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Blatant misrepresentation of total rental costs, Tromso, Norway

I visited Norway in August 2019, and arranged online to rent a car from Avis in Tromso. The website clearly lists insurance available from Avis as optional and the "Rental Terms and Conditions" # 12 states that their coverage "is not mandatory". However when I showed up at the Tromso city office at the appointed time I was informed that it was indeed "mandatory" [ the agent's exact word]. I pointed out that I had insurance through a third party but the agent would not release the car to me unless I took Avis' [expensive] insurance. Being put on the spot at the last minute I felt I had no choice but to accede. When I returned the car to Avis' airport office I complained to the [different] agent there. She confirmed that Avis in Norway requires North Americans to take their insurance even if they are otherwise covered. To add insult to injury she gave me a printout of the "Car Rental Contract" which clearly lists "Collision Damage Waiver" and "Theft Insurance" under the heading "Optional Services" -as does the original electronic copy that they had sent to my email. This of course added hundreds of dollars to the quoted price of the rental. By misrepresenting the cost of a rental with this omission Avis gains an unfair competitive advantage over the car rental companies that accurately quote the full cost of a rental [e.g. Europcar, with whom I rented a car in Oslo, after cancelling my subsequent planned rental from Avis]. An email that I sent to Avis' head office was answered with a boilerplate form email thanking me for getting in touch.

Posted by
486 posts

How annoying for you. I'm assuming it's been a few days since your email to Avis i.e. Time enough for a human to research and answer. If not you may get get a reply. If not, you may need to send actual snail mail with printouts showing the misleading info. Hope you get some resolution on this.

Posted by
6543 posts

Remember that not all rental companies are created equal. And often in Europe, the rental company may be a franchise operation and not the actual name on the sign.
North America physical damage insurance policies do not carry forward to European car rentals. But very often, the credit card company will cover physical damage and thefts of rental cars when (1) the rental is charged to their card and (2) when the rental car company's optional coverages (CDW) are specifically waived.
If I was going to use a credit card for coverage, I would cut a copy of their list of terms and conditions online and be carrying it with me on the trip. If the rental company then refuses to rent without their own CDW, I'd refuse to do business with them. With a tablet or laptop in an airport, it's not at all difficult to make a rental car reservation on the spot with another company.
And beware that in some places, credit card companies will throw a charge that pays for personal belongings in the car if they're stolen. This is especially a rip off--profit center for the rental company. It is to be deleted from the contract too.

Posted by
2865 posts

The car rental business seems to be particularly rife with dishonest operators. After an experience of several sleazy tricks with Hertz in Italy, I won’t ever rent with them again. For future reference, I have two suggestions for you. One is to use AutoEurope or Kemwel. With them, you prepay; and there is 24 hr assistance available to help if agents start playing games with you at your destination. My second thought is to write on the contract that you have refused the insurance. Then, try to contest the charge with your cc company.

Posted by
7143 posts

I’ve used AutoEurope for at least 18 yrs, never again.
We rented a car through Avis in Avignon, France. Paid an extra €19 per day for full coverage with Avis. I’ve never done that before but am very grateful i did. We were hit badly by an idiot, our car totaled. Avis was fantastic, they sent a taxi to pick us up and take us to our hotel 40 min away in St Rémy. Later that night, they sent another taxi to pick us up and take us to Avignon, 30 min away, to get another (upgraded by Avis) rental car. We did not have to pay €1 for anything.

Conversely, a week later, we decided to rent a car through AutoEurope in a town outside Paris just for the day, it was with Europcar. When reserving online, i paid AutoEurope for full ins converage after what we had been through in Provence.
Turns out, as explained by agent at Europcar, if we damaged anything on the car or were in an accident we would have to pay Europcar €2000 on the spot and wait for reimbursement from AutoEurope. AutoEurope has never made that clear to me the 10+ times i’ve rented from them and i’d never knowingly agree to that.

So, from now on, i may or may not use AutoEurope to research prices, then book directly with the rental car co and pay the rental co for full - no deductible - insurance no matter how much it costs.

Avis in France was a dream to work with for us.

Posted by
4499 posts

My experience, fairly limited, is that policies and honesty can vary greatly in European rental agencies. And that a nationally recognized brand, like Avis, is no guarantee against underhanded practices of individual agencies in Europe.

I assume that by saying you had "third party insurance" you mean you purchased coverage through one of the independent providers. Or perhaps via your credit card. Did you have the proof of purchase or credit card terms to show them? And they still refused?

Keep all of your paperwork, both the proof of your third party coverage and the rental terms. Fine print is everything. Of course you signed to accept the "optional" Avis insurance, but if nowhere in the rental agreement does it say that North Americans are required to accept, you could have a case with Avis or your credit card. But know that fighting this will take some dogged effort.