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I feel Hertz at Frankfurt airport was less than honest. Opinions?

Hi all,

I booked a rental car from Sep 23 at 11 am to Oct 5 at 1 PM on Expedia from Dollar/Hertz, Expedia told me that including all mandatory fees and taxes. I would pay 281 EUR at the counter. When I got to the counter he told me the total bill would be 662 EURs. I said what? I just stood there, realizing I had zero options and I needed to be somewhere 2 hours a way in 3 hours. My receipt from Expedia told me 281 EUR at pick up. So I had him explain to me the extra charges.

This is what he told me the 281 included.

1 week @ 117,39 EUR

5 days @ 64,55 EUR

Reg Fee: 10,08 EUR

Plus.

23% Location Charge = 44,16 EUR

19% Tax = 44,87

Total 281,05

But then he asked me what countries I was going to. I said, Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, and Austria. He said because I am going to Italy I must accept the Collision Damage Waiver and the Theft Protection and pay a cross border fee. I said to him you are telling me I can not decline the CDW or the TP, Is that correct. He said" yes, because you go to Italy."

So they added:

175,32 for the CDW and 60,04 for the theft protection and a 25,00 cross boarder fee. 452,58 EUR + 23% = 104.09 = 556., 67 + 19% Tax= 105,76 EUR.

So the total came to 662,44 EUR then the kicker is they authorized a hold on my credit card for 1440,00 EUR. For what reason, I don't know. This was not explained on any website (Hertz, Dollar, or Expedia) that this was going to happen. Imagine my surprise after 11 hours on an airplane that my rental was almost 3 times what I was expecting it to be and they held my credit card for over 1400 EUR. It was not a good re-introduction to Europe 10 years after I lived there.

So what is your opinion? Has anyone had a similar experience? Is this just the way it goes at Frankfurt Airport? Was this someone trying to game the system taking advantage of my jet lag and lack of internet connection? Is the CDW and TP really mandatory if you go to Italy? I also just wanted to share this experience if you are thinking of renting at Frankfurt Airport and driving to Venice or anywhere in Italy.

Also, do not speed in a rental car even if all the Europeans are doing it. I never once in 4 years (2004-2008) got a ticket while living in Germany, but I am hearing a lot of horror stories of Americans with rental cars getting 50 EUR a pop charges from rental agencies and then multiple large fines from state agencies for traffic fines. I have a feeling Traffic Tudor is going to have a hay day with my bank account. I guess I will find out in a few months. I wish I had come her first rather than just assuming because I used to live there I knew everything. Also, I think it's probably common knowledge but don't plan anything your first day.

Thanks,
Andy

Posted by
5780 posts

Sorry you had a bad experience. Yes, several items that you mention are well known, common sense things (don't get off a redeye flight and plan to drive anywhere; don't speed unless you're willing to pay the fines; yes, expect any traffic tickets or other driving/parking fines to cost you even more as the various handlers pile on extra fees, etc.).

That said, it is true that in Italy, there are mandatory insurance requirements which you have to pay for (same as at home - most states require car insurance - they just implement it differently in Italy...by making you pay for it with the rental fees).

A fee for taking the car across borders should not have been a surprise. Did you make that known to the place you did the online booking? If you did, then your beef is with the online booking service. If you failed to mention that...

A large block being placed on your credit card is the norm, so you have no grounds for complaint there. In fact, it's quite common for the agency to put a charge on your card for up to the entire replacement cost of the car - which would be a heckuva lot more than 1440 Euros, so that could have been much more. Of course, that's just a deposit, fuly refundable (but it can max out your card, so you should have more than one with you it your card has a low credit line).

Bottom line: I don't think your experience was particularly out of line. Renting a car in Europe is fraught with opportunities for nasty surprises, so you need to be well-informed and well-prepared going into it. I wouldn't trash the Hertz guys in Frankfurt based on what you report here. It could have been worse!

Posted by
8879 posts

In light of the multi country trip you were taking it would have been wise to contact Hertz when/before you made the reservation to find out if there were extra charges for leaving the country. I suspect if you were to rent a car in Texas and tell them you were going Oregon as part of you travels there would be some extra fee.

Hard learned lesson to ask before, not after.

Posted by
1331 posts

There would be no extra fee for going from Texas to Oregon (unless you were going to drop the car there) as they are in the same country. Now, there would be extra fees if you were going to Mexico.

The problem here is did he tell Expedia he was taking the car to Italy? This is a real good example why reservations should not be make through third parties. Also, my response would have been, okay I will not go to Italy and then do it anyway and just hope I did not have any accident or traffic violation (which may be hard in Italy with their ZTLs).

Posted by
5780 posts

@Bob - I would have to disagree with some of your response. Yes, you're right about the analogy of Texas-to-Oregon versus Texas-to-Oregon-via-Mexico (or Canada).

Here's where I disagree:

This is a real good example why reservations should not be make through third parties...

Yes and no. Nothing wrong with third parties, if you tell them all the necessary details, and if they're responsive to your input and your needs. Expedia may not make it easy to find, but I'm guessing that there was some fine print or some link or other place that a user could indicate that they were planning to take the car into country X, Y and Z. If they don't do that, they're open for a lawsuit. They may not make that obvious though. If you go online and just say you want to rent a car in Frankfurt and return it back there, without mentioning you were going to other countries, then you're not being honest with them and all bets are off.

Personally, I generally do all my European car bookings through a third party (gemut.com) and I let them worry about all the possible gocthas - but I make my intentions clear. That has always worked well for me.

I'd also disagree with this:

my response would have been, okay I will not go to Italy and then do it anyway and just hope I did not have any accident or traffic violation...

That's living too dangerously for me. If I was going to cross a border for maybe 30 minutes, OK maybe. But there are just too many chances that something could go wrong, and then you have no valid insurance, and perhaps a world of trouble. Too much risk for me.

Posted by
13234 posts

662 euros for a 12-day rental isn’t too bad. But could have been a lot less had you not not driven into Italy.

Re-read what David said. There are mandatory insurance fees for renting a car in Italy. You cannot decline CDW and other coverage and rely on your credit card coverage. I have not heard of this rule being applied for a car rented outside of Italy and driven in, but it makes sense. One of the Italians who posts here explained that Italy does not accept foreign insurance coverage, so the rental companies add their own coverage through an Italian company.

Posted by
6951 posts

They were ripping your head off. I would have declined the rental and gotten on my laptop/tablet and made a reservation at another rental company. Or, would have taken the rental for one day--and made other arrangements overnight.
Yes, the CDW in Italy is required, however the rates are more reasonable than in other places. That tells me government has something to do with setting the rates. But the "Theft" insurance can be opted out because it only has to do with someone stealing your luggage--and homeowners' policies back home cover that.
I've never been charged any fee for crossing a border in Western Europe.

Posted by
5697 posts

We rented from AutoEurope this spring, picked up in Strasbourg, returned in Avignon -- I'm pretty sure there was something in the contract (done online well in advance) listing the countries to which we could drive without further notifications to the rental agency. (Germany, where we were for a week, was on the list.) Any other countries should have been listed and, I would suppose, additional charges would have been disclosed. Sorry this step got missed in your reservations.

Posted by
3333 posts

I realize policies may change, but a few, maybe 4, years ago, we rented a car in France, and drove it for about 10 days in Italy. We then returned to France for 10 days. There was no mandatory cdw because we rented in France, and no cross-border fee. As to €662 for 12 days, I think that’s a colossal rip off. We just rented a compact size in France and paid €220 for 20 days. We have always used AutoEurope or Kemwel. The only extra charge is a small one (local tax or something), which they warn of in advance. I would take a shot at complaining to Expedia.

Posted by
1331 posts

Did you tell them you were going to drive the car in Italy?

Posted by
5780 posts

Different countries have different rules. It's easy to just assume that "it's all the EU, so everything is seamless" but that is hardly the case. Italy has mandatory insurance. Other countries have vignettes to drive on some roads.

Every company that rents cars has their own rules and fees. For example, with many car agencies, you can't just drive a car rented in western Europe into many eastern European countries (with some, you can). Some agencies have strange rules and prohibitions that you would not expect. Example being, I rented a car in Italy through AutoEurope. The fine print of the contract stated (among other things) that the car could not be taken aboard a ferry. This came as a surprises, as I was planing to take the car on several ferries. Fortunately, I found this out weeks or months before the trip, as I was reading the very detailed contract (like 5 or 6 pages). I exchanged email with the agency I was doing this through, told them exactly what my plans were, and asked them to clarify or reconsider the ferry exclusion. They did. They told me they were actually concerned with someone putting the car on an international ferry - like from Spain to Morocco. I specified the small domestic ferries I planned to use in Italy, and they said those were fine - and I got it in writing.

Woe to anyone who drives a rented car into some random country and hasn't bothered to check if that's OK with the owners of the car.

The point being, there's a contract. You ought to read it and fully understand it before you sign it and drive away, because if you don't and you violate it, either inadvertently or intentionally, you may be without coverage, and if you have a bad accident, it could cost you a lot of money.

If you fail to specify where you're going to take the car, or misunderstand, or just ignore what's in all that fine print, you may have a much, much worse experience than paying 600 Euros for a weekly car rental. It's up to you.

Posted by
3083 posts

I rented a car from Hertz at FRA airport three weeks ago after making a reservation on the Hertz website. Everything was as promised. Zero problems.

Posted by
16941 posts

But did you take it through 4 other countries including Italy?

Posted by
919 posts

I rented a car this summer from EuropeCar via AutoEurope, picking up at FRA and dropping off at MUC. Made the reservation online, and there was no place to tell them what countries we were visiting (Germany, Austria, Slovenia & Italy). When the rental agreement was emailed, there was small print explaining the cross border fee, and requiring notification of travel to certain countries (including Slovenia). I called EuropeCar direct and added all the countries. They sent me an updated agreement. I paid about $60 to cross the border but did not get charged for insurance in Italy, even though Italy was listed on the agreement. This may just be a Hertz thing, possibly buried in the rental agreement. I know they don’t even allow rentals to go to Slovenia, which is why I didn’t choose them.

Posted by
7 posts

Useful commentary by all. I'm planning a trip by rental car out of Frankfurt, with a day trip to Colmar, so I appreciate everyone's feedback.

Posted by
5729 posts

It is common for hire companies to charge more if you take the car out of its country of origin, as if it needs to be repatriated from further afield, it will cost them more. I have rented in Portugal and they charged an additional daily rate for the 6 days when we went into Spain. Italy has additional costs, as has already been explained.

The hold on your credit card is standard, although some actually take the money and refund it when you return the car and others just put a hold on the card.

As for you driving for hours when as you admit you were jet lagged, well, that’s another debate.

Posted by
5597 posts

In most cases, the required "CDW in Italy" still leaves a huge deductible to be paid by the customer. FYI.

Posted by
1160 posts

I agree with Bob. I never book a car except through the renting party. The only third party I use occasionally is Booking.com for hotels and Viator for tours and never had a problem. Hertz could always blame a third party like Expedia. I have also never rented a car and been asked where are you going. It is always pick up and drop off city. I always take the basic CDW even though it is an added expense. It's worth the possibility of a problem. I would definitely be having conversations with Expedia! Document everything!

Posted by
1082 posts

Hi Andy. We have several times rented a car in Germany and driven thru Italy with no additional cross-border or insurance charges. Including from Hertz in 2017. To see Hertz policies, just go to their website and try a sample booking at Frankfurt airport. If you then click on 'Rental Qualifications', it shows policies for taking the car into other countries, including Italy. For a standard car, there is no mention of cross border fee or extra insurance requirements. It does show restrictions for certain vehicle types. For Italy, it says "Forbidden for Mercedes, BMW, Prestige, SUV’s (Sport Utility Vehicles) and convertible cars". Was the vehicle you rented one of those? If not, it seems like the extra charges were not appropriate.

Posted by
3083 posts

@Sam... stayed in Germany! :)
Just establishing I had no trouble with Hertz at FRA.

I think the moral of the story is to make sure you know what you're getting when you make do-it-yourself reservations online through a third party.

Also... on the rare occasion I rent a car, I get the full insurance, which worked out great in France when I scraped the side of the car on a concrete pillar trying to pull into a tiny parking spot in the rental car parking garage at the Rouen Train Station. I went to the counter and said, "Hey, I damaged your car, but I bought full coverage." The guy at the counter confirmed coverage and sent me on my way with zero hassle. Never heard about it again.

Posted by
2576 posts

Andy, I feel for you. I think auto renal is the most unsavory part of travel, domestic or international. Between the upsell, the hidden fees, the insurance requirements, and so much more. Then you get your car and it’s barely cleaned, has a rattle. I feel like I need to take a shower every time I deal with the rental situation. What a business ripe for a customer friendly innovation!

Posted by
3 posts

Hi all,

Yes, I understand that you have to due research but here is the problem:

When I booked this on Expedia the price. this is what it said.

"Due at pick-up: $335.63

Base Price: $217.27

Taxes & Fees: $118.37

You will pay EUR 281.06 at pick-up

Unless otherwise specified, rates are quoted in USD. *The total price includes all mandatory taxes and fees.**
Rental fees are due at pick-up.*

Mileage: Unlimited mileage."

Under the rental rules there is a clause that says. but its not specific, each time you go down the rabbit hole it never says anything about taking a car into a different country, nothing about cross border, nothing about being unable to decline CDW and theft protection.

Your rental may have mandatory, local insurance requirements that
result in additional charges at the time of rental.

Thanks Bob, for your post, that is what I expected e.g. (There should be no CDW or TP required for Italy). I have contacted Hertz in Germany and Expedia, I'll let you know what I find out.

In the grand scheme of things 760 USD isn't that bad with CDW and TP. I probably will not rent from FRA ever again. That 23% location charge is awful just by itself. I picked this rental based on price. I have never had an issue with Expedia until this trip so I had no reason to be suspicious that anything would be amiss when I arrived.

Posted by
8879 posts

https://images.hertz.com/pdfs/RT_FULL_DE_EN.pdf
https://images.hertz.com/pdfs/RT_COUNTRY_DE_DE.pdf

Given this is on the Hertz site, it would have caused me to ask questions about multi country travel, especially as it involves Italy.

Have no idea what kind of car you had, but it seems certain makes have different rules.

Here is what I found on the expedia site for Hertz rentals-- As noted previously, a bit murky, which should be a warning to get it clarified before showing up at the counter.

DRIVING RESTRICTIONS ---------------------- 1. CUSTOMERS MAY NOT DRIVE OR DROP CAR IN THE FOLLOWING CONTRIES ALBANIA TURKEY BULGARIA BZN-HZGVNA MACEDONIA AFRICA GREECE ASIA RUSSIA THE AMERICAS AZERBAIJAN BELARUS GEORGIA KOSOVO AUSTRALIA NEW ZEALAND ROMANIA C.I.S SERBIA MONTENEGRO UKRAINE MIDDLE EAST LITHUANIA LATVIA ESTONIA SPECIAL CONDITIONS APPLY FOR CROATIA, CZECHIA, HUNGARY, POLAND. SPECIAL CONDITIONS APPLY FOR CROATIA, CZECHIA, HUNGARY, POLAND,SLOVAKIA SLOVENIA SEE UNDER 2.2 AND 2.3 . 2.1 CUSTOMER MAY NOT DRIVE OR DROP THE FOLLING CAR TYPES IN ITALY: ALL MERCEDES,BMW,CONVERTIBLES,SUV AND PRESTIGE/FUN COLLECTIONS. . . . 2.2 CUSTOMER MAY DRIVE INTO CROATIA,CZECH REPUBLIC, HUNGARY, POLAND,SLOVAKIA,SLOVENIA BUT NOT WITH THE FOLLOWING CAR TYPES ALL MERCEDES, BMW, ALL CONVERTIBLES,SUVS, ALL TRUCKS AND TRANSPORTERS, HERTZ FUN AND PRESTIGE COLLECTIONS. . CROSS BORDER FEE - HERTZ CUSTOMERS FOR TRAVEL TO OTHER COUNTRIES OUTSIDE OF GERMANY A ONE-OFF FEE OF EUR 25.00 EXCLUDING TAX WILL BE CHARGED EXCEPT FOR COMPANY CONTRACT RATES. . FOR ANY EXCEPTIONS - PLEASE MAKE A REQUEST RESERVATION. . 2.3 CUSTOMER MAY DROP OFF CAR IN LBIAJANA, WARSAW,SCZEC AND POZNAN,PRAGUE,BUDAPEST AND BRATISLAVA ONLY ALLOWED WITH THE FOLLOWING CAR GRPS - MCMR/MDMR/ECMR/EDMR/CDMR/CDMV/IDMR/IMMR/IWMR/IXMR/ CZMR/LVMR/CDAR/IDAR/IXMD/CXMR/CWMR/CWMR/DXMR/SVMR/ CXMD/CXAD/IXAD. BUT NOT WITH THE FOLLOWING CAR TYPES - - ALL MERCEDES BMW , ALL CONVERTIBLES, SUVS, ALL TRUCKS AND TRANSPORTERS, HERTZ FUN AND PRESTIGE COLLECTIONS. . ONE WAYS TO OTHER CITIES IN THESE COUNTRIES ARE NOT ALLOWED. . ENTER THE RETURN CITY INTO THE /DO- FIELD IN YOUR SELL ENTRY. . 3. EUROTUNNEL BOOKINGS MUST ALSO QUOTE DRIVING RESTRCITIONS FROM FRANCE. . FOR FURTHER INFORMATION - IN EUROPE CONTACT THE NEAREST HERTZ RENTAL LOCATION OR HERTZ RESERVATION CENTRE. . DREAM COLLECTION VEHICLE GROUPS SPECIAL CONVERTIBLE AUTOMATIC (XTAR) JAGUAR XK AUT. CONV. GPS SPECIAL 2-4 DOOR AUTOMATIC (XCAR) BMW M5 AUT. GPS AND XSAR CANNOT BE DRIVEN OUTSIDE GERMANY. . OTHER RETURN LOCATION FEE ------------------------- IF CUSTOMER RETURNS VEHICLE TO A LOCATION OTHER THAN THE SPECIFIED RETURN LOCATION ON THE RENTAL AGREEMENT A FEE WILL APPLY: THE FOLLOWING FEE IS PER RENTAL, EX TAX: . EUR 41.18 . FINES ADMIN FEE --------------- AN ADMINISTRATION FEE OF EUR25.00 EXCL.TAX WILL BE CHARGED TO CUSTOMERS PER PARKING AND SPEEDING FINE. THIS CHARGE IS NOT APPLICABLE, IF YOU VERIFY THAT YOU ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DAMAGE, NO DAMAGE HAS OCCURREDOR THE ACTUAL DAMAGE IS LESS THAN THE SPECIFIED CHARGE. .

The point being, read the fine print. Its there for a reason

Posted by
3 posts

I had a Citroen mini van 4C spacetourer with a MSRP of about 21.000 EUR, so the country restrictions for premium vehicles did not matter. I was given no fine print except for a non-specific booklet called Your rental terms. In the booklet it never declares that you can not decline the CDW or TP. I read all 22 pages and nowhere does it state anything about being required to accept CDW and TP for entry into any country. As a matter of fact it mainly talks about what could happen if you decline CDW and TP.

I guess I will have to stop using Expedia for international car rental. I now now the reason Expedia had so much better deals than the Sixt website.

I went to Sixt and put in the same amount of time for the same type of car and the same options and it came out to $755 USD.

With out CDW and TP it was USD $422.

So next time I'll book with Sixt then fly in then take a taxi to another location away from the airport to avoid that awful 23% Location Fee.

Posted by
21334 posts

Another possibility would be to price out what you need with AutoEurope/Kemwel and Gemut, consolidators that others here have been happy with. Several people have posted about how AutoEurope went to bat for them when they had problems with a European rental agency. I have been reading positive guidebook comments about AutoEurope (including that it is often cheaper than booking directly) for many decades. I have not, however, ever rented a car in Europe, so I have no personal experience using any of the companies I've mentioned.

Posted by
2916 posts

A fee for taking the car across borders should not have been a surprise

I've never seen any indication that there could be a cross-border fee for a car rental in Europe; the terms of the vouchers I receive always lists countries that you can't take the car to (Italy is not one of them), but nowhere does it state that countries have to be declared or that there is a fee. Of course the cross-border fee here, which may be bogus, was just a very small part of the overage. The big ticket item was the insurance, and the validity of that I can't comment on. I always use Auto Europe to book cars in France, and there are almost never any surprises. The one time there was, which occurred in the post-rental billing, Auto Europe immediately said that Europcar made an error, and they credited me with the overage.