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


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.


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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  • Chris

    I would just request a chargeback through my credit card provider stating that the claim is disputed. The rental company then needs to prove the damage and take you to court if they want to (they never do because they know they have no leg to stand on). End of story.

    • cscasi

      That’s not necessarily so. They can dispute the charge back dispute from the bank and show the bank photographic evidence of the claimed damage and the cost of repair. The bank will normally accept that and cancel the original charge back.

      • jakpott

        not if you don’t authorize the charge.

    • ElToro

      I’d also suggest to request a chargeback through your card. I had some success with this in the past when rental companies tried one of their tricks (speeding fine about one year after! etc.). It’s not only Hertz, unfortunately, and it also depends on the country. Try to get as many proofs as possible before starting your journey, and also document the return.

      • This could lead the rental company putting you to a “do not rent” list.

        • ElToro

          That might happen, of course, but given it’s only a few times I don’t think so. If you rent more than every once in a while, that might be a point to consider. It might be better to buy supercover or use a card with full coverage in these cases.

  • Derrek Davis

    Thanks for the warning. I am renting from Hertz in Munich and will be on my guard about this now!

  • boekel

    I think with Hertz there is a system behind it. I intended a month ago to rent a car with Hertz in Portugal. They didn’t or didn’t want me to provide with a log showing all scratches the car had. I was supposed to check a car which was dirty and show the guy all the scratches I want to have noted. If I would oversee one, clearly they would have charged it to me.
    That’s called double dipping, but this time by the rental agencies. If ever possible I refrain from Hertz

  • Dragonfly

    Many years ago we rented a car with Hertz in Australia and they automatically charged us for a scratch which we did not cause. It was awful because they had our credit card and so charged it without our authorisation. In those days we were very naive and did not dispute and decided not to go near them again. Last year we got an Amex plat card which includes car rental insurance so this year we decided to try Hertz as Amex plat card got a hertz status. It was a big mistake, they charged us an additional hour for late return – but it was not so, we have written to them. The amount was not significant but it was a matter of principle. I have read on some forums that Hertz employees have commonly done this – charging for additional hour, hoping it was a small amount and no one would notice? Needless to say we will keep clear from Hertz again – it was a terrible experience.

    • cscasi

      Have them annotate on your receipt what time the vehicle was returned. Then they have a hard time charging you later for a late return. Proof is proof. You have to protect yourself.

  • It HERTZ when.I.P.

    In Germany (certainly Munich but I think other airports too) it seems that there is a central organization that receives returned vehicles, and then dispatches them to the relevant rental company. About 8 years ago I rented a van and returned it unscratched, and while I did not get a receipt, my rental voucher was initialed upon return. A few weeks later I got a bill from Hertz for EUR1,800. After much haggling, they eventually sent me photographs of a van that had clearly been smashed into one of the parking garage pillars. Clearly the idiot who did that transferring the van to Hertz felt it would be better for his ongoing employment prospects to say the vehicle was dropped by the customer like that, rather than confess his stupidity and incompetence. Eventually under legal threat Hertz backed down but I decided then that they were a dreadful company. My answer – GO LIKE A PRO. National is way, way better.

    • cscasi

      Take pictures of the vehicle before you take it and again when you return it. If possible, have a representative walk around the vehicle with you and annotate any damage you or the representative sees and have the Rep. sign it. It’s a lot harder for them to bill you for damages if you have proof to the contrary.
      If you do get charged, make them provide you photographic evidence of the damage and the bill for fixing it; just to ensure you are not paying for any damage you caused along with damage someone else may have caused and you get the bill for all of it.

      • Peter01

        I know of a case where a European rental company still charged for damage, even with photographic evidence from the customers at time of drop off. They just claimed the pictures were “obviously” not taken at time of drop off and that the meta-data doesn’t prove anything as you can just go to your phone settings and change the time. Instead they came up with their own pictures and the credit card company was thus unable to reverse the charge.
        I guess we must now be making a video? Continuous filming showing the damages and then the milage meter?

        • dchl

          In case of doubt take pics with a daily on day of return…

          • Peter01

            Like I said, the rental company can dispute any pictures you have sent them as there isn’t any proof that you made them at time of drop off…

          • dchl

            Once again: If in doubt, hold a (current) newspaper in front of the car when taking the pics to prove the condition on day of return. Together with time on your mobile and background of rental company that should be more than enough! (That’s what my former company always did when they had to prove repairs to the insurance company – they took pics before and after. The daily paper proved the condition on that particular day.)

          • Peter01

            Excuse me, I didn’t understand what you meant the first time. Having a current newspaper in the picture seems like a good way to protect yourself against these kinds of accusations!

  • MrsC

    Watch out for Avis too in Portugal–the return paperwork is in Portuguese and you have no way of knowing what you signed for until you get the credit card bill. Their airport car rental lot is very dark too and it is difficult to see any damage when you pick it up and they had really young inexperienced kids doing the checkin and checkout services. Also the online reservation which was made on the Canadian website, but was confirmed in US funds and then billed in Euros. We had a horrible time dealing with AVIS to resolve these issues–got passed back and forth between the US and the Portugal offices. We had car damage (hotel valet parking) and filed with our Visa card but we had the attendant who calculated the repair costs do it 5 times as each time we knew the rates were too high–eventually we agreed on a price but the kid had no idea what he was doing. We will never rent from AVIS again anywhere.

  • Matthias

    Also happened to me…that´s the reason why I´m only renting with full-comprehensive insurance without participation. It costs a bit more, but at the end it saves you time, nerves and maybe money. Sometimes there are good rates over ADAC, AAA etc.

    If you have full coverage without participation, often they don´t really check the car or told me there´s no reason to come back to counter if i find a scratch which isn´t registered. All happened with Hertz.

  • McCaron

    I just booked a car rental with my Air France Flying Blue miles for a 2-week period this summer with Hertz. So it didn”t cost me a cent. But the “price” only includes CDW but there is still a fee of 800-1500 euros depending on the vehicle type. Hertz offers to book a “supercharge” coverage in order to waive this kind of fees. As i didn’t book with my Amex, i believe there is no coverage at all when I book with miles. I am going to pay for the Supercharge coverage.

    • Katie

      Consider getting excess insurance from a seperate company, you can get the whole year for about 80USD. We use a company in Britain.

  • jakpott

    Same experience at AVIS in Bonn, 1700 Eur. I had a German paralegal send a dispute letter to AVIS Germany. When no action taken by AVIS, I submitted the dispute letter to MasterCard and had the charges reversed. 1 week later, AVIS emailed with good news that the amount was now only 700 Eur (which I ignored).
    Paralegal advised that if the car rental agency feels they have a case, then they can take you to court over any damage. In Germany, they simply can’t charge a credit card as they like. Even if there is some statement in the rental contract, that doesn’t make it somehow legal.
    It cost me 120 Eur to fight this BS (which I never forget when it comes time to rent a car.. AVIS).
    Fight it and reverse the charges.

  • Katie

    This is such a common problem. My husband just accepted a scratch on a rental car in Italy which we didn’t do and we then got a charge of 1200euro. I told him he should have disputed the scratch and the price that they charged but by then he had already signed off. We now take a video of the car before we leave the parking lot to document all the scratches. We also take out a seperate additional car rental excess insurance with a private company as we have found the credit card companies difficult to deal with. We haven’t had this situation again so I can’t be certain that any of this will help though. We normally refuse an upgrade due to fuel consumption and parking problems. Last week we booked a Jaguar for a special weekend and when my husband went to pick it up they gave him a BMW hatch, I made him go back (he doesn’t like confrontation) and ask for either a discount or a Jaguar, wow a Jaguar just happened to appear (this was also in Germany). It is such a difficult situation, no matter where in the world you are it is really hard to find a consistently good rental car company.

  • afonso barreiro

    Sixt charged me in Portugal, I think that valet parking at hotel did it, because certanly I didtn it, never let your car at valet!