Was her mother “hoodwinked” by a car rental site?

Kathy Galloway is upset at her car rental company, Dollar Rent a Car, and the site through which she reserved the vehicle, Carrentals.com.

She says she feels “hoodwinked” by them after running up a big bill on a rental in Germany.

But what really happened?

Galloway booked a car through Carrentals.com for her 72-year-old mother, who was flying to Germany on personal business.

The confirmation had total estimated charges of $1,009 which included taxes and fees (based on November’s exchange rate.)

My mother arrived in Frankfurt at the Dollar Rental Car counter and was told that the car was not available, that she would have to take a larger car (at the same rate.)

Secondly and more importantly, she was charged 109 Euros for winter tires. She was also charged 189 Euros for the 19% VAT
tax and 336 Euros for “CDW with 600 Euro SD”.

The total was 1,189 Euros ($1,506), approximately $500 more than the confirmed amount.

I clicked over to Carrentals.com and pulled up a price on a rental in Frankfurt. I seemed to offer an all-inclusive rate (see screenshot).

I decided to check with Dollar. A representative contacted Galloway and told her she should have “gone to their website, which gives details of the rental contract and the additional charges,” she says.

Problem is, the Carrentals.com reservation didn’t tell her she needed to check the Dollar site for extra fees. It offered an “all-in” grand total.

Galloway adds,

The reservation confirmation excluded all these fees to include the winter tires and collision insurance. In fact, on the confirmation it stated that taxes (the 19% German VAT) were included.

What really got my goat was that my mom tried to waive the collision damage (she had her own insurance and was willing to show proof), but the only way to do so was to have an US issued gold or platinum visa card!

Of course, they never told my mother that at the airport. Dollar Rent a Car just told her she couldn’t decline [the insurance].

Dollar and Galloway agreed to a $300 refund — and something is better than nothing — but she says she’ll never book online through Dollar or Carrentals.com again.

I have a theory about what went wrong. It’s possible that the reservation somehow was reset after her mother was offered an upgrade. That would have meant she was paying the agreed-upon rate, but that the taxes would be extra.

As for the winter tires, that’s kind of like charging for air conditioning in the summer. You don’t let your cars off the lot without the proper equipment, and you certainly don’t charge your customers for it.

I’m glad Dollar offered Galloway a partial refund. But did it do enough?

(Photo: pietpuma/Flickr)

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at . Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Google Plus