Dollar denied them a car but kept their money — is that fair?

By | December 1st, 2016

Four months ago, Matthew Goldsmith and his wife reserved a prepaid Dollar rental car through HolidayCars. When they arrived at the Dollar counter in Boston to pick up the vehicle, Dollar refused to release the rental car to them.

Why? Goldsmith reserved the car under his name as the driver, but his wife used a credit card in her name to prepay the reservation. Dollar told them they couldn’t have a car.

Dollar insisted that the driver and the credit card holder had to be the same person. It didn’t matter that the $350 rental fee had already been paid to HolidayCars.

Goldsmith and his wife reside in Japan, and he has a U.S. driver’s license, but his wife does not. So, he was the one identified as the authorized driver and renter of the vehicle. Goldsmith was directed to the National Car Rental counter nearby and he rented a car for $550.

The next morning, Goldsmith called HolidayCars and was told to send an email so that it could confirm with Dollar that the rental had not been used. Goldsmith immediately sent an email requesting a refund.

Almost a month later, HolidayCars replied. First, HolidayCars apologized for the delay in responding, due to a holiday season. Second, HolidayCars rejected the refund request because when Goldsmith booked through HolidayCars, he agreed to Dollar’s terms and conditions.

Holiday Cars informed Goldsmith that when he booked through their website, he agreed to Dollar’s and HolidayCars’ rental terms.

Dollar’s Rental Conditions, via HolidayCar’s website, provides that “a major credit card in the renter’s own name must be presented at the time of pick-up.” Dollar’s General Policies through its own website similarly states, “to qualify to rent the DOLLAR vehicle, the renter must present at the time of rental a current driver’s license and valid major credit card in the renter’s own name with available credit.”

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HolidayCars’ Rental Conditions stipulate that a rental will not be refunded if the renter cannot rent the car because the renter “is not in possession of the appropriate documentation or is not able to provide a deposit.”

Understandably, Goldsmith was unhappy with HolidayCars’ response.

When he made the reservation on the HolidayCars website, it allowed him to enter his name as the driver and his wife as the credit card holder. HolidayCars took Goldsmith’s money and failed to alert him that he could not rent the car with a different driver and credit card holder. As Goldsmith said, HolidayCars took his money for a rental and “permitted a condition that was impossible to meet with the car provider.”

If the vehicle could not be rented under those conditions, HolidayCars should not have allowed Goldsmith to book, and it certainly shouldn’t have accepted his money. This was a losing proposition for Goldsmith from the moment he paid for the rental, and HolidayCars allowed it to happen by accepting money for a rental car that it knew its customer could never use. When Goldsmith pointed this out to HolidayCars, it took two months to reply to him.

Again, HolidayCars apologized for the late response because, yes, it had been another holiday season. HolidayCars informed Goldsmith that Dollar had not replied to its request to make an exception and cancel his reservation. HolidayCars’ response suggests that it can’t refund Goldsmith’s money unless Dollar will cancel the reservation.

Our advocates suggested that Goldsmith post his issue to our forums to see if company representatives who read the forums, subject matter experts who volunteer to assist consumers, or other consumers who’ve had similar issues could offer some help.

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The forum responses suggested that Goldsmith made a mistake by not reading the terms and conditions and that a polite request to the company may spur it to waive its cancellation policy. Goldsmith can also use the company contacts listed on our website, to reach out to Dollar executives about waiving its cancellation policy.

It’s unfair for the HolidayCars reservation system to accept Goldsmith’s reservation when the reservation is not going to be honored at all. Goldsmith made a mistake by not reviewing the Dollar rental conditions, which were available through HolidayCars’ website. It’s a $350 mistake.

Should we advocate with Dollar for Richard Goldsmith and his wife?

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  • Ben

    Presumably he had a valid major credit card to present at pick-up? Then he met Dollar’s terms and you should definitely advocate for him. It shouldn’t matter how the rental fee was paid.

    If not, it’s a little less clear. While I think there should be an exception for a married couple, it is reasonable for Dollar to require a deposit or credit card hold from the person actually driving.

  • disqus_00YDCZxqDV

    Cant believe he did not know that the driver and the credit card have to have the same name on it. That’s been the case whenever I have rented a car for years now.

  • MarkK

    The rental was pre-paid on the wife’s credit card. If Husband drove and got into an accident, could Dollar go after the wife’s CC to charge for damages?. Dollar acknowledges that the wife was not driving by giving the car to the Husband.

  • Corazon Lisiado

    Yes, because everybody who lives in Japan should be familiar with American rental car policies.

  • JewelEyed

    Here’s the question though. Why is that necessary? If I were stranded at an airport and my boyfriend set up a car rental for me while I waited to get a better deal than I could walking up, why should they give a rat’s hindquarters who paid for it or whether I have the card? Assuming that having the physical card is the issue…if I’m going to drive the car but my boyfriend is paying for it and he’s with me, if he’s present with the card, why does it matter who the driver is? He can verify that he’s the one paying for it and taking on the responsibility for all costs incurred by signing off.

  • sirwired

    I can understand that the system won’t automatically reject rentals with a driver name different from the credit card. (Maiden names, with/without a middle initial, Jr./Sr./III, etc.) But certainly they could send each such reservation for a five-second check by a human, who can easily determine that J Louis Smith (Credit Card) is probably the same person as James L Smith (Drivers License), but not the same person as Mary Q Smith.

  • Bill___A

    Holiday shouldn’t have taken the booking, but why do people do this to themselves? They set themselves up for failure. Did they use HIS credit card for the rental they eventually did get? If so, why didn’t they do that with the prepaid one?


    I have rented in Japan and it was the rule there–no credit card in the name of the driver, then no rental.

  • greg watson

    What am I missing here ? The husband shows his drivers licence & ‘his’ credit card, for whatever, (as the charge has been prepaid) and drives away into the sunset ???

  • Kerr

    The issue is it was prepaid with her card and she lacks a valid US drivers licence.

  • Jeff W.

    Because if something happens to the car, the rental car has an immediate method for recovering its costs.

    It is trying to avoid the legal hassles when person A (you) damages a car being paid for by person B (boyfriend). Especially in the situation you describe whereby the two of you are not married. It wants to reduce the possibility of the boyfriend disputing the charge because he was not driving

  • Lindabator


  • MarkKelling

    Couldn’t they have just added him as a secondary driver and charged the appropriate fee?

    While not a perfect solution, at least they would not have been out the full $350 plus the additional cost of renting last minute from some other place.

  • RightNow9435

    “to qualify to rent the DOLLAR vehicle, the renter must present at the
    time of rental a current driver’s license and valid major credit card in
    the renter’s own name with available credit.”

    So, as long as the OP presented a valid credit card in his name, the car should have been given to him. It does NOT say anything about the credit card needing to be the same one as the deposit was made with.

  • Alan Gore

    If a way of screwing the customer exists, Dollar will find it. The sheer chutzpah of renting you a prepaid car that cannot legally be picked up by the customer and then keeping his money anyway defies belief. I would love to see some executives perp-walked for such behavior. A few years wearing orange with Bubba The Lonesome Biker as a cellmate would teach them a few things about customer service.

    In any case, it’s not a good idea to ever prepay for a rental car; if a problem crops up at checkout, even something so simple as missing your connection and not presenting on time, they already have your money and need do nothing for you. Yes, you may be offered a cheaper deal by prepaying, but the risk is not worth it.

  • Rebecca

    My last name has an apostrophe, and it’s long – O’Shaughnessy – and it’s a huge hassle. So many companies are running antiquated operating systems, they don’t allow the character. I can definitely vouch that this happens to me ALL the time. More often than you’d think. My legal name (per my social security card) has an apostrophe. I’ve lived in 3 states, and none of those allowed the apostrophe on my drivers license. Which is further complicated by the fact that some put a space (O Sh…), some mush it together (OSh…), and others capitalize it differently (Osh…). My passport does have an apostrophe. Its honestly a headache.

  • Barthel

    Why use Holiday to rent the car? Whenever I have rented for personal use, I have made the reservation by phone to the location where I would pick up the car.

  • sirwired

    I shall solve the mystery of the apostrophe for you:

    SQL (Structured Query Language), a VERY common language used in database programming (and in wide use everywhere today, even for new stuff), uses an apostrophe as their quotation mark. (Why didn’t they use the double-quote? No idea.) If the system interprets the apostrophe in your name as a quotation mark, it would think the “Shaughnessy” is an actual SQL command, which, alas, it is not.

    In computer security, when this is done on purpose, this is called a “SQL Injection Attack”. (As in, submitting your name as “Rebecca O’DELETE * FROM CUSTOMER_TABLE”, which would wipe out the company’s entire list of customers.)

    There are proper ways to handle this and not reject names, but many programmers are lazy and simply won’t accept the apostrophe to begin with.

  • MarkKelling

    So, there are plenty of foreign visitors every day to the US who do not have a US driver’s license and still manage to rent cars. Also, it does not state anywhere that the wife had any kind of driver’s license at all, which I think is the root of the issue.

    I do admit if someone showed me a Japanese driver’s license, which would probably be what the wife had if anything, I would not have a clue what it was unless it had English text on it (I doubt it does). That is where the International Driving Permit comes in handy since it translates your license and the details on it into several other languages allowing people in other countries to know you are showing them a license and not a library card. :-)

  • MarkKelling

    Or you could have used the example of a comma in a field in an CSV file trying to be imported into Excel.

    Since by definition a CSV file has the various columns of data separated by commas in each record, an extra comma or two throws a wrench in the works. So Excel has you put double quotes around any field with an imbedded comma and problem solved.

    SQL could have used any number of less common characters in place of the single quote or apostrophe. But too late to change that now! There are college classes and thousand page books written on how to scrub input data going into a SQL system to make sure what a devious person enters doesn’t turn into a disaster if the SQL you are running can’t properly handle it.

  • MarkKelling

    Probably got miles or points or no foreign exchange fees on the card they used. But it was most likely they don’t rent cars that often and didn’t think it through. But even when I rented maybe once a year or so I always just seemed to know that everything had to match. No one had to instruct me.

  • Rebecca

    Super interesting, thank you. I will impress my in-laws the next time we visit!

    And, more than once, I’ve spelled my name and had someone ask: “what’s an apostrophe?”. Seriously, native English speakers.

  • Rebecca

    I saw situations like this when I worked for a credit card company. Someone would allow a “friend” to rent a car, listing themselves as a driver. Then said “friend” drives off into the sunset, with the vehicle eventually being reported stolen and (usually) recovered at a total loss. Or “friend” had an accident, but didn’t have insurance and/or money to cover damages.

    The credit card company receives these types of chargeback relatively often, I saw a decent amount. And the consumer ALWAYS lost the dispute. Every time. Usually, the available credit was significantly less than the amount owed. I don’t know who/if the rental car agency goes after for the rest. But I can tell you the person holding the credit card is inevitably stuck with the bill.

  • disqus_00YDCZxqDV

    I’ve rented in the UK and Europe and it’s the rule there too

  • disqus_00YDCZxqDV

    I hope colleges don’t teach scrubbing as the answer to SQL injection attacks when the actual solution is using parameterized queries! With that you can add a customer called David O’;Drop Table Users with complete safety !

  • Bill___A

    Everybody who rents a car without using a travel agent should be familiar with the way that it is done pretty much in every developed country, with every major car rental agency. When they don’t, they get problems and others can hopefully learn from them by reading posts like this. That said, the agency should have worked with him to get it done properly.

  • Alan Gore

    The point that all the industry apologists here keep missing is why a rental company that refuses to rent, for whatever silly reason, feels justified in not returning the customer’s money. No transaction was consummated here.

  • JewelEyed

    If the person with the card signs the paperwork stating he or she is responsible, I can’t see how they can dispute the charge anyway. Thanks for the explanation though.

  • JewelEyed

    Perhaps, but the good news is that if this would work and if both parties have a license, adding a second driver might be a viable solution if someone makes this error in the future. Good idea.

  • PsyGuy

    Bad consumer, read the rules of your purchase. That said, dispute this with your bank card, this si one of the easy ones to win. If Dollar want’s to sue they can do so.

  • PsyGuy

    Well a lot of them are, it’s very common for Japanese to fly to hawaii or Guam to play golf and shop (and weddings).

  • PsyGuy

    Then your boyfriend should be the gentleman to pay for his ladies conveyance.

  • PsyGuy

    That’s actually a pretty realistic and accurate reason. Of course the boyfriend should and could also agree to cover any damages with his bank card.

  • PsyGuy

    This is why I specifically keep a CC with only a $300 limit, enough for a week’s rental fees and not much else.

  • PsyGuy

    I have an apostrophe in my name as well, and I essentially have three different names depending on the system used.

  • PsyGuy

    Could of should of, doesn’t really matter you’re not changing the structure of SQL.

  • PsyGuy

    Depends on the training program a lot of coding bootcamps focus on getting coders in the chair.

  • PsyGuy

    Dollar just saw an easy money grab.

  • PsyGuy

    Sure but then they wouldn’t be able to keep the money while not providing anything. They rented that car to another PAX and got double paid for one car.

  • PsyGuy

    Well it’s called “Dollar”, the problem is that if you want any type of deeply discounted travel anything you basically have to pre-pay.

  • jim6555

    They will have to file the suit in a court in Japan. It’s extremely unlikely that they would bother.

  • Michael__K

    No, he wouldn’t “know” that because it’s not generally even accurate. Just last month we saw a case where the credit card and the driver had different names. And you didn’t see any problem with that (e.g. that the rental company was violating its own rules).

  • The Original Joe S

    Charge back to these thieves and let them try to get it from the OP.

  • The Original Joe S

    because they are obdurate thieving dirtbags, and will try to steal as much as they can.
    “you dented the car”
    “you didn’t fill up”

  • The Original Joe S

    Because they are thieves.

  • The Original Joe S

    good move

  • The Original Joe S

    Answer: “It’s an Irish suppository, you who didn’t pay attention in school!”

  • The Original Joe S

    Why should they have to think it through? Why is it a game to deal with the thieving dirtbags? Why doesn’t the dirtbag company help the customer instead of trying to steal his money?

  • The Original Joe S

    to save a dime?

  • greg watson

    So what ? The rental has been prepaid on the wife’s credit card. The husband shows his driver’s licence & credit card, & should get a car. I want Elliot to take the case & explain. Otherwise, Dollar is right off of my list of potential car renters ! ??

  • MarkKelling

    Rules is rules. :-)

    They don’t hire people to work the desk that are allowed to think.

  • greg watson

    I am guessing that neither one of these companies want to stay in business !!

  • The Original Joe S


  • John McDonald

    maybe they were drunk ? The credit card thing is just a story maybe.

  • LonnieC

    Exactly what I was thinking. If according to their “rules” the card was not valid, then why accept it? If they accept it, I would argue that they have waived their own rules, placed him in a position of reliance, and are obligated to provide him a car. If they don’t/can’t accept the card, then they need not rent him a car, but at that point owe him/her a refund. They provided him with nothing (actually, worse then nothing), and have absolutely no claim to his/her money. I’d make a claim for a full refund with the credit card company.

  • Michael__K

    That’s not the issue here though. We have no reason to believe Person A doesn’t have their own credit card which they can supply as the driver. The issue is that Person B prepaid and the business won’t honor the prepaid reservation.

    Furthermore, when Person A and B are legally married, then they are both liable for the damage anyway.

  • PsyGuy


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