An extra $55 for taxes on my pre-paid car rental? Seriously?

Question: We booked a ten-day vacation package in Cancun, Mexico through that included air, hotel and a rental car. Taxes were included in the price of the rental car.

When we arrived at the Hertz rental counter, we were told there was an additional tax of about $55. I paid the additional tax at checkout, expecting to be reimbursed from

I’ve written two emails to, but both have gone unanswered. When I called the company, a representative told me the $55 charge was a “deposit” that would be returned to me. But a call to Hertz confirmed it was a tax and no refund was due.

I have booked 12 to 15 rooms through, had good service and would consider myself a good customer. That is why I can’t understand why they would ignore my email and lie to me over the phone. There is not a lot of money at stake here, but I would at least like to receive a reply as to why I am not being reimbursed. — Wayne Enquist, Fergus Falls, Minn.

Answer: If said taxes on your rental car were included, then they should have been included, of course. You sent me a copy of your confirmation, and sure enough – they were.

When your itinerary doesn’t match reality, one of your options is taking the matter up with your online agency when you return. But it isn’t your only choice, nor should it be your first one.

When Hertz asked you to fork over another $55, you should have phoned At the very least they could have made a notation in your record, so that when you followed up after returning to the States, they’d know about the problem.
But ideally, someone at could have made a quick call to Hertz and sorted this out before you returned the rental car. Remember, you probably had 10 days before the $55 charge was applied to your credit card – that’s plenty of time to get this sorted out.

Sending a brief, polite email to once you returned was a good idea, and I have no idea why it didn’t respond. Normally, when you send an email through its website, companies like send an automatic response and assign your query a tracking number. If you don’t receive either, then it’s a safe assumption that the company didn’t receive your email.

I’m not surprised by the subsequent phone problems. For what it’s worth, I don’t think the representative was lying to you. He probably had no idea what the $55 was for, or was confused. But the bottom line is, the $55 was yours.

If continued ignoring you, I think you might have taken up this case with your credit card. A competent bank would have found a good reason to reverse the charge.

I contacted on your behalf, and it refunded the taxes and fees that should have been included in the price of your vacation.

Who should have fixed this overcharge?

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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 Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • TonyA_says

    Typical PREPAID car rental nightmare. You think you prepaid (Expedia) the taxes but Hertz claims they (the merchant) did not pay them the taxes. What now? You pay twice :-)
    Tip: Avoid Prepaid from a third party. If you must prepay, call or email the car rental company and ask them to confirm the prepay and check if there is anything else you need to pay before you get there.

  • sdir

    A “competent bank” would’ve found reason to reverse the charge? While I don’t think the LW should’ve been charged additional taxes, he did agree to pay them and he likely signed a payment slip to that effect.

  • NakinaAce

    I don’t understand why you keep telling people that they should phone the agency at the time. You are standing at a rental counter, just having got off an airplane and are probably tired and just want to get on. I have tred calling some of these online agencies (expedia, cheapoair, etc) and it is beyond stupid to expect to get anything at all done within a reasonable time frame – assuming you can reach them at all. So, please do me a favor and stop telling people that they should have called on the spot – it is impractical and in a lot of cases impossible.

  • EdB

    The documentation the OP had showed the car was suppose to be completely paid for. A “competent bank” would see the OP was charged for something they already paid for and reverse the charge, regardless of if the OP had signed a payment slip.

  • MarkKelling

    There is no mention that the OP contacted his bank to dispute the charge. Maybe the bank would have refunded the charge, maybe not, but we don’t know how “competent” the bank is because this route was never taken. Hertz could have also told the bank when they investigated that the extra charge was for something else like an upgrade or satellite radio or whatever, not just taxes, and the “competent” bank may still have sided with the merchant.

    Asking your credit card bank to credit you back for any charge should only be done as a last resort. Not saying you should allow unauthorized or fraudulent charges to go through and simply pay them, but when you have signed the charge form, the bank will see it as legitimate unless you have iron clad proof otherwise. The merchant (Hertz in this case) can simply send the bill to a collection agency if the bank reverses the charge leading to all kinds of issues for you. Also your bank keeps track of your disputes and if you do them too many times, when you really need them to step up for you they may not — it’s the boy-who-cried-wolf issue.

    Glad stepped up and did the right thing. Too bad it took prodding by Chris for them to do so. But I don’t see what benefit using this company provided the OP for the car rental unless the rental was at no additional cost included in the package.

  • MeanMeosh

    Agreed, and I’d take it a step further. Trying to make a phone call from a cell phone in a foreign country, especially to an online agency where you are likely to encounter long hold times and passing back and forth between the agency and the travel suppler, is likely going to run up some sizeable charges. If they had called from the rental counter in Mexico, I’m willing to bet they would have run up a bill higher than the $55 they were entitled to!

  • BillCCC

    And your solution is to do what? It appears that you are suggesting that customers should just pay what ever extra is asked of them and continue on with your trip. Who should they call if not the company that they rented through? When should they dispute extra charges before or after they paid?

  • LonelyTraveler sells prepaid cars? Where? I don’t think I have ever seen this option ever, always thought it was a Hotels-only site.

  • Afghantraveler

    All these bad stories about Hertz…I’ll avoid them from now on. I took a trip with a friend recently and she forgot to top off the tank and Herz charged over $9 a gallon to refuel. Alamo would have charged around $5.50 a gallon. The Hertz car had over 37,00 miles on it, and this was a corporate location (IAD).

    Te funny part is that for an upcoming trip, Hertz is $30 more per day than Enterprise. For that price, I could book the cheaper deal and add the CDW and still come out ahead. Hertz sucks.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    One of the last times I rented a car, I did so through Hotwire. We were delayed coming in (airline delays) and wanted to reach Hertz. Hertz had me on hold for 45 minutes, then told me I had to call Hotwire and tell *them* to call Hertz to tell them I was going to be late picking up the car. Dutifully did so – another 45 minutes on the phone. So – 1 1/2 hours and a drained cell phone battery later – I’d notified everyone I was supposed to notify. When we got to our destination, we had to wait an hour while the one and only rental agent on duty came back from lunch. All the other counters were closed, so we ended up waiting. No one had called to tell the agent of our delay.

    So, 2 1/2 hours of my time completely wasted. Completely stressed out. Next time I rented, I didn’t bother with the “great savings” I’d achieved with Hotwire, but went directly to the rental agency.

    I agree fully with Mr. Smith that it is beyond stupid to expect to get anything done at all with an online agency within a reasonable time frame, although I wouldn’t have phrased it quite that way.

  • Carchar

    If you rent from Enterprise, please be extra diligent about taking pictures of your rental before driving it off the lot and upon return.

  • MarkKelling

    There have been a lot more stories about how bad Enterprise does things than Hertz on this web site. I guess individual experience varies, but I have always had better luck with Hertz than other rental companies. Renting an average of 30 times per year might have something to do with getting treated better. But I also follow the rules, no matter how much I feel they don’t make sense, like filling the car up near the airport and having the receipt when asked for it.

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    it’s probably a mistake on website (someone probably forgot to tick a box) & so seemed cheaper than everyone else.
    Airlines often make mistakes when entering fares. They might leave out a zero or 2 or a decimal point.

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    some airlines are not putting in their conditions, that if fuel prices rise a certain amount, they can & will ask you for a fuel surcharge, after you’ve paid. This will probably be required to be paid at check in.
    Not good PR, but if it makes the difference between going broke & staying “alive” well you can’t blame them.
    Most are working off tiny margins.
    With North Korean situation at present, fuel is probably going to spike in price right now.

  • bodega3

    Once you are ticketed you are protected against any fare increase, surcharge, but not certain governmental taxes. Cruise lines put a fuel surcharge ruling in their terms and conditions and on your invoice.

  • bodega3

    I sell prepaid rental car reservations more than I sell stand alone car rental reservations. For Hawaii, as an example, most packages that include a rental car have all taxes, surcharges and road fees included. However, there are a few TO’s that don’t collect certain taxes or the road fees, but this is stated before you make a deposit. AutoEurope also collects most taxes, but in many locales, certain taxes are collected by the rental car company and this is stated on their invoices. I have NEVER had any client get a surprise charge.

    As for call the company you booked through, this is why I vet my vendors and all clients are provided with a toll free number to call, domestically or internationally, if they encounter an issue. If you find calling an OTA a PITA when there is a problem, then DON’T continue to book with them. There are thousands of companies out there that you can book with, but not all are there for you when things go wrong. Those who book solely on price and use a OTA, have only themselves to complain to!

  • Tyrhone Tubbs

    We rented a car in Mexico from a smaller place, and despite all the warnings about getting ripped off, they were freindly, helpful and told us all the charges up front. Even when we brought the car back filthy there were no extra charges!

  • TonyA_says

    Solution is to book directly or through an agency GDS only and not with 3rd party merchants. Usually the savings offered by 3rd party merchants (if any) is not worth the hassle. One of the biggest issues is the reservation is usually not in your name and all you have is a prepaid voucher. What a way to spoil a vacation.

  • Prabir

    I had a similar experience in Cancun a few months ago. I booked a car through Avis online and was quote a price in USD. Upon reaching Cancun, I went to the Avis rental lot. The agent showed me the contract and asked me to sign it. The price on the contract was in pesos. I don’t know why, perhaps intuition, I took out my currency conversion app on my phone and it showed that the price on the contract was approximately $50 over the price I had on my reservation. When I brought it up to the agent, he said it was for taxes. However, my reservation included taxes and fees. I stood my ground and the agent eventually called his manager who was able to adjust amounts. But it shows how alert consumers have to be when they rent cars.

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    depends what country you are in. U.S. rules don’t apply outside U.s.

  • bodega3

    IATA rules apply and once a ticket is issued, you are protected. If I issue a ticket, for any flight in the world via my GDS, my client is protected, with the exception of a governmental tax should one be implemented. This has nothing to do with US rules.

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    IATA ?
    What a joke. Most LCC’s will have nothing to do with IATA.

  • emanon256

    I have had this happen with prepaid hotels which is why I no longer pre-pay ever. I had to pay double taxes on a hotwire hotel ones and an expedia hotel. I no longer use any of these travel vending machines. I also had a bad experience with I booked a refundable room, had to cancel, and they charged me a $50 cancellation fee which I never found in my terms and conditions. I am glad Chris was able to help.

  • Joe Farrell

    Heck, just rented in Boston. Fee for the car for one day? $12.71 prepaid. Taxes, fees, expense recoveries, energy taxes and surcharges and convention tax? $28.62. Over 200% of the car,

  • Garry Margolis

    Some years ago, I reserved a Hertz rental car in advance for a vacation trip in Israel using AAdvantage miles. When I arrived at the counter, I discovered:

    * The car type I’d booked was defined differently. I was offered a smaller car than I’d reserved (I’m tall and this is important to me); I had to go up one type to get one in which I could fit. I had to pay the difference in cost.

    * I used my Diners Club card, which provides primary insurance coverage, so I tried to decline their insurance. I was told that insurance was mandatory. I said they could call Diners and confirm that I was covered. They said I’d have to wait for an hour for their office to confirm this. I waited — their insurance was expensive.

    * They finally confirmed I was covered, and deleted the insurance charge. They then added a new fee to cover the fact that I didn’t pay them for their insurance! At that point, all I could do was laugh and pay it.

    This was before e-mail was common, so I sent a letter to Hertz corporate on my return, with documentation, and received an apology and a refund of all extra charges. Hertz told me that Hertz in Israel was a franchisee. Perhaps the Cancun operation is also a franchise operation.

  • libertyinn

    rental car companies have been known to scam people and you always have to be careful!