Paul Gosling's column "Questions Of Cash". I always take a look at this ever since he intervened a few years ago when my son was travelling and had his credit card stolen. He was put to a great deal of expenditure phoning the credit card company from South America and was compensated after Paul Gosling got involved.
This week I see that a subject I am very interested in has been raised again. Car hire companies in Ireland charging excess insurance when it has been declined.
The Reader's Question: My partner and I had to travel to Ireland urgently in April after my partner's 25-year-old nephew died tragically. We booked flights on easyJet and hired a car with Hertz, both via the internet. The cost for the car hire was £150.56, barring any extras. At Belfast International Airport we collected the car. When my partner was asked about extra insurance and another named driver, he declined both, as he always does. He remembers explaining to the Hertz representative why we were in Ireland and that we would only use the car to get to his home town for the funeral. She was very understanding and expressed sympathy. He signed Hertz's copy of the hire ticket and away we went.
But when we returned home and the credit card bill arrived, it contained extra Hertz charges. I then studied the hire ticket and deciphered the abbreviations. There were a lot of figures on it that did not make sense. I found that two of the amounts were for the extra insurance that had been specifically declined. These added £132.54 to the bill, bringing the total to £283.10 for an economy two-door car hired from 25 to 30 April. I contacted Hertz, but it confirmed the charges and refused to make a refund. LS, by email.
Paul Gosling's reply:
A spokeswoman for Hertz apologises for the extra charges, which were included unintentionally. She explains: "Upon checking we have discovered that the charges were made in error and are processing a full refund and writing a letter of apology to the customer. We very much regret that [the reader's partner] was accidentally charged for the extras due to human error, and then not spotting that error when [the reader] first wrote to us.
Upon receipt of her first letter, we went back to the signed paperwork, rather than checking with the location direct, which we should have done. Since her second letter [via Questions of Cash] we have checked with the location and can indeed confirm the completely unintentional error. We deeply regret the stress and upset that this has caused, particularly at such a terribly tragic time for them. By way of apology, we will also issue [the reader's partner] with a gift voucher worth $100 which can be used at any Hertz location."
It is great to see a most satisfactory conclusion.
For many years my wife and I have rented cars in Ireland. Last year my wife hired a car in Dublin on a couple of occasions from the Europcar Ireland franchise Irish Car Rentals. The first time they tried adding on a crossing charge for the M50 toll and it was proved by the toll authorities (eflow) that the vehicle had never crossed the toll on the day in question and the car had never been in the area of the toll during the hire. The Europcar Ireland's representative initial email response was to say she must have used it to get to her destination from Dublin Airport. This would have meant adding around 20kms onto the journey for a 10km trip she had been driving for the last 30 years!
On the second occasion she, as normal declined their excess charge insurance they were trying to make her buy as she told them she had an annual policy from insurance4carhire.com and we discovered on our credit card bill that they had charged €54.48 representing 4 days additional insurance and tax on it.
We went back to them with numerous emails, but they would not give a refund. They said "She had signed for it" even though she told the representative she was declining it. The car was a rather batterred Chevrolet and the radio had been removed.
After that very bad experience, we decided never to use this company ever again and since then have rented via Carrentals.co.uk have been using Hertz. The cars are good, they are parked close to the terminal (not a bus journey away at Santry)and staff very helpful.
I regret now not contacting Paul Gosling at The Independent's Question of Cash about the problem.
If you have had similar problems you reply on this blog.