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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