When Wade Swann rented a vehicle from Hertz in Ireland last September, he thought making a choice between automatic and manual was just a choice, not an upgrade.
But as the old Irish proverb says, “The future is not set, there is no fate but what we make for ourselves.”
Swann appears to have learned the hard and costly lesson that driving choices we see as common in the U.S. are not the same overseas. Therefore, things are not set up the way we think they are. Rather, we have to make the right choices in renting a car, just as we must in life. He also learned that Hertz Ireland is a franchise and doesn’t seamlessly connect with the company in the U.S. (Even its reservation numbers cannot be pulled up in the U.S. Hertz system.)
Swann is a frequent Hertz customer and has always trusted the company to the point where he rarely feels the need to do anything beyond dropping off a rented car and just glancing at the bill on the way to his flight (Perhaps his own Irish proverb was, “Have faith and you will achieve. Good things happen when you believe”). This time, however, he dropped off his vehicle and signed the bill, and only later on did he notice he had been charged $300 for an automatic transmission.
Swann wrote to Elliott.org, saying, “I took a trip to Ireland… When I arrived I was asked if I wanted the manual or automatic. I said automatic.” He said there was no mention of automatic being an upgrade, and had he been informed of this he would have elected to drive the manual version of the car, which was priced at the rate he expected to pay.
Europe is generally known for offering “standard” or “manual” vehicles as the norm. But Swann maintains he did not realize this was the case at Hertz and had no reason to question anything like that when renting. He said he has tried to communicate with Hertz in Ireland by submitting two website requests, making phone calls and sending a tweet, but none of these actions received a response. His efforts went on for two months and he now was past the deadline to dispute the transaction with his Visa card.
Swann says that Hertz has decided to flatly ignore him, and he wants his $300 plus tax refunded to him. He says he Googled this issue and discovered he is not the only person who has run into similar issues with Hertz Ireland. International rental car rules and policies are as much a mystery as driving some of those narrow, winding little roads on the Emerald Isle must be.
It’s a shame some of these things aren’t more widely known before renting cars in other countries, but travelers must also remember to always read what they are signing, even if they have dealt with a company before. Swann could still try again with a polite and concise letter to a higher-level contact from the Hertz executive contacts on our website. He could also post his situation and ask for more advice and assistance from other travelers and experts who post regularly on our forums here: Hertz forums.
Another Irish proverb suggests people need to learn from these kinds of issues and do plenty of research before traveling: “Lack of resource has hanged many a person.”