Shaken down by a car rental agent

How far will a car rental company go to get a customer to buy its highly profitable “optional” insurance policy? If you said, “Too far,” then you must know Cheryl Manzo.

Manzo rented a car from Economy Rent a Car in Orlando recently. “When I arrived to pick up rental Saturday morning, a representative told me I had to pay additional $60 for insurance,” she says. The reason? “I did not have my policy declaration page with me,” she says.

Huh? Last time I checked, insurance was totally optional for most rental cars. How odd.

“I did have my insurance card with basic information and suggested we call the company so he could have the proof he required. He refused. Then I suggested I could call home and have my husband fax or email or text a copy, but no, that wasn’t acceptable either,” she says.

Now, we’ve heard stories about unscrupulous car rental agents pulling the ol’ insurance swindle, but it’s normally on tourists visiting from out of the country. They say insurance is required for foreign visitors, and — boom! — your car rental bill doubles. You’ve been scammed!

But Manzo is American, and she’s been renting cars in the States for years. Never before has she experienced something like this. A closer look at her case is merited.

The representative told Manzo she was in luck. She could avoid the required insurance if she paid Economy a $2,000 deposit, which “the company would keep even if there was something minor as a scratch,” she says.

“That seemed excessive and wrong,” she says. “He insisted I needed to pay the additional $60, or he would have the van driver take me back to the airport.”

So Manzo reluctantly paid the extra $60 for insurance and decided to take the matter up later with the company, and if that didn’t work, with our advocacy team.

“In the van returning to the airport, I chatted with a couple who did not have to pay the extra money for insurance,” she says. “But they did witness that same scenario with two young female renters. Interesting. Does Economy only charge this fee when they think they can get away with it?

Well, the suspense is killing me here. We reached out to Economy to get its side of the story.

We apologize for the lack of consideration in the service she received when she arrived: there is never an excuse for poor service. We contacted our Orlando affiliate manager with regard to her issue, and this is their response:

1. I’m not sure where the disconnect stems from; but this customer used her own insurance. She did NOT purchase insurance through Economy, as she provided her Erie insurance card. The customer states that she did not have her declaration, just basics with her an insurance card. Her insurance card does NOT give us adequate information; no deductibles indicating transfer to car rental.

2. The customer purchased the Umbrella Policy which allowed her to self-insure without placing the required deposit of $1000. She did not have to opt for this, as this is an optional service. As stated initially, “he offered me the option of leaving a $2000 deposit which the company would keep for a minor scratch” which is correct.

The customer needs to understand that we are serving her with a $20K vehicle; the least we can do is verify coverage. All policies are disclosed at the time of rental, as we have hundreds of customers that self-insure. We understand that not all customers read terms and conditions, which is why policies are reiterated at the time of pickup.

3. We do not accept fax, nor a text message of the policy. We need to ensure that the policy is active.

While we wish to satisfy every customer, our shuttle would have been able to return [her] to the airport and rent from a different vendor if not wishing to adhere to our policies.

No reimbursements will be issued. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Well, this response is noteworthy for several reasons.

If I’m reading this correctly, then Economy won’t rent a car to customers without proof of insurance, a fact that it says it clearly disclosed to customers. While there’s no legal requirement that a car rental customer have insurance, it is an industry standard practice to make the purchase of insurance optional. Economy is deviating from that policy, a decision that is almost certainly helping it make a few more bucks.

Economy doesn’t deny that its representative threatened to put Manzo on the next van back to the airport. That tactic really feels a little like bullying.

The “no fax” rule seems intended to make it all the more difficult to prove you have a valid policy and to compel you to buy Economy’s “optional” policy. Again, that feels wrong.

So there you have it: In an effort to boost sales of their insurance, some car rental companies are insisting you show them a valid policy on real paper. Something to remember the next time you see an unbelievably good car rental deal in Orlando, or anywhere else for that matter.

It may actually be too good to be true.

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirportParkingReservations.com

With nearly 20 years in the industry, over 128 airport covered in the U.S. and Canada, and over 1,000 Hotel and Parking Partners-we provide travelers the best options on how to get to the airport when flying. Whether you want to; drive yourself and park near an Airport (Airport Parking), stay the night before your flight at an airport hotel and leave your car (Hotel and Parking Package), or take a shared Shuttle/Private Car/Limo to the Airport- we got you covered. The best deals can be found online, and booking a reservation has never been easier. You can explore all of our options by visiting us at AirportParkingReservations.com, ParkSleepFly.com, AirportParking.com, and ShuttleFinder.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Cavalry Travel Insurance

Cavalry takes the worry of out travel by providing 24/7 access to medical and security professionals combined with the best medical evacuation and security extraction services. Cavalry gets you home safely when you need it most. Learn more at Cavalrytravelinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by G1G.com

Since its inception over three decades ago, G1G has continued to revolutionize the travel insurance industry by being the only aggregator to operate a customer portal, placing all of the user's primary needs in one place. We have continued to innovate and disrupt the market by reimagining the way travel insurance can be delivered to the end user in ways no competition can. Simply put, no one knows the market as well as its founders and no one else shares G1G values and mission.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

Send this to a friend