Farid Currimbhoy can’t figure out why the price of his Dollar rental just tripled. Our advocates help him with the car rental math. “Dollar raised my rate from $105 to $431 — but why?”
Processing a credit card charge for overseas purchases used to be pretty simple. You swiped your card while on vacation, your bank changed the money from pesos or euros into greenbacks, and the amount you’d spent appeared on your bill. Maybe you paid a small conversion fee, but you also got a competitive exchange rate.
Not anymore. Just ask Jae Cuadra, who recently tried to buy a round-trip train ticket between the Swiss cities of Interlaken and Lauterbrunnen. The purchase, at a train station in Interlaken, went on his Capital One Visa card, which doesn’t charge to convert foreign currencies. But “for the first time, I was offered a choice,” says Cuadra, a registered nurse from Westbury, N.Y. “Did I want to pay in dollars or Swiss francs?”
“The dangers of dynamic currency conversion”
From time to time, a case comes across my desk that gets me turned upside-down, because it doesn’t make sense on so many levels. Julie Yu’s dispute with Dollar is one of them.
A few weeks ago, I shared a problem of one reader’s mandatory car rental insurance charge in Mexico. Basically, her vehicle ended up costing a lot more than she thought it would, even though she’d purchased insurance through a third party.
Turns out this happens often. But Yu experienced the same problem — with a dark twist.
“Forced to buy car rental insurance that didn’t cover her”
Question: I’m having a problem with Dollar Rent A Car. When I picked up my car at Southwest Florida International Airport, they did not inspect the car with me, but told me to just go “pick one out.”
The car had some minor paint damage on the rear bumper, but a sticker was attached indicating that the damage was previously identified, so I didn’t give it any further thought. Prior to leaving for the airport on my return trip, I walked around the car to make sure that there was no damage to the vehicle. There was none.
When I returned the car to Dollar at the airport, the guy didn’t bother to inspect the car, so I pointed out the sticker and damage on the rear bumper, and he said, “Yeah that’s previous damage.”
“I rented a damaged car from Dollar — why should I have to pay?”
Question: My wife and I traveled to Las Vegas for a trade show. I decided to use my credit card points to cover my car rental through Dollar Rent a Car.
At the car rental desk I was pressured to take the optional insurance, but I told them I had checked with my insurance agent and that I was covered. After 10 minutes of saying “no” she insisted on making a copy of my credit card. I let her and went on my way.
I rented the car for five days, drove a total of 83 miles, and returned the car with a full tank. A Dollar employee checked the car when I returned it and said everything was “OK.”
“A fee for lighting up in my rental? But I don’t smoke”
The late model Hyundai Elantra that Joe Gershman rented from Dollar in Charleston, SC, recently looked fine from the outside.
But while he was driving the rental car one evening, he discovered it had a big problem.
“No spare tire in my car rental – do I deserve a credit?”
Kathy Galloway is upset at her car rental company, Dollar Rent a Car, and the site through which she reserved the vehicle, Carrentals.com.
“Was her mother “hoodwinked” by a car rental site?”
Question: We rented a car for our month-long vacation in Baltimore through Dollar Rent-A-Car recently. I was quoted a rate of $872 for an economy car.
When we arrived at the counter, we were told they didn’t have any economy cars but that they would give us a midsize car. Even though the gas mileage would be worse than we had planned, we grudgingly accepted.
“Dollar’s ‘additional driver’ fee that won’t go away”
Question: My wife recently rented a car in Columbus, Ohio, from Dollar Rent A Car. When I made the reservation for her, I specifically told them we did not want their extra insurance coverage.
My wife is not a frequent traveler so she called me at the rental car counter that day to ask me if she should accept their insurance coverage charges that they were trying to add to the contract. Since our current auto insurance policy covered rental cars, I told her not to accept their charges.
She specifically told the Dollar Rental car agent in Columbus to not include the $20 a day insurance coverage on her rental agreement. However, these charges were added.
I have contacted Dollar regarding an insurance charge of $104, but they refuse to make any type of adjustment or issue a refund. The customer service person at Dollar said my wife’s electronic signature when she checked out the car is proof that she wanted the insurance coverage. The Dollar counter in Columbus has a small electronic signature unit, and my wife would have had to scroll through many, many pages to see various charges via this tiny signature box unit.
What steps can I take to get a refund? — Ted Van Anne, Colleyville, Texas
Answer: The technology your wife used at the time of her rental should have helped her instead of leaving her with an overcharge of $104.
“The Travel Troubleshooter: She declined insurance, but then signed for it”
If you think the recent series of stories about car rental companies charging customers for “damage” to their vehicles is troubling, then you’re not alone.
I’m bothered by it, too. And so is Christopher Hill, a reader and frequent car renter.
But he’s got an idea: Why not close the loophole on these frivolous claims?
“Why can’t car rental companies give the “all clear” when you return your vehicle?”