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Be Careful Renting Cars in Europe - Standards and Compentency is way different

Jan David

Be careful renting cars in Europe.

We recently rented a car from Hertz in France. We got the car at the end of our cruise trip down the somme river. We ended up in Nice, decided to extend a few days so we got a car and drove to Recco, Italy.

It was a pleasant trip- down the riviera. Absolutely beautiful and rather uneventful. We had rented an airbnb place down in Recco and the best part about that was there were virtually no tourists there. In fact i think there were actually none. The home we were in was absolutely spectacular. Overlooking the Ligurian sea just south of Genoa. Matteo, the owner and his wife inherited the home from Matteo's dad, who built it in 1955 just after World War Two. The home was large and you could see the sea from every window. A few steps outside the front gate was a staircase which led down to a rocky beach. In european style there also was a little bar/restaurant down on this little beach. If you walked up away from the cliff the beach led off to the rest of the town and the little harbor. It was like a little magical paradise. Needless to say, we didn't go anywhere with the car we rented. The car sat there for the whole four days we were there. Idyllic.
recco italy

This is Recco./  All the way down at the end where you see the sea wall is where our little beach was and the house just above the wall is where we stayed!  Needless to day what was awaiting us back in Nice at the airport wasn't as "nice" as this!  

Finally we drove back to Nice and stayed the night in a hotel in downtown before heading to the airport the next day to return the car.

First, when I received the vehicle in Nice, France, I was handed keys and told to walk to a parking lot a block and a half away to get the vehicle. No one from Hertz accompanied me. There was never any walk-around or agreement about the state of the vehicle. I assumed the vehicle was in perfect condition as it looked new. I never initialed or signed or agreed to the condition of the car when I received it. Therefore I am not liable for this absurd claim that I returned the car with minor damage.

Much to our surprise, when we turned in the vehicle in Nice, at the airport, the attendant pointed out an apparent scratch on the bumper. I explained to her that we never parked the car publicly. Nor did we hit anything, so it was impossible that this damage was done by us. She alluded to the walk around, which I told her never happened.

Meanwhile, my wife inspected the supposed damage and noticed that it was just a dirty scuff mark and wiped it off with a tissue and some effort. There wasn't even a scratch on the car. We showed this to the attendant.
Her response was: "I am only a contractor. I don't actually work for Hertz. I have my instructions and I cannot change the damage report since I already wrote it."
I tried to reason with her explaining that there was no actual damage and she just shrugged her shoulders. I then walked inside to the Hertz rental counter and explained the situation. I showed them the rental receipt. I asked if there was anything they could do. The manager said that when they assess the report and look at the car, they will see that there is no damage and it will be dismissed.

So I was quite surprised and angered to find this notice in my mailbox. It said we owe 263 euros for the damage. I can only infer from the parade of incompetence I encountered in the Hertz employees over there, that what happened was-- the alleged damage was not actually looked at physically. The car was likely put right back into circulation and the damage notice send as a matter of course, using only the paperwork. This was my initial concern.

I understand that things are different outside the United States, but this is ridiculous. The level of incompetence I have experienced with Hertz in Europe is mind boggling.

It's not even the supposed charges that upset me the most. It is the interruption to my life and business. It is a complete waste of time to have to defend myself like this. That I have to contest this, in the face of a complete lack of organization and total incompetence, is maddening.

I started by describing our perfect vacation because I wanted to show the contrast. Heading home was a bit less pleasant than the trip itself.

Be really careful renting cars in Europe.  It's not like in the united states.  The tiniest blemish they will attempt to record as damage.  It's absurd.  


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1 comment

  • Wow. I had heard that rentals in europe were a little tougher but that sounds like a nightmare! Hope it all worked out okay.


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