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Hertz Rental Car- Italy "processing fee"

We rented a car from Hertz in Florence (Via Borgo Ognissanti site) on 6/23/14, had difficulty getting out of Florence, but after about 1/2 hour, were able to get on the freeway to drive to Montalcino. The car was returned 24 hours later (2 hours of that were spent driving around Florence trying to locate the rental car agency again- NEVER rent from a location in the middle of a big city!). Amount agreed upon was paid (on credit card).

On Sept. 3rd, we noticed an additional charge to our credit card from Hertz of 42.70 Euro ($56.52). When we contacted Hertz, their response was that they had to charge an administration fee of 42.70 Euro because they had been notified by "authorities" of a violation by that car. We requested a copy of that violation as we know we had not committed any traffic or moving violations during the 24 hour period that we had it. Hertz's response "Hertz is not provided a copy of the fine. We can advise you the infringement occurred on 6/23/2014 at 15:06."

We did the paperwork for the car at 2:32 pm. We were not in possession of the car and driving it off the lot until 3:00. That means that within 6 minutes we had committed some violation.

This is quite the scam, either by Hertz and/or by the Italian authorities, rent you a car and months later tell you did something wrong, can't tell you what it was, but you're being charged for it. Also, in Hertz's response, they said "when notified of the violation, Hertz provides the local authorities with the renter's contact information based on who had the vehicle out on rental at the time the alleged violation occurred." and that the local authorities have a year in which to contact us with THEIR fine (for the made up infringement).

Will never rent from Hertz again.

Posted by
507 posts

Tell your credit company you dispute the fee {Edit = underline} until you have proof of the violation & not just the word of Hertz.

Write to the police in Florence, Italy a return-receipt certified letter asking for what violation your vehicle was charged with as you were unaware you committed any infringement of the Italian law. Give the date, time, make/model of car & license plate. If there is a video, ask that it be sent to your email address.

Police Station
Via Pietrapiana, 50 r (Piazza dei Ciompi) - Firenze

tel. 055 203911

08.00/14.00 Monday through Friday

The above address was taken from the internet.

You might try going to your local Hertz rental, also to see if that manager could get a copy of the Florence Hertz paperwork as a courtesy to you.

Hope you can resolve this in your favor.

Ciao

P.S. In no way am I advising you to dodge the fee. I would want to know the specifics of what the violation is before I payed out money for a violation.

Posted by
10344 posts

I'm sorry to hear of your problem. Unfortunately, what happened to you has happened to hundreds of travelers. It's likely that, without realizing it, you drove into one of the Florence ZTL's, it's not legal to drive into these zones, unless you are pre-authorized and in the city's computer.
It's not really the fault of Hertz and it's not a scam.
Be prepared to eventually receive, in the mail, a hefty fine from the Florence traffic authorities. Usually the fine is separate from the admin fee charged by your rental car company to divulge your mailing address to the authorities.
Some of us here try to warn people about this, if they post questions here in advance about the advisability of renting a car for pickup in the central area of Florence.
If you want more info about Florence ZTL's, google on the web.

Posted by
5538 posts

Quick guess -- in the half-hour you were trying to get out of Florence you inadvertently wandered into a ZTL, triggering a fine. Got caught by a camera. So go ahead and protest the charge, but it may very well reappear. Part of the cost of travel. (We got the French speeding ticket within the first half-hour as well.)

Posted by
104 posts

Hello Traveler,
I am sorry that this happened to you, however, I believe that I know what you did to get this violation. Florence is a restricted driving city. There is a special pass that must be purchased to drive in most of the city limits of Florence. There are restricted driving zones and signs saying as much everywhere in Florence. If you drive in these areas without the pass, traffic cameras will take a photo of the license plate and mail out a ticket. Usually what happens is that the rental company gets the ticket and does one of two things. If they have good customer service they pay the ticket right away and pass the cost on to the credit card they have on file, as an Administrative fee of some kind (this was the courtesy Hertz extended to you it seems.) If they do not have very good customer service they will review the ticket and eventually give the Italian government the customers home address to mail the ticket directly. Usually by the time the ticket gets to you it will have late fees and penalties attached that can push the cost over a couple hundred dollars. I have helped many people try to deal with these tickets when they are big. It is not easy once it goes that far. The moral of the story is one you seem to have learned...driving in big European cities can be a real pain! It is always better to pick up a rental car at an airport or smaller town nearby. Don't be afraid to ask your car rental agency for other pick up and drop off options. I hope this helps!

Posted by
4522 posts

As noted, it isn't Hertz's fault and it's not a scam. You committed a traffic violation (ZTL) and will get a ticket from Florence, but it can take up to a year (sometimes more). That may seem crazy but it's just the way the Italian system works.

Hertz, and just about every other rental agency, charges you a fee for providing your contact information to the authorities. They know nothing about what the violation was and will not pay it (few rental agencies will pay the violation). And you will get a separate charge for each and every violation notice (which often happens when you are lost or unknowingly driving around a center city filled with various ZTL's). I truly hope this was the only one. The fee is outlined in your rental agreement and complaining to your credit card will do nothing.

Posted by
24872 posts

Yet again the information provided by the RS staffer appears to fall short of complete.

The fee is the fee to tell the authorities who was driving; it was agreed when you signed the agreement; and it has nothing to do with the actual fine, it is only providing your details.

The authorities will use that information in their own good time to follow you and fine you for your infraction.

You said:-

had difficulty getting out of Florence, but after about 1/2 hour, were able to get on the freeway to drive to Montalcino

so during that time you were lost you went somewhere you weren't allowed to go.

Is that really the fault of Hertz? You were lost but it was their fault? Did they give you a map showing the dreaded ZTLs and highlight a route straight through one?

If it was your fault instead of Hertz's do you want to take back some of your language?

Then you say:-

2 hours of that were spent driving around Florence trying to locate the rental car agency again

So maybe you will have accumulated another fine or 2 during that 2 hours. 2 hours is a long time to be lost, especially in such a small city as Florence. Did you ask for help?

Posted by
11613 posts

Nigel is right, it's not a scam, it's the law. Your rental agreement likely has language saying you agree to their chsrging you an administrative fee for providing information to the police, so Colette's advice is probably not going to get you anything except a letter showing your signed rental agreement. Residents of Italy get these tickets, too.

As a matter of fact, I just got a traffic ticket in Ohio for turning right on red (no sign forbidding it). So this "eye in the sky" is catching on worldwide.

Posted by
24872 posts

I've just re-read this thread and saw this other error by the RS staffer:-

There is a special pass that must be purchased to drive in most of the city limits of Florence.

Can somebody corroborate that statement - that a pass can be bought to drive in most of the city limits of Florence?

That's a new one on me.

My understanding - and memory - is that the vast majority of the city limits of Florence are normal roads and not restricted. The centre, in the old city, is fairly full of dreaded ZTLs but that is quite a small part of the entire city.

I don't know of any pass that the traveling public can buy.

Locals with business or residence in the restricted centre are, by permit, allowed to go there but not the others.

Posted by
3040 posts

Several others have explained very well what happened to you. I'll only add that that is why we often rent at, and even more often return, cars to airports. Trying to find a rental office in a medieval maze of narrow, one-way streets is a travel nightmare best avoided, even without ZTL's. As for cameras as engines of enforcement, as Zoe said, they're becoming more and more common, here and over there. I admit to having ambivalent feelings about this phenomenon. (George Orwell, do I hear your sardonic chuckle from somewhere?) However, it does make sense to keep the police dealing with serious crime instead of them handling what a machine can do.

Posted by
627 posts

The car was returned 24 hours later (2 hours of that were spent
driving around Florence trying to locate the rental car agency again

Hopefully your adventure isn't just beginning. Sounds like you went thru a ZTL when leaving the lot. If you spent 2 hours trying to return the car there is a good chance you crossed into it again. To make it worse, each violation is treated separately. If you entered and exited the ZTL 3 times, that is 3 tickets.

Posted by
9110 posts

And why is everything not understood always labeled as a scam?

Posted by
6554 posts

I got hit with the same administration fee. Don't get upset.

Almost a year later, I received a certified letter from the City of Venice demanding $155 equivalent to be wire transferred to their checking account in Euros. I found a wire transfer service online that sent the Euros for me--charging my Visa.

We went through a radar/camera on the causeway going out to Venice @ 1.6 mph over the posted very slow speed limit. I wouldn't have been mad had it been a school zone or congested area, but it's nothing but a long, long bridge/levy with nothing on it.

When you get the ticket, that's when you can get mad.

Don't hold it against Hertz. All the rental companies work the same way. I paid close attention to the Hertz rental agent at Sansovino location in Florence, and we had no problem at all navigating streets to the motorway to go south.

Posted by
507 posts

It would be customer service if car rental companies both here & abroad would check a car's license upon return for any local violations. With current technology (or just a plain phone call to local/district authorities by the manager) to check the license, the customer could be alerted upon payment to expect a separate charge on their credit card bill. Then it is not such a surprise when the extra charge shows up.

To be a proactive customer, ask the rental co. to check the tag # of the returned car through PD for any violations on file during the time the car was rented by you. It does not mean one will not show up after you leave.

This comes from a person whose employment covered included customer service to the military as well as to non-military people most of his employed career.

{Addition: To the naysayers . . .

  1. The company is calling about their car. It is not an individual, either Stateside or overseas, calling about a personal record. A car rental company that establishes a good repertoire with the local PD may receive an answer. What is the worst that a police dept can say? "No."

  2. The PD must give some sort of information about the violation to the rental company, or an additional bill from the rental company would not show up on one's credit card after full payment of the car rental bill as the original OP stated. "". . . an additional charge to our credit card from Hertz of 42.70 Euro ($56.52). When we contacted Hertz, their response was that they had to charge an administration fee of 42.70 Euro because they had been notified by "authorities" of a violation by that car.""

  3. It never hurts to ask. Just be prepared for a negative answer.}

Posted by
9363 posts

Don't be so sure that the police would be willing or able to divulge any violations to the rental company, even if they called them when you returned the car. After all, they don't divulge the violation to the rental company later, they only request contact information (which you have probably given permission for). Can you call a local police station here and ask if there are any listed violations for a particular license plate number? At best, they would probably require you to show up in person to request that information so that they could verify that you are the owner of the vehicle in question.

Posted by
1700 posts

I'm sorry this happened to you as well but I think calling it a scam, a "made up infringement" and blaming Hertz is extremely unfair to Hertz and gives other travelers a false impression of the benefits and perils of auto rental in Italy.
As has been explained above you must have entered a ZTL immediately after leaving the rental office, you are responsible for that- not Hertz. Did you not ask the agent there for directions that would have avoided that?

From your post I would not be surprised if you actually have more violations in your future- 2 hours driving around looking for the return location? Why not stop and call or ask for help? Or use a map or a GPS? Chances are pretty good you entered the ZTL again and again.

We recently rented a car in Florence and before we booked anything I did my homework- and a lot of it! I read all that I could find about auto rental in Italy, I read reviews, I asked questions here, I used Google maps to view the locations. I was also worried about the dreaded ZTL (even with Roberto's reassurance and directions) we still chose to pick up our car at Hertz-Via Sansovino- outside the ZTL and just a short cab ride from the historic center. The agent there could not have been more helpful- gave us perfect directions to get us going in the right direction and head out of town. We returned in Spoleto and again agent there could not have been nicer- there was a local fair going on and nowhere to park- he came out of the office, took the wheel and dealt with finding a parking spot for us.

I just felt that the "Hertz scam" bit of this needed to be addressed. In my research I read some similar "bad reviews" of Hertz- now I have to wonder how many of those renters were actually responsible for what happened to them- but find it easier to blame Hertz and post that all over the internets.

Posted by
3450 posts

It took us 2 years to receive a speeding ticket from Basel. Neither it nor the ones we got from France on a different trip were scams. Those tickets came within 3 months of our return. Cameras are very efficient.

No matter where we live, thinking things do or should work the way they do back home is a big mistake.

Speaking of that, we arrived at FCO yesterday morning from ATL. I'm sure we were filmed going through passport control, but I saw no one from our plane have a passport checked or stamped. No wonder the line was moving so fast. Welcome to Italy!

Posted by
1 posts

I traveled with 3 other couples to Italy in July. We all rented from Hertz, and all received the same administrative fine a few months later. As of December, not one of us has received a traffic ticket from the Italian authorities. I tried to look up my violation number on a Florence traffic site to see if I could pay it, and the traffic violation number is not in the system. A week and a half ago, I was billed by Hertz Italy again for the same administrative fine which I had already paid, and again with no information as to how to take care of this fine. Whether this is a scam or not is almost beside the point - either way, it's very poor customer service.

Posted by
214 posts

I can see by the tone of this thread that a bit of levity is sorely needed - here's my tale: 16 years ago, on our first trip to Italy, we rented a car and headed north from FCO to Tuscany and beyond. As expected, the first stop (two nights) in small town was a piece of cake to drive. Then, it was onto to Florence. Armed with my Michelin map (pre-consumer GPS days), we approached the historic and quickly realized that we were hopelessly lost. Approaching the Piazza della Liberta I spotted a kiosk/TI and proceeded to drive towards it not realizing that the Piazza was a pedestrian zone. A nearby police officer was not amused with my Griswold-like gaff and did not hesitate to read my the riot act - a simple "stupid tourist" would have sufficed. Okay, now the good part - she guided me back out of the Piazza AND directed us to a nearby car park adjacent to our hotel. Oh for those kinder, gentler days - no ZTL, no fines. Sigh.

Posted by
4522 posts

Seanh - Again, the charges from Hertz ARE NOT the fine and the rental agency has no information about the fine. When a rental vehicle is caught on camera violation some traffic code (such as a ZTL), the authorities send a notice to the rental agency requesting the contact information of the renter. They hand that over to the authorities and charge you an administrative fee for doing so. This sequence is repeated for each and every violation notice (it is common to get several as each ZTL camera you pass is a new violation). It is all clearly spelled out in the rental agreement you signed and has nothing to do with customer service.

It is up to the authorities to send you the actual violation ticket. Italy is notorious for taking months to do so. I believe they have at least a year to do so. And sometimes you never get the ticket (in which case consider yourself lucky).

Camera enforcement is very, very common in Italy (and much of the rest of Europe). Common violations are ZTL (pedestrian zones), bus lanes, traffic lights, and speeding (they even have systems to average your speed and will fine you if the average is too high). So it's not hard for drivers to get one or more tickets.

Posted by
507 posts

@seanh . . . I hear your disgust in ". . . was billed by Hertz Italy again for the same administrative fine which I had already paid,".

Check your two CC statements to see if anything is different (such as numbers)
under the line stating who is billing you. It could be a different citation. If everything is the same, Hertz Italy may not be in receipt of 1st payment. Call the CC company & ask if it is the same charge.

For future posters RE this issue
When you rent a car, be it overseas or in your home country, part of the contract states you are held liable for any traffic violation that your car is involved in during the time you rent it.

@Craig . . . 40 yrs ago I side-swiped a parked car in England in an attempt to avoid a head-on collision with a vehicle whose driver was attempting to pass on a hill. I found the owners of the parked car. After giving them my info, they sent me down to the police station to report the accident. I was asked 3 questions. 1) Had I notified the owner?
2) Had I been drinking? 3) Was I on drugs?
(Yes, No, No). The sgt said, "OK," and sent me on my way. The only smart comment was from a guy at Hertz who said, "Oh, we are used to you Yanks beating up our cars," or something to that extent.

I seriously think that today I would be treated the same under the same circumstances.

Posted by
20972 posts

Welcome to the world of Italy traffic violations. It could be another six months or more before the actual ticket and fine catches up with you. Hertz has absolutely nothing to do with it other than charge you each time police asks for your name and address. What do you expect Hertz to do? Send you a letter stating that they are charging you an agreed upon fee for providing your name to the local authorities for violation a traffic regulation. And they will do that for every violation.

To bad you were not on this site prior to your trip. You would have been forewarned by the many postings on this subject. A big hazard of driving in Italy especially in cities like Florence. That is the primary reason that many of us discourage renting a car in Florence. Good luck but the tickets are coming.