Reader Question: Hertz In Germany Charging For Damage Not Caused?

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A LoyaltyLobby reader sent me an email about a situation that many are facing when renting cars in Europe – suddenly facing a huge bill due to minuscule dent!

Reader Question Hertz

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Here’s the email from the reader:

I read your blog for years and find it very useful although I don’t travel much as before. Recently I read about a problem you had with Hertz in Germany.

Well, I rented a car with Hertz in Munich in May and after a few days, I discovered that they charged me for a scratch that I did do.

I reserved a midsize car and when I went to Hertz counter in Munich Central Station, the lady told me she didn’t have the car available in the category that I reserved and that she would give me a “nice upgrade” (her words), a huge Land Rover. We rented only for a day drip to Neuschwanstein castle.

I had to go to a garage in another building near the station to get the car.

When I returned the car, the Hertz employee that inspected the car found a little scratch in the wheel near the tire. I told him that I didn’t do that. My wife told the same. There was no way to see that scratch when I rented the car because the garage was a bit dark.

After telling that I didn’t do that scratch, I waited a little bit, then I asked the Hertz employee if everything was fine. He said yes and gave me a paper written in german. I looked at the paper and didn’t see any additional charges. Note that he didn’t give me any receipt.

Few days later, I saw in my credit card statement that Hertz charged me more than 800eur for a scratch that I didn’t do. Looking again at the paper that they gave me when I returned the car, I decided to translate few words to see what was that. So, I found that the Hertz employee registered that I did a scratch and all other previous scratches were registered to an earlier date/hour, meaning that a single driver made all those scratches.

It is clear to me that this is a case of bad faith. Seems a coup between the lady in Hertz counter and the Hertz employee that inspected the car.  Clearly, someone in Hertz didn’t register that scratch before and found a way to register in the following rental.

I have a Mastercard Platinum card that gives me the insurance for free when I pay the rental with the card. I filed a claim, but they rejected saying that the car was ineligible. It seems that the insurance covers cars up to US$ 75k. But I didn’t reserve that car… it was an “upgrade”.

What do I do? I don’t want to pay for a damage that I didn’t do!

This is really a problem in Europe especially for those coming from North America where it is usual that rental cars have dents and scratches all over the place.

It is utmost important to go through the vehicle and mark all the possible dents and scratches on the rental sheet before leaving the premise. This is the only way to ensure that you won’t end up paying dearly when returning the vehicle for damage that you didn’t do.

Not sure what if any options the reader here has. The “upgrade” that the reader received invalidated the insurance that the credit card would have provided.

Conclusion

Wouldn’t surprise me if some car rental agencies would be double dipping with these scratches and charging form them multiple times. Not saying that Hertz here would be doing it.

My advice is to be extra careful when inspecting the car and pay extra attention to any dents and scratches however small they might be and mark them on the rental sheet.

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