“What should I have done in this situation?”

The car rental insurance scam is a fairly well-known “gotcha” for international renters, and it’s a trap Doreen Murphy believes she walked right into when she rented a car from Budget in Northern Ireland recently.

Murphy wants my help in sorting out a surprise upcharge from Budget, but I’m not sure if I can — or should — try to unravel this for her.

Northern Ireland has its own pecular car rental insurance requirements, and apparently only one brand of MasterCard coverage meets its strict criteria. In other words, if you’re not renting with a MasterCard, you have to buy extra insurance.

Murphy had a price quote from Budget through its U.S. website that included taxes and insurance: 10 days for 230 pounds for a Skoda Octavia “or similar.”

“When we got to the rental desk in the airport they claimed there was no record of it,” she says. “I showed them my copy and still they would not honor it. We were stuck, and thinking that I would complain to the main office in the city of Belfast within 24 hours, we
signed a new agreement.”

The new rate for the same car was $471 more than the one originally quoted to her.

“I complained to Budget in Ireland as well as Budget in the U.S. when I returned home. I also complained to MasterCard. All to no avail,” she says.

Murphy feels as if Budget pulled a fast one and that she had no choice but to pay whatever it asked her to.

“What should I have done in this situation?” she asks.

In hindsight, there was probably a better way to handle this. Murphy appears to have had the MasterCard coverage for her insurance, and a printout of her reservation that specifically said insurance was also included in her rental. If the local Budget office didn’t honor the price, she could have phoned the number on her reservation — and failing that, she could have taken her business to another car rental company at the airport.

A review of Budget’s written response suggests there was a small misunderstanding. Far from losing her reservation, Budget did in fact honor her original price. But its records show she opted for more expensive “cross-border” coverage — which neither her credit card nor the original quote covered — and a charge for an additional driver.

Hence the extra $471 — it’s almost all insurance.

I’m disappointed by the way this one turned out. Budget could have done a much better job of explaining its charges and the mandatory insurance she would have apparently been required to carry by crossing the border.

Then again, another part of me suspects that the folks at the car rental counter saw someone with an American passport and thought: “We can easily double our income from this rental — watch this!”

Heck, you don’t even have to be visiting another country for that to happen. I’m dealing with another car rental case where someone was asked to pay for “required” car rental insurance right here in Orlando. She did, even though there is no such requirement.

The question is, what should I do about it? If I take this to Budget, I’m almost certain I’ll get exactly the same response. I’d love to retrieve Murphy’s $471, but I fear this one may be a lost cause.

“I really believe that it was a plain old-fashioned scam,” she says.

Should I mediate Doreen Murphy's case?

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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 chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • polexia_rogue

    yeah the website (in fact most websites) leave off the “add a 2nd driver” fee.

    even Alamo which i love because you can add about 12 different possible fees to your total does not list the possibility of a 2nd driver.

    as for the “cross-border coverage” i believe Budget did what is said.–if you admit you plan on taking the car out of the legal area then they will charge you.

    i opted out of that (meaning i lied) even though i was planning a trip from Wisconsin to Toronto (so i would have been screwed if my car broke down.)

    but i think the OP thought she HAD to tell the truth. (foreign country, foreign laws, etc…)and as the result she was charged.

    what Budget did was perfectly legal. maybe next time she will know what to expect.

  • http://flyicarusfly.com/ Fly, Icarus, Fly

    If the $471 were legit fees: add 2nd driver + cross-border charge, then no, it’s not a scam. But how hard would that have been to explain that at check-in? Perhaps the OP didn’t realize that she was going to drive it across the border? Unless she didn’t, I think she’s stuck. Just because she didn’t realize there would be added fees because she wanted to do things above and beyond using the car in the coverage area when she booked isn’t really an excuse. I hope she otherwise enjoyed her vacation, though!

  • Blackadar

    $471 in fees/insurance on a rental that costs $351 (which is the exchange rate of 230 pounds)? I can understand some fees for something like an extra driver, but that’s beyond absurd – it’s a clear sign of a scam when the fees are more than the rental itself!

    So in this case, mediation is necessary, just if to explain why their fees are outrageous!.

  • EdB

    Did she tell the counter there would be a second driver and they would be going across the border? All it says in the story is the counter had no record of it and after getting back they found out it was for these two things AND they still charged her the original quoted price. This smells of scam to me. They had the reservation but acted like they couldn’t find it but then added these other items to make more from the reservation. I think it might be worth a simple query to Budget.

  • backprop

    Yea, I think that’s the big question here. But did she opt for the extras at the Budget office? She was silent on the issue which at first made me think she did. I would think she’d be loudly protesting if Budget claimed she wanted an additional service when she really didn’t.

  • mencik

    I voted “No” only because I believe you would be wasting your time that could be spent on more winnable cases, not that she didn’t get scammed.

  • l2y2

    I voted no mediation, Chris. I think maybe she didn’t realize how much was involved in renting a car in the UK, and under-estimated the poor exchange rate for the USD. We just rented a car from Avis in England; pick up in London and drop off in Birmingham. Our insurance company told us to take full coverage, as they do not cover a rental at all in the UK. We paid an extra $45 USD for full insurance coverage with no deductible. If you’ve ever driven a stick on the right on the small, narrow, curvy roads in the UK, you would know why we went on the side of caution…we had many close calls. We would have had to pay another $35 USD per day for me to drive the car, in addition to my husband. We opted to not. With taxes added in, the original rental of $255 USD for three days became $480 USD. We knew the numbers before renting the car and knew it was still less expensive than the train for three days for 3 people and much more flexible for seeing everything we wanted to see. Anyway, our experience was that with added fees, taxes, and the exchange rate (she also added the extra driver), it can escalate quickly.

  • Michael__K

    She must have been charged for much more than just the standard cross border traffic fee and additional driver fee.

    According to budget.com, the cross border traffic charge is 20GBP per rental and the additional driver charge is 7GBP + tax per rental. If we assume the highest VAT rate (23%) that still works out to 20GBP + 86 GBP = 110 GBP or ~$162. Not **$471**.

    Additional Driver Fee of GBP 7 per day plus tax applies

    Cross border traffic: Cars rented in England, Scotland and Wales must stay within England, Scotland and Wales. For Other Destinations: Renter MUST contact the location directly for authorization to travel to other destinations. Cars hired in Northern Ireland are allowed into Southern Ireland with a charge of 20 GBP per rental for additional insurance Coverage. For Other Destinations: Renter MUST contact the location directly for authorization to travel to other destinations. Cars rented on the Channel Islands: Cross border traffic is not allowed.

  • SoBeSparky

    What’s there to mediate? The charges appear to be legit. She is the one who should have known her Mastercard would not cover cross-border rentals. She should have read the Mastercard agreement. The exclusions usually are easily found and in plain English. As for the second driver, there always is a charge for additional driver, sometimes nominal, sometimes not.

    We have her version that is contradicted by the rental car agency which gave her the rate she booked…plus extras she opted for. No one made her add a driver or drive cross-border. It was her option and she took it voluntarily.

    I detect that perhaps she is upset at her carelessness in not reading the reservation form and MasterCard agreement. Anytime you check those boxes for additional services/options, then you can expect to pay for them.

  • Guest

    Can you point me to where in the story she told the agent at the counter there would be an extra driver and they would be crossing the border as I must have missed that part. I did see the part where the agent said they could not find her reservation even with her showing the print out of it.

    It sounds to me, based on the information given in the story, they were charges added to the original reservation quote, and based on another reply, higher than they should have been. It looks like you are reading a lot into the situation that was not presented in the story.

  • MarkKelling

    I think they mean 20 GBP per rental DAY for the insurance. Rental car companies bill everything by the day, not just per rental. So on a 10 day rental, that would be 200 for insurance and 70 for extra driver or 270 GBP or $412 at today’s rate plus the taxes. Sounds close.

  • http://tsanewsblog.com/214/news/history-repeats-itself-with-tsas-strip-search-tactics/ Lisa Simeone

    That’s what I thought, too, but we just rented a car in France from Europcar and they charged us only 62 Euros insurance for the whole week, not per day.

    (P.S. Took the QM2 across the ocean instead of flying — beyond wonderful.)

  • JTraveler

    If she had a confirmed reservation (not just a “price quote”), then Budget should have honored the price. If she had just an estimate, but not made a reservation, then she probably does not have a case.

  • john4868

    I rent in Ireland a lot. I honestly think that this is a case where Doreen didn’t understand what she needed in order to drive where she was going. While there are a few CC that cover insurance in Northern Ireland, I’m not aware of any that cover the Republic. If she was driving down into Ireland itself, as opposed to staying in the North, she would have needed the additional insurance to drive in the Republic which is significantly more expensive.

    Without knowing where she drove to, its hard to judge on if this is a case of insurance oversell or traveler ignorance. I couldn’t vote.

  • Michael__K

    No, Budget’s terms clearly state per rental and this is consistent with what other companies’ terms state as well.

  • MarkKelling

    What “it” was there no record of? The entire reservation? Or just the extra driver and leaving the country? Yes, Ireland is another country not part of Northern Ireland. Did the conversation start out at the rental counter with the Budget rep asking where they would be traveling and when she told them that their plans included somewhere outside of Northern Ireland and both of them would be driving she was told she needed to pay extra? Rental agreements and the online renting process can be confusing even to regular renters if you are doing something outside of normal.

    I am not that familiar with Budget’s rental site, but just now trying to do a rental, there is no place to even enter that level of detail. But there is a pop up labeled “terms & conditions” that provides the extras and the costs but still no way to select those on the web site which would have probably reduced the confusion. I know from every car rental site I use that there is no place to enter information about leaving the country, but every rental agreement given to me at rental time states what the area is that I can’t leave and they all say I cannot leave the country with the vehicle. While I disagree with the extra driver charge, it is legally allowed. So there is nothing wrong done by Budget, but they could have been clearer by allowing the selection of those items at reservation time instead of waiting until the renter gets to the counter.

  • MarkKelling

    The confirmation you get from Budget does not even allow the entry of extra driver and leaving the country info. It also states you will be charged extra if any of these conditions apply.

  • MarkKelling

    Glad to hear you had a great trip. Heading to Europe myself in a few days, looking forward to it. But no rental car there for me!

  • EdB

    Whether she knew what she needed to drive in the country is really irrelevant to this story. The issue was the agent at the counter claims they could not find her reservation and it was that issue that lead to the new agreement and pricing. If they had found her reservation, we probably wouldn’t be hearing about this. She could be a regular renter in Ireland and knows all the requirements and have the right insurance coverage (the story mentions about the one brand of MasterCard that does cover insurance in Ireland and because she complained to MC about it, probably had the right card).

  • SoBeSparky

    I am referring to the response from Budget: “But its records show she opted for more expensive “cross-border” coverage — which neither her credit card nor the original quote covered — and a charge for an additional driver.”

    Now, she is silent on these matters. Did she look at the rental agreement before she signed it and the invoice and see these itemized additional charges? Did she in fact cross the border and have an additional driver? She is silent on these matters, when in fact a rental agreement and final billing receipt when you return the car will specifically itemize these, at least in the U.S.A.

    She does not mention these. Why? Buyer’s remorse? I can’t see any scam or misleading practices if these additional items show up on the agreement and the billing receipt.

    Of course, always read before you sign. How can you dispute these options after you voluntarily agreed to them? Notwithstanding the alleged confusion over the reservation, it appears she was charged according to what she signed in advance.

  • JenniferFinger

    One thing I wonder is if other car rental options were available to the OP when Budget refused to honor its quote. If I were told that I had to add on insurance at more than the price of the car itself, I’d be looking for another rental agency. Of course there may not have been other options, but I’d like to know that before I vote on whether or not you should take her case.

  • MarkKelling

    Thanks. I learned something new today. 20 GBP per rental sounds like a bargain for insurance. Especially considering what rental car companies charge in the US for insurance. It can be more per day than the rental charge itself.

  • EdB

    That was on the new agreement *AFTER* they claimed they couldn’t find her new one. When the counter agent was putting it together, they could have easily added these things on. Was she really silent on these points or was the story edited and that information not given? We don’t know. We can only go by what is given.

    The whole issue here, as I see it, is Budget not being able to find the reservation and forcing her into a new agreement, an agreement with charges that may or may not be legitimate. I would agree with Hal that you are reading a lot more into this than what is presented.

  • john4868

    Actually, Chris’s story discusses MC having insurance in Northern Ireland which a completely different country than Ireland. (NI is part of the UK). He also states that she was charged the quoted price but they added cross-border insurance and and additional driver.

    If she was driving from Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland, she was charged correctly and she made a mistake in making her initial reservation. That would be her mistake and the counter staff charged her correctly. If she stayed in Belfast the entire time, the counter staff made an error. Without knowing where she went, its hard to know what happened.

  • john4868

    Michael__K Here’s something you may have missed or may be lost in translation. In the UK, most drivers take CDW waivers as part of the rental. Knowing that mindset, that statement assumes that the renter has taken their insurance (which would include coverage in NI and Ireland). The OP declined their insurance. If her card did not cover her in Ireland, they would have charged her for the CDW and the cross border fee.

    Again, there isn’t enough information here to make a judgement without know the card she has and the route she traveled.

  • john4868

    Here’s the link I found to MC’s standard rental coverage. It excludes coverage in Ireland but does not exclude NI


  • Michael__K

    Based on the FAQ Chris links to from the article, it sounds like this cross border fee is not for insurance per se but to expand the boundaries of the 24-hour roadside coverage area. If the OP had a Gold or Platinum Mastercard that should have covered insurance on either or both sides of the border.

  • Michael__K

    This is the relevant information:

    Murphy appears to have had the MasterCard coverage for her insurance, and a printout of her reservation that specifically said insurance was also included in her rental.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    From some of the other info provided by other posters, it sounds like she could still dispute they overcharged her for what she got. The cross border charge apparently should have been 20 pounds in total with the additional driver being around 7 pounds per day. She had a printout saying her MC would cover the insurance.

  • emanon256

    Not sure if you rented lately, but that is pretty much the case everywhere. Here is a rental in the US. Once I added insurance, the insurance and tax comes to almost the same price as the renal. Add the additional driver (Which I can’t do on-line), and taxes and fees are well over the cost of the rental.

  • TonyA_says

    Same with airlines. The YQ/YR surcharges for a lot of international flights are often larger than the base fare.
    It’s the “new” consumer math or economy :)
    They must have learned it from investment bankers since in the finance world it’s the FEES that make the big boys really rich.

  • emanon256

    That and many fees are not subject to income tax, or the ones that are are taxed, get taxed at a lower rate. IMHO that’s the #1 reason everyone is unbundling.

    I remember one time (Before airlines had to advertise the AI price) I found a sale fare on EWR-MUC for $190 R/T. After tax it was in the $400s. Still a good deal and I really wanted to tour Munich, so I still bought it.

  • TonyA_says

    In flyertalk and milepoint, there are extremely long posts discussing fuel dump, 2x, 3x and other funny names about strategies to reduce these fees.
    Looks like some people just want to get even with the airlines in this FEE game they are playing.

  • MarkKelling

    Ireland is excluded even for the cards that cover you in Northern Ireland. There is only 1 MasterCard that even covers you in Northern Ireland. Why? Don’t know. Probably because of excessive scams. So even if she has the 1 card that covers you in Northern Ireland, she would not have been covered when (if) she went into the rest of Ireland.

  • emanon256

    I don’t like the fee games, while I also don’t like the fees, I think gaming them is dishonest. Though I am curious what they do. I don’t look at any of the dirty tricks or hack fares on Flyer Talk. I actually got the sale fare I was talking about from the TravelZoo news letter. They often have very good deals.

  • MarkKelling

    The FAQ refers to cars rented in the Republic of Ireland that you drive into Northern Ireland and is specific to that company (which has a banner advertisement on the page as I type this, interesting huh?). Not sayin the same would not be true in the other direction, but you would have to get the details from the specific rental company.

  • Michael__K

    From the FAQ Chris linked:

    Will My Credit Card Cover Me for CDW and Theft insurance’s?

    The only credit card insurance that covers for Auto rental insurance in the Republic of Ireland is MasterCard Gold or Platinum (issued in the United States).

    So contrary to what you assert, those cards DO offer coverage in the South. And the OP picked up in the North and the reservation stated that insurance was already included in her rental there.

    Why are people so determined to reach — without any foundation — for reasons to justify the additional charges here?

  • Michael__K

    I already quoted the details (terms and conditions) from the specific rental company (Budget).

  • MarkKelling

    For the same reason many are trying to find fault in the company for charging them — we don’t have the full story with all the details. :-)

  • Michael__K

    Who is “trying to find fault in the company?”

    I’ve referenced the relevant terms and conditions. I didn’t know what they would say before I checked. Why would you assume that there are other relevant terms and conditions here in Budget’s favor unless you can actually find them?

  • SoBeSparky

    I think you guys have seen all the smoke given by Ms. Murphy, and overlooked the fire, that is, she signed a contract.

    The rental agency tells us what she signed, and I presume it can prove it. She never told us about the contract itemization of costs, but if Budget can prove it, then just what is there to mediate? A lost reservation?

    (All the other data provided by posters is quite irrelevant. We must go on what the two parties have told us, however incomplete. Note that Budget says Ms. Murphy signed a contract for an additional driver and the cross-border option, so MasterCard is more smoke. It simply does not apply.)

    A buyer has the incontrovertible obligation to read what they contract themselves to do before they sign it. We are not talking about fine print here. We are talking about the proposed charges on a car rental contract, usually quite prominent on the cover page.

    Budget says it has a record of the signed contract with the additional requested options. That’s why all the parties she complained to turned her down. Ms. Murphy is a disgruntled tourist with buyer’s remorse.

    P.S. On what planet does someone get the idea that they can sign a contract today and tomorrow have it changed to one’s liking? “We were stuck, and thinking that I would complain to the main office in the city of Belfast within 24 hours, we signed a new agreement.”

  • Geographer

    Her name is Murphy, as Irish as you can get, but does she have no sense of the long standing issues between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. Taking a car with a GB or Northern Ireland plates across the border targets it for a little trouble or mischief. Was that not explained to her? No case tho take up here.

  • LFH0

    One of the problems here, as with many travel-related issues, is that the victim either does not have, or chooses not to use, any leverage at the time. Ms. Murphy (and others similarly-situated) might have said to the rental agency that if it did not live up to its end of the bargain, that she would simply utilize public transportation instead of a rental vehicle. Would the rental agency have seen the tables turned, that it was no longer just $471 in additional charges but rather the entire rental fee which was at stake? Perhaps not since so many people will simply acquiesce, but if more people did simply say “no” at the time then maybe there would be a different attitude among travel service providers, i.e., dealing with customers fairly is important.

    Unfortunately, many people cannot (or will not) use the leverage. The common thought is that I must get on “this” flight, I must rent “this” car, I am too important to use public transportation . . . they leave no bargaining room for themselves, and thereby give all the bargaining power to the travel service provider. Consumers should think about how to gain the upper hand if at all possible, and then use it.

    Sometimes this strategy works (e.g., hotels with competitors nearby). Sometimes not (e.g., after a delayed arrival in Philadelphia an Amtrak agent insisted on collecting additional fare on a later connecting train, not withstanding much less expensive fares by bus . . . I traveled on BoltBus instead). Whether or not it works is probably influenced by whether or not the employees are empowered to use discretion in the interest of their employer, or if they’re viewed by management as robots who are never permitted to deviate from the script. But so long as we lock ourselves into wanting specific things, we will have less bargaining power with which to fight back.

  • EdB

    Her last name has no bearing on the case. So what if she has an Irish sir name. That doesn’t mean she has ever been to Ireland before or even knows anything about the history. That may not even be her given name. Maybe it’s he married name. According to that logic, anyone without an Irish name wouldn’t know anything about the country.

  • Michael__K

    Here is an example of a Mastercard that offers master rental insurance coverage and no restrictions in the Republic of Ireland:


    And you can find plenty of Irish sources online that confirm that there are Mastercards that cover insurance in the Republic:


    The only credit card insurance that covers for Auto rental insurance in the Republic of Ireland is MasterCard Gold or Platinum (issued in the United States). Please contact MasterCard direct to have this confirmed to you.


    MasterCard CDW waiver (For US Residents holding a MasterCard Gold or Platinum)

    Master Rental Insurance may allow you to avoid the additional cost of the theft and collision damage waiver (CDW) for rental cars in some countries. This coverage is ONLY available with Gold or Platinum MasterCards issued by US banks. If you pay for the entire rental with your eligible MasterCard card, you may be covered for up to $50,000 without excess.


    MasterCard: Many MasterCards stopped providing free CDW insurance in 2006 . However, there are some MasterCards that still cover your CDW insurance in Ireland. Certain World MasterCards cover the insurance. My Capital One Platinum No Hassle Miles Ultra business card still covers CDW for up to 31 days.

  • pauletteb

    You lost me the second I read “flyertalk.”

  • Michael__K

    I replied to your post and included a link to a sample Mastercard that has no restrictions in the Republic of Ireland and with links to three Irish websites that corroborate the fact that some Mastercards cover rental insurance in the Republic of Ireland.

    However, my reply has yet to appear. In the original window I posted from it says: “This comment is awaiting moderation.” (Is the problem too many links?)

  • TonyA_says

    If you want to get REALLY LOST, read one of the articles there about Fuel Dumping. They are speaking in tongues.

    There are actually services out there where you have have your fare hacked.

  • john4868

    @Michael__K:disqus It was tagged as Spam… FIxed now

  • pauletteb

    But doesn’t Chris say that based on Budget’s response they DID honor the quote for the rental? Basically all the additional charges were for insurance and an extra driver she didn’t account for originally. I hope those posters who admit they lie about second drivers, crossing borders, and such to save money end up paying for their falsehoods. The money people like them end up costing companies gets passed on to us more honest folk.

  • Michael__K

    Why would you assume that the OP’s lodging and destination(s) were accessible by public transportation?

  • TonyA_says

    WORLD Mastercard. Similar, or worse, issue in Israel.

    I think Elliott should take a pass on rental car problems in Ireland and Israel. These are 2 countries where you should rent at your own risk.

  • LFH0

    My comments were general, but nonetheless, substantial parts of Ireland are accessible by public transportation, be it bus, train, or taxi (indeed, it would be a tragedy if the world were “closed” to people who do not drive cars themselves). My experience, however, is that many people simply dismiss using public transportation as being below their status and therefore unacceptable. But when that happens, and people become car-dependent, they lose the bargaining leverage which accrues only when one has choices.

  • Michael__K

    And substantial parts are not practically accessible (especially for people with lots of luggage). And spending big bucks on taxis (2 modest length trips could easily cost more than rental charges for an entire day) isn’t what I would call leverage.

    I like (and use) public transportation as much as anyone but it makes no sense to inject pet peeves about public transportation into the OP’s situation.

  • Michael__K

    On what planet does someone get the idea that a business can offer a guaranteed reservation (i.e. a contract) and then pretend it simply doesn’t exist and compel the customer to choose under duress between signing for additional charges or refusing them a guaranteed service?

    I’m pretty sure that’s not legal (either in Ireland or practically anywhere else).

  • LFH0

    In our travels, we use public transportation for the long distances, and then if impracticable to use a local bus to get to the final destination (e.g., too much luggage to haul), we’ll use a taxi for the last leg between the station and the hotel. Where it is a greater challenge is when the destination is not a well-populated place, and in those cases you’re absolutely right . . . the taxi fares can become rather steep. (Indeed, in the United States visiting some of the most well-known national parks can be extraordinarily difficult because there are few transportation options serving these low-population areas, notwithstanding tremendous transient travel.) There’s many more choices when one is destined for well-populated places, and accordingly, these travelers have the most bargaining leverage.

    I don’t know the specifics of the OP’s plans, and the practicalities of other travel with respect to those plans. If the OP had the ability to simply walk away, by threatening to do so, the OP might have been able to get the car rental agent to change his or her tactics. But I know from my personal experience that some people (not everyone) do harbor prejudices, and therefore the fear of being called on that threat to walk away may prevent them from using the tactic against the rental car agency.

  • Joe Farrell

    Classic bait and switch by the locals who know you have no choice. . .

    Did she have a reservation? Or just a booking number from some online booking agent / consolidator?

    Again, we should not have to know these details – but you should Chris – but if she made the reservation in the United States – then she has a claim with the company who made the booking for her. This isn’t brain surgery.

    Even if the online booking agent [not travel agent here] is wrong, then, well, you relied upon their expertise.

  • SoBeSparky

    People read all sorts of things into Chris’ narrative. No where were there terms “guaranteed reservation.”

    The mediation problem read: “Murphy had a price quote from Budget through its U.S. website that included taxes and insurance: 10 days for 230 pounds for a Skoda Octavia ‘or similar.’ ”

    Further, where did the above poster come up with this “duress” argument? She is at the airport, for pete’s sake, with a lineup of rental counters. To solve this “duress,” walk ten paces and ask for a quote. Simple as that.

    Posters here tend to create situations which were never in the original column.

  • Michael__K

    People read all sorts of things out of Chris’ narrative when it doesn’t fit their preferred personal narrative.

    Murphy appears to have had the MasterCard coverage for her insurance, and a printout of her reservation that specifically said insurance was also included in her rental.

    If the local Budget office didn’t honor the price, she could have phoned the number on her reservation

    Yes, reservation printouts usually include price quotes. And a reservation through Budget’s U.S. website would have been guaranteed.

  • john4868

    Chris quick question…. How long was her rental?

    If it was around 7 days, $471 could be correct…

    $471 works out to be about £294 (1.6 effective exchange rate given that it was a CC)

    According to the local budget office website (http://www.budgetbelfast.co.uk/niterms.php) terms

    £23 for the rental for cross border

    Per day

    £9 for the extra driver (7+20% VAT)
    £30 for the insurance excess waiver (25 +20% VAT) (I’m guessing on which vehicle class she rented.

    By my math… 7 day would account for the additional charges

    Note: The included CDW has a high deductible. Their T&Cs allows them to charge and hold that deductible (excess in their terminology) if you decline the excess waiver until you return the vehicle. If she took the waiver, it all make sense….

  • SoBeSparky

    And the word “guaranteed” materialized in whose mind? That is a strong term, and used sparingly anymore by businesses. When it is used, it has an explicit interpretation written on the piece of the document so there are no misunderstandings. That usually entails an immediate way to exercise the “guarantee,” such as a phone number or other immediate contact method. I never infer a guarantee on any reservation unless the actual word is used. A “guaranteed reservation” involves giving the vendor your credit card number in advance for payment in case you are a “no-show.” Many of Chris’ mediation columns have been about hotels making people “walk” when “guaranteed” reservations seem to be not-so-guaranteed.

    Two many forks in the road here, and at every one Ms. Murphy took the wrong turn.

    Of course, she actually paid per the original rates (guaranteed or not), according to Budget. It’s just that she opted for cross-border which voided any MasterCard coverage and required her to buy Budget’s insurance. If that is what she signed, with several other competitive options within a few yards, then so be it.

    Consumer protection relies on the consumer to exercise good old common sense. We do not know the demeanor of Ms. Murphy and the Budget counter people or the exact conversation. We do know the unaltered fact that she signed something she felt she would just change later.

    As for the price quote being a guaranteed reservation amounting to a contract, I will defer to lawyers. I think not, however. Contracts take up several pages of very fine print, after the major terms of price and duration in larger print on the cover. No “guaranteed reservation” is like that.

    If you sign this rental contract and drive out of the airport with the rented car, then it seems the contract would be binding. Period.

  • Michael__K

    Pardon me, the precise word Budget.com uses is “confirmed.” And it provides a “confirmation number.”

    Yes, that is a strong term too and it has to be — what is the point of reservations if businesses are free to renege on them at their whim?

    You assert that crossing the North/South Irish border voids any MasterCard coverage even though Mastercard’s terms say no such thing and Budget’s terms say no such thing and numerous other websites that cover questions about renting in Ireland and relying on Mastercard coverage say no such thing.

    Do you have any evidence for your assertions other than blind faith in Budget?

  • Michael__K

    The article states it was supposed to be 10 days for 230 pounds.

    And per the terms posted on Budget.com which I already quoted (and you replied to that post) the cross border fee is 20 GBP per rental

  • MarkKelling

    The 30 GBP for the insurance excess waiver (basically covers the deductible on the CDW) is per day which does add up quickly. I agree that the waiver is optional and separate from the insurance and the cross border charge and the extra driver fee. This is where I think the agent may have pulled a fast one and added this in. But since the deductable is between 800 and 900 GBP, the waiver may not be that bad of an idea.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    I was with you up until you started arguing that “confirmed” and “guaranteed” were totally different things. Now it looks like you’re just arguing to argue. If you want to leave it up to the lawyers, why wouldn’t you just assume that synonyms do, in fact, mean substantially the same thing?

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Nah. Even the lawyers aren’t bold enough to argue that confirmed and guaranteed are different. ;)

  • Michael__K

    The Mastercard policies that work in Ireland would cover the deductible.

    If you or an authorized driver’s primary auto insurance or other coverage has made payments for a covered loss, we will cover your deductible and any other eligible amounts, described in Section B, not covered by the other insurance

    The main limitation with the Mastercard coverage is that benefits are capped at $50K USD. The Excess Waiver provides absolutely no benefit to someone with the Mastercard coverage.

    Oh, and 30GBP is almost certainly the wrong Excess Waiver amount anyway. That’s the rate for the most premium vehicles. A Skoda Octavia is an intermediate class option — I’m seeing 5 classes of vehicles below that level and 6 classes of vehicles that are more premium.

  • TonyA_says

    I agree with your statement – the MasterCard [issue] is more smoke.

    To me this is a non-issue. Here is why.

    Budget No. Ireland car rental quotes (prices) include CDW.
    Good luck finding one without inclusive CDW.
    Even the OP says her quote included CDW.

    So really her Mastercard wouldn’t do anything for her unless she can get that specific Budget location to adjust the rental price and remove CDW. IMO, not gonna happen.

    So what were the extra charges all about?

    I looked up the location’s contract in GDS and I think they possibly are:



    GBP 15.00/DAY CHARGE


    Finally, if I did not understand my bill or invoice, I’d ask them to explain it to me right there on the rental office counter. They speak English in No. Ireland, don’t they?

  • JenniferFinger

    Regardless, Budget apparently didn’t explain that well to the OP when she went to pick up the car.

  • alkonost45

    When you rent a car in Northern Ireland using a US credit card, that card does not cover driving in the Republic of Ireland, period. No US card covers rental insurance in Republic of Ireland, not even American Express.

  • EdB

    There has been a lot of comments about how Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are two separate countries and how the insurance coverage is different. Links showing costs for the coverage and extra drivers. Breakdowns of how the extra costs were calculated. But there is one question I have not seen answered…

    If the extra insurance and driver costs were not needed on the original reservation, why were they needed on the new one?

    I understand about the insurance between the two countries and the costs for an extra driver. But where in the story did the OP tell the agent they were going to have an extra driver or travel order the border? Maybe she did tell the agent that was her plan. Maybe not and the agent just automatically, and maybe incorrectly, added the coverage. I won’t excuse the OP for not checking the reservation and all the items on it, but then I won’t give a free pass to the Budget agent either if they added these things when they were not needed.

  • Michael__K

    Wrong. This card (for example) does cover it. Period.


  • Michael__K

    All the fees you quote from GDS combined will not add up to $471 (~300GBP) for a 10-day rental.

    And those fees are completely at odds with what the terms on budget.com and budget.co.uk say. If the OP booked via budget.com, then the terms and conditions posted on budget.com should govern.

    if I did not understand my bill or invoice, I’d ask them to explain it to me right there on the rental office counter.

    What makes you think she didn’t?

    The OP’s story appears to be that the folks at the rental counter told her that (a) they didn’t have her reservation and that (b) the mandatory rate was simply $471 higher than what her reservation said.

    Maybe she misunderstood or maybe the rental people misunderstood her or maybe the rental people were dealing in bad faith. Regardless, there was clearly a conversation about the rate.

  • TonyA_says

    We signed a NEW agreement.
    There you go. Was there a gun pointed at her head in Belfast? Doubt it.
    Did the No. Ireland Budget Office where she rented a car have an “OLD” signed agreement with her earlier. Doubt it.
    So say what ever you want to say. But if you sign an agreement they you are legally bound to pay whatever that agreement says. If the credit card company does not back you with a chargeback because it does not believe you can dispute the charges. too bad for you. That’s life.
    If you do not understand the agreement, don’t sign it.

  • Michael__K

    There was already an agreement. If you believe agreements are ironclad, then why is it okay for the vendor to back out of their confirmed agreement?

    A gun pointed to her head? Maybe lots of luggage and jet lag and a need to get to her destination and a conviction that she was in the right and a trust that if people were dealing in good faith her billing error would be solved the next day.

  • EdB

    No one have an answer for this? Seems this is the real issue in the story and is not being addressed.

  • TonyA_says

    What signed agreement did she have with the Budget Car Station in Belfast? I do travel reservations for a living and I would really like to know how you think we can enforce a reservation that is not yet paid (no money exchanged hands) in a foreign country.

  • Michael__K

    She would have had a “confirmed” reservation with a confirmation number. Are you contending that it’s legal for businesses to issue confirmed reservations and then renege on them (and deny they exist)? What’s even the point of confirmed reservations then?

    I don’t know Irish law (do you?) but I’ve seen the legally mandated notices of renters rights that are posted in some U.S. jurisdictions and which spell out statutory fines that companies face when a reservation is not honored.

  • directions

    Most intelligent people research these things before they leave besides in Ireland you should have their super insurance especially if you’re from a country that drives on the other side of the road, The roads there are small, very little if any shoulder, it’s a challenge, could cost you a lot if you dented or scratched the car..

  • TonyA_says

    My feeling here is that you always get screwed easily in a foreign country.
    In Reality, I cannot expect them to have the same ethical standards that I am accustomed to seeing here.

    The list of car renters who get screwed in Ireland and Israel must be very long. That’s why I just tell people to expect to be screwed and their are very lucky if they don’t.

  • Michael__K

    Maybe so, but that’s not a reason for the OP or Chris or us to accept that.

    And note that in this case, Budget is a U.S.-headquartered company and the OP booked through their U.S. website. So the buck ultimately stops in Parsippany, New Jersey.

  • TonyA_says

    Michael, the rental weekly and additional rates look correct.
    These are the only things you see in your reservation.

    The website does not allow you to order or contract cross-border travel, additional drivers, etc. In other words, when you book a car with them, the only thing you can maybe rely on is the basic rental rate and things already included in that rate. The rest is up in the air :)

    These additional services are “negotiated” when you sign your rental contract at the location.

    So just to be clear the misunderstanding here is not about rental rates.

    It is about additional fees.

    IMO, additional fees is where you will get royally screwed because you cannot prove the company committed to them beforehand.

    You know that the additional fees in GDS for budget No. Ireland is different from the one in their website http://www.budget.ie/terms.php?PickUpGroupID=ni.
    Maybe the fees posted in the office are also different than those in the website and GDS. Who knows?

  • Michael__K

    Yes, Budget’s side of the story, as presented by Chris, is that they honored her reservation but that her confirmed rate didn’t include $471 in additional fees (almost entirely insurance).

    One of the problems with that story is that I don’t see a plausible scenario that comes close to $471 in additional fees. Not based on the GDS-documented fees you posted; and much less so based on the budget.com documented fees — which state that the cross-border fee is per rental, not per day.

    Sure, maybe the fees posted in the office are completely different too. In that case, they either need to honor the fees posted on budget.com where the reservation was made or stop claiming that they honored the reservation.

  • PhilLC

    insurance is a ‘scam’ that rental companies love to squeeze more money out of clients; I picked up a car in Dublin recently – they had no additional charges for ‘cross-border’ but although I thought I had paid for an ‘all-in’ rate at the counter they tried to scare me into paying all kinds of more money till I threatened to cancel and just go to the next counter. A ‘small print’ item that i had apparently overlooked was the requirement to bring the car empty of fuel but they charged over €100 for a full tank at the beginning. The Renault Megane diesel that we rented for 5 days, and we did long drives all the was to the north coast and back was so economical that we barely used half a tank which we refilled at about €45; if I had not insisted on them removing that clause I would have been €55 the poorer and they would have netted that additional cash – pure scam! (Dooley Car Rentals who also represent some of the known cheaper US companies)

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Did I misread? You were charged for filling up the tank?

  • http://vanhire.ie/ VanHire.ie

    leave off the “add a 2nd driver” fee. As for the “cross-border coverage” i believe Budget did what is said.–if you admit you plan on taking the car out of the legal area then they will charge you.