A surprise $600 bill for my Mexico car rental

LDProd/Shutterstock
LDProd/Shutterstock
Arjun Aiyer receives a surprise bill for an extra $600 after renting a car in Mexico. The company alleges the vehicle was damaged while Aiyer was driving it. But where’s the proof?

Question: We recently rented a car from Thrifty for a week at Cancun airport. We were quoted a rate of $136. The estimate at pick-up time, with mandatory accident insurance and one additional driver, was $371 for the week, which I accepted and signed.

One or two days later, while driving on the highway, the car overheated and stalled. Obviously, they had given us a car with very low radiator coolant. We called Thrifty road service and asked for a replacement car, which they delivered about three hours later, ruining our afternoon excursion.
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The Travel Troubleshooter: Help, my Amtrak tickets were accidentally canceled

Question: I’ve been trying to resolve a problem with Amtrak, and have spent hours on “hold.” I need your help.

I recently purchased Amtrak tickets to Reno, Nev., on my American Express card. I paid $156 for the roundtrip ticket and in return, I received 11,000 rewards points, which allowed me to buy another roundtrip ticket.

There was a misunderstanding when I booked the second ticket, and my first ticket was somehow canceled.

I didn’t find out about the cancellation until I went to the train station in Emeryville to get my tickets. An Amtrak agent said I would have to spend another $236 for a ticket.

Since then, I’ve spent countless hours on the phone, including a three-way call between Amex, Amtrak and myself, to try to get this sorted out. They’ve asked me to mail proof of payment and proof that I’ve taken the trip, which I have done.

I just received a message from Amtrak that they will not refund the ticket. I have disputed the charge with American Express. Now what? — Mel Jung, San Rafael, Calif.

Answer: When the erroneous cancellation was discovered, Amtrak should have found a way to reinstate them at the same price. That would have fixed the problem and prevented you from having to spend half an eternity on the phone to chase down a refund (your time is more valuable than that).
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Do green airlines send their customers boxes of Styrofoam?

Doug Marshak wants to know. The airline in this case is Delta, which mailed him a box of … well, I’ll get to all that in a second.

But before I do, let it be noted that Delta and other airlines want us to think of them as good corporate citizens. As my colleague Harriet Baskas pointed out in a recent story,

Delta Air Lines, which also has an in-flight recycling program, is currently the only airline recycling airplane carpet through Mohawk Group’s ReCover program, which turns old carpets into new carpets and other products.

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“I do not know where else to turn”

If you’re a frequent flier, maybe you covet a Delta Reserve American Express Card. It offers access to Delta’s Crown Rooms, a first-class companion certificate and a generous 10,000-mile bonus when you sign up.

Vincent Petty did. So he signed up for one. But when American Express or Delta — it’s not clear which one — failed to credit him with the promised points, he set off on an odyssey that led him nowhere closer to getting the miles he’d been offered.

Can a card company simply refuse to give you what it advertised?
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Worst. Honeymoon. Ever.

sandalsAdam Salamon’s honeymoon did not go well.

His all-inclusive resort wasn’t what he expected. The food was lousy, the staff was rude, there were bed bugs and his travel agent didn’t care, he claims.

Although the companies involved in this vacation debacle offered some compensation, it wasn’t enough for Salamon. He wanted a full refund, and he wanted me to help him get it.

Here are the unpleasant details. (A warning to those of you who are squeamish: his account is somewhat graphic.)
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“American Express has lost its mind”

creditOn Oct. 1, the annual percentage rate on Mike Golden’s American Express Platinum card will jump by about 25 percent.

Yes, 25 percent. That’s no typo.

Since American Express has always billed itself as the traveler’s best friend (“Don’t leave home without it”) I thought this would be of interest to other readers. The Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act, the new law meant to protect credit card customers from surprise fees that goes into effect next year, is supposed to protect cardholders from these kind of rate changes. Did Amex send out the wrong notices?
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