" list. Every car that enters a ZTL is photographed. The plate numbers are then compared (by the computer) to the pass list. If the plate is on the pass list, there's no violation and no fine. IF you get a violation, the police will trace the license plate to the owner - in your case the rental car company. The rental car company will then give the police your contact information (and charge you for doing so). The police will then mail you the ticket. The rental car company will not pay your fine for you. Your ZTL "pass" is only good for the ZTL in which your hotel is located; it doesn't give you a free pass to all the ZTL's in the city. If you get a violation for a ZTL in which you had a pass at the time, I believe the correct procedure is that you'd appeal to your hotel, which can then get the police to waive the fine. At least this is how I think it works!

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
2394 posts

Tom has the most accurate answer. Your issue would not be with VISA but with the hotel, who should be able to followup with the authorities if you have the details. But it is highly unlikely that you'll get an invalid ZTL if the hotel correctly passes on your info. BUT you can get a ZTL fine if you get lost and take a wrong turn or drive in zones not authorized by your hotel stay. Those are pretty common mistakes and entirely your fault. If you did get an eroneous fine, VISA would not reverse the hotel charge because that is a separate, unrelated charge. If you do get a fine, the rental agency will charge your VISA a fee for providing your info to the authorities. You cannot dispute that charge.

Posted by Otariidae
Catadupa Alamere, CA
515 posts

Thanks everyone for trying to help, all of your suggestions have really helped. Here is how I read them: The facts are that in the US I get email confirmation from Hotel (a family run hotel) that the City has authorized me to drive my Hertz car into the ZTL to Hotel on a route that Hotel gives me. I do that, never straying from that route. When I check in I show the clerk Hotel's email and he confirms that all is well regarding the ZTL. I park my car in Hotel's underground lot under Hotel. I leave it there until I check out. I check out and leave City, never deviating from the ZTL approved route that Hotel gives me. I arrive home. Visa pays Hotel's bill and Hertz's bill and I do not object to either statement because there is no fine on them. Later, in the mail, I receive from City a ticket for a ZTL violation. On just those facts – no additional facts: Hertz will not pay the ticket. Visa will not pay the ticket. Hotel may of may not try to persuade City to rescind the ticket and, if they make that effort, then City may or may not rescind it. If Hotel fails to effectively seek a rescission from City, or if City refuses a proper request from Hotel, then Hotel may or may not pay the ticket. If Hotel does not pay then there is nothing I can do, except to pay the ticket and then complain to the word on the web.

Posted by Otariidae
Catadupa Alamere, CA
515 posts

"but I proabably will and I am assuming that, when I do, things will go wrong. Why make that assumption? And if you have that assumption, why put yourself in the position?" Because something always goes wrong on a trip, but it is usually something that can be repaired or worked around. Sometimes it leads to something good.
But with ZTLs, based on what I am reading from the above, if the hotel makes a mistake that they blame on the City, my remedy is an email debate with the hotel, a debate in which I do not have Visa as a supporter. "I've never driven into a ZTL and have no interest to." I could not agree more. I'll simply deal with the car in ways that do not involve any ZTL. It's not the end of the world. Thanks everyone for your help.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7213 posts

Perfect example of why I didn't trust my hotel to protect me from ZTL infractions. They might do it but if not, your stuck with the bill and they shrug, "oh well." I parked at a garage and walked to the hotel.

Posted by Diane
Ottawa
1156 posts

... and pay the obligatory service charge/processing fee, put through Visa by Hertz.

Posted by Ron
Carbondale, IL, USA
1201 posts

The problem with your scenario is that the hotel must register not you, but the license plate of the car you are driving with the authorities. You won't know the license plate number until you actually pick up the rental in Italy. While the hotel can tell you they will do the procedure, they can't without your plate number.

Posted by Tom
Chicago
2876 posts

<<If Hotel does not pay then there is nothing I can do, except to pay the ticket and then complain to the word on the web>> In your scenario, I believe that the only way you would get an erroneous ZTL ticket would be if your hotel failed to register your rental vehicle's plate number with the authorities. In such an instance, your beef would be with the hotel, not the authorities. Of course, you'd have to prove to the hotel that they slipped up. (I imagine that hotels keep a record of the license plate numbers that they put in for a pass, but who knows.)

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8760 posts

but I proabably will and I am assuming that, when I do, things will go wrong. Why make that assumption? And if you have that assumption, why put yourself in the position? ... and, if we are talking about Florence or Rome here - the two places with the most popular ZTLs - be aware that very few hotels have the parking under the hotel which you mentioned. Usually they allow you to drive to the vicinity of the hotel for a short, usually very short, unloading time and then a route to a public or private parking garage or lot (with microscopic spaces) a few streets away. Both the route to the hotel drop off area and to the parking area need to be precisely followed. When you get lost that's not the hotel's fault after they have given you their standard instructions. ... and it is possible to give a mistaken number plate number, either the guest to the hotel or the hotel to the ZTL authority. Zero for letter O, 7 for 1 or vice versa, etc. Of course your number plate is new to you, too, if a short term rental. I've never driven into a ZTL and have no interest to.

Posted by Ron
Ron-in-Rome... now RPT in Atlanta!
1743 posts

More fuel for the fire: A hotel must be authorized to contact the city to secure you a ZTL exclusion. Some of the smaller hotels are not authorized (which probably means them paying a fee). Make sure before you drive into a ZTL zone you have verified with your hotel, via email (get it in writing), that they can provide this service. Then, upon departure, ask for a receipt or verification detailing your ZTL status through this hotel. Frankly all this will do is probably motivate them to make the phone call (if they haven't already). Trying to "fight" a ZTL violation is almost impossible, unless you live in Rome and have plenty of time! For more info, and a couple of Rome ZTL maps, read ZTL's in Rome. ZTL's are why I ride a motorino!

Posted by Otariidae
Catadupa Alamere, CA
515 posts

"Trying to "fight" a ZTL violation is almost impossible, unless you live in Rome and have plenty of time! For more info, and a couple of Rome ZTL maps, read ZTL's in Rome. ZTL's are why I ride a motorino!" I agree. Absent a certainty of downpours, I rent one. You are so right: For an ordinary tourist like me, Rome on a scooter is on a different planet than the other Rome. OK folks, before anyone who is reading this runs off and rents a scooter as a first timer in Italy, for goodness sake read Ron's blog on scooters. He provides many safety tips and you are at much risk if you are unaware of them.
http://www.roninrome.com/transportation/riding-a-scooter-in-rome

Posted by Ron
Ron-in-Rome... now RPT in Atlanta!
1743 posts

Otariidae, we're back in Rome next week staying at a friend's apartment for a couple of weeks while she is in the States (It's good to have friends in Rome - I think it's our 5th trip back in less than a year!). When we left Rome we sold our motorino to her and she has graciously allowed us to use the bike while we're staying at her apartment. Unfortunately, she has had two accidents on the bike - and now with a few yards of DUCT tape (called American tape in Rome) holding it together, we'll be back on our way to the beach and Lake Bracciano. DUCT Tape on bikes is pretty common in Rome. You can certainly see more of Rome (and Italy) on a motorino. We're planning to head to Anzio, Orvieto, Sperlonga, and perhaps Sardinia on the bike (and ferry) during our time in Italy. (Notice the beach theme - we live in Copenhagen... we CRAVE the sun!) But as you suggest, Rome IS NOT the place to learn to ride a motorino. There are just too many distractions. We're also experienced and know WHERE we're going and HOW to get there. The one-way roads and narrow streets can be quite challenging for beginners. And then there's the "other" motorini riders... This is not like renting a 50cc bike in the Bahamas or Hawaii. Here, a motorino is a primary mode of transportation and the streets are filled with hundreds of them. And "rules of the road," as we know them, seldom apply. You have to be aggressively assertive! Unfortunately after years of driving in Rome, when we rent a car here in CPH or drive back in the States, my wife has to keep reminding me NOT to drive Italian!