Subject: Car Rentals in France
Hello to Charlotte and All Ziners,

My most recent experience with this was not good, and I dealt directly with Hertz, reserving months in advance of our trip. I had reserved a Peugeot 307 automatic at an estimated cost of 312 EURO; however, on arrival we were told we had a Mercedes SUV. We assumed the substitution was because it was the only available automatic. I had confirmed that my American Express card, on which I had reserved the transaction, would provide a CDW. I even went so far as to have a hard copy of the Amex coverage with me. The young woman who waited on us at the Hertz counter insisted that, unless I took the complete Hertz insurance package, we would immediately be liable for 26,000 Euro "in the event of ANY kind of damage to the automobile, no matter how minor." She repeated this several times. I felt that, as two senior citizen ladies, we were being taken advantage of, but I didn't think we had any recourse other than to refuse to take the car and thoroughly blow the trip. So I signed the ticket, knowing I would have American Express protest it.

That was last October. I filed the protest as soon as we returned home. Three times it came back, saying that since I had signed the ticket I obviously accepted their insurance and there was nothing they could do. It increased our rental to more than 800 Euro (from 312). So I started dealing directly with Hertz and got the same answer. I then wrote them a strong letter (no foul language) and assured them the more than 1,100 people on the travel website I was active with would not be any more impressed with their way of doing business than I was. I then got an email back saying that, although it was against their policy, in view of my strong feelings and to keep my business (fat chance), they would credit me for half the difference. This was last month. I did get the credit immediately. I am now just trying to forget the whole thing as it just frustrates me. Half was better than nothing, and it shows you shouldn't just accept the first response(s) in a dispute.

I'm starting to think it is a rather general policy to try to force/scare people into buying their high-priced insurance. My advice would be to have them confirm in writing that your credit card is acceptable to cover the CDW (whoever you deal with). If they substitute a higher-priced car, it shouldn't change that fact.

Bon chance, Lou Matthews in Lakeway, TX