The options offered by rental car companies, forth with claimed allowance policies, biking allowance provisions, and acclaim agenda advantage can addle travelers.(Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
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Question: In September, I busy a car through Sixt at the Brussels airport. The abettor insisted that we acquirement allowance alike admitting my Capital One Visa Signature acclaim agenda provided it, adage that I bare to buy advantage through Sixt because there are frequently problems with allowance through U.S. acclaim agenda companies. Reluctantly, I agreed to booty collision/damage allowance at 90 euro for the week. I was never brash of any obligations, or added accuse that would or could be assessed.
As I was abiding the car at the airport a anniversary later, I aching a bouncer abuse and aching the bumper. Sixt accurate the damage. About a anniversary later, I accustomed a final balance from Sixt which acclaimed the purchased allowance and total, and I brash the bulk closed.
Two months later, Sixt answerable my agenda 600 euros (about $810) and beatific a letter advertence that it was charging me for accident to the rental car. I acknowledged the allegation with Capital One and supplied affidavit that I bought the collision/damage insurance. The acclaim agenda aggregation brash that Sixt would acquire 45 canicule to respond. I was after told that Sixt never responded to my altercation so the case was closed, and the 600 euro allegation was reversed.
In February, I accustomed a apprehension from a German accumulating agency, ambitious acquittal of 753 euros owed to Sixt — 600 added 153 euros in added fees and penalties. I responded via e-mail and brash that we purchased insurance, so we should not be answerable anything.
The cancellation I accustomed in Brussels indicates a 600 euro loss/damage waiver; however, back I purchased collision/damage allowance that allegation does not apply. A abandonment abandoned applies if the allowance is not accepted. Further, if I had been brash at the rental adverse that an added 600 euro would be adjourned behindhand of whether I bought insurance, I would not acquire bought it and acclimated allowance covered beneath my acclaim card. Moreover, because I purchased allowance through Sixt, it negated any advantage that would acquire contrarily been accessible through my acclaim card.
I acquire now accustomed addition apprehension from the German accumulating bureau aggressive a accusation if I do not pay the 753 euros. Sixt abashed me into affairs added allowance and again addled me by not accouterment any advice apropos my rights and obligations at the time I busy the car. I would like this allegation and all fees and penalties to be removed. Can you abetment me?
—Curtis Williams, Ventnor, N.J.
Answer: Williams faced a adamantine advertise for Sixt’s advantage at the rental car counter, the affliction accessible abode to accomplish decisions about allowance options. He approved to abstain that by accomplishing his analysis advanced of time about his acclaim agenda coverage. But the clerk’s high-pressure sales approach pushed him into affairs advantage that he didn’t understand—and didn’t need.
He’s not alone. The alphabet soup of options offered by rental car companies, forth with claimed allowance policies, biking allowance provisions, and acclaim agenda advantage can addle travelers. Some 42% arresting themselves “thoroughly confused” about allowance advantage back renting a car, according to a analysis by the National Association of Allowance Commissioners (NAIC).
After the affray with the abettor over Williams’ acclaim agenda coverage, Sixt awash him blow advantage with blow accident abandonment (CDW, sometimes additionally alleged accident accident abandonment or CDW). Rental car companies are quick to point out that CDW is not insurance; it’s a abandonment that releases you from banking accountability if you accident the car. But best renters, including Williams, commonly accredit to it as insurance. Williams didn’t acquire that the CDW acclaimed on his cancellation was in actuality his coverage, and afield believed that a fee abandonment activated abandoned if Sixt’s advantage had been declined. It didn’t advice that the advantage was referred to by three altered agreement on his dual-language receipt.
Sixt about advises barter to acquirement CDW, according to adumbrative Florian Weiss. Back barter say their acclaim cards acquire coverage, Sixt agents about doesn’t admonish them to buy it, Weiss says.
“The barring to this is if a chump says that the deductible their acclaim agenda offers is actual high,” says Weiss. “But it should be acclaimed that agents at car rental stations cannot acquaint whether and to what admeasurement a acclaim agenda offers absolute cover; they await on barter cogent them.”
The CDW Williams purchased came with a 600 euro excess, which was acclaimed on his paperwork. Balance is a British appellation that’s agnate to deductible, and not classification Williams was accustomed with. Apparently Williams wasn’t acquainted the advantage he bought came with a deductible of any amount, and says the Sixt abettor didn’t explain it. Sixt offers assorted deductible levels, from aught to 1,000 euro, says Weiss.
“As a rule, Sixt agents acquaint their barter every time they hire that they can opt to abate their deductible to aught in acknowledgment for an added fee,” says Weiss. “It seems that Mr. Williams did not acquire to do that.”
Williams never contested that he damaged the car. He aloof anticipation the CDW Sixt awash him would booty affliction of the absolute bill. The absolute accident to the car amount 679 euros, according to Weiss, so the antecedent 600 euro Sixt answerable to Williams’ agenda was correct.
Prior to departure, Williams had arrested his advantage with his Capital One Visa Signature card. Acclaim agenda advantage generally has restrictions on types of cars, location, and rental length; Williams was acceptable to go on all counts. His rental was covered as continued as he answerable the absolute rental on his agenda and beneath the rental car company’s CDW/LDW.
Not abandoned was Williams pushed into spending 90 euros on CDW that he didn’t need, that CDW did absolutely invalidate his advantage through his Capital One Signature Visa card, aloof as he feared.
He ability acquire been able to abstain the affray with the abettor over allowance if he’d acquired a “letter of eligibility” from Visa, either in beforehand or by calling Visa from the rental car desk, according to Visa adumbrative Andrew Gerlt. Visa’s rental car allowance account ambassador is accessible 24 hours a day, 365 canicule a year at (800) 847-2911.
“This about serves as advance to the rental bureau (most generally internationally) that there is some akin of advantage for the auto rental accordingly they acquire recourse in the accident of an adventure and will not again force a chump to acquire and pay for the advantage they offer,” says Gerlt.
After Williams acknowledged the allegation with Capital One, Sixt was larboard with no way to aggregate its accepted 600 euro fee. Sixt indicates it did acknowledge to the chargeback inquiry, so it’s cryptic why Capital One bankrupt the book in Williams’ favor.
“That is why the aggregation had to accredit a accumulating agency, which is the accepted way of proceeding in the industry,” says Weiss.
After I contacted Sixt, it agreed to alarm off its accumulating bureau and abolish the aboriginal allegation as able-bodied as all penalties, alike admitting the aggregation behaved “correctly and transparently,” says Weiss.
“The aggregation considers its barter its best important assets, and does of advance appetite them to acquire Sixt abutting time they rent,” says Weiss. “Sixt accordingly treats chump achievement as its foremost priority.”
How can you abstain trouble?
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• Learn the capacity and banned of your acclaim agenda advantage advanced of time. Allowances alter abundantly according to agenda blazon and arising bank, and is usually burdened with restrictions over rental location, duration, car types and more. Visa won’t awning rentals in Jamaica, for example, or cars brash alien or expensive, or all-embracing rentals abiding added than 31 days.
• Find out what added allowance you acquire and what you need; accompanying advantage is a decay of money but at the aforementioned time, you don’t appetite to be accountable for the abounding amount of a car. The NAIC’s chump website has tips on what questions to ask.
• Bring affidavit to the car rental counter. Whether you’re relying on acclaim agenda coverage, your claimed auto action or biking insurance, booty a archetype of paperwork proving you’re covered with you to abstain a action with the rental agent.
• If the rental abettor won’t acquire advantage you’re abiding is valid, alarm your acclaim agenda aggregation afore affairs CDW/LDW to accomplish abiding you won’t lose your benefits.
• If you buy advantage through a rental car company, booty the time to apprehend through what you’re affairs and ask questions. Better to delay a few added account than acquire your vacation—and budget—ruined over a damaged car.
Do you acquire a biking chump affair you’d like Traveler’s Aide to pursue? E-mail Linda Burbank at [email protected] Your catechism may be acclimated in a approaching column.
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