Dear travel technician, I rented a Dollar car at Frankfurt Airport via Auto Europe. When I made the reservation, Auto Europe immediately charged me $ 213 and I received a voucher for the six day rental. On the first page of the voucher, highlighted in blue were the words: "OPTIONAL INSURANCE".

After a 14 hour flight between California and Germany, I arrived at the Dollar counter in Frankfurt, which was closed. A sign directed me towards the Hertz meter next to him. I presented my coupon, but an employee of Hertz told me that I could not rent the car without taking out collision-free collision insurance and Hertz flight insurance.

Christopher Elliott, the travel troubleshooter ...Christopher Elliott, the Travel Troubleshooter

Initially, I refused because the Chase Sapphire Visa card that I use to pay for CDW rental covers and theft around the world. But Hertz would not rent me the car. I told them that I had rented cars all over the world, from South Africa to Costa Rica, no problem, but they did not move. I was obliged to accept the insurance. I could not leave because I had already paid in advance for the rental.

The additional insurance costs 246 euros and the protection against theft 106 euros. After taxes, this represents $ 510 in addition to the initial rental fees. I asked Hertz and Auto Europe to pay me back, but they will not budge. Can you help?

– Silvia Restelli, San Jose

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Reply: Hertz and Auto Europe should collapse to help you get a refund. If your Auto Europe confirmation indicated "OPTIONAL INSURANCE", the insurance should have been optional. Instead, Hertz charged you CDW and "theft protection" fees. (What is it and why is it obligatory? Who knows?) Worse still, the car rental company had made you pay a barrel since you had paid in advance for your car.

I think that car rental companies and their agents need a reality check. How on earth can you charge $ 213 for a rental, then $ 510 in "mandatory" insurance?

The written correspondence between you, Hertz and Auto Europe, your agent, is even more frustrating. At one point, it appears that you are participating in an online discussion with Auto Europe. In a memorable exchange with Hertz, a representative states: "Silvia, we show that CDWs and TPs are mandatory in Germany unless you have a letter from your insurance company stating that rental cars in Germany are covered . Did you have this letter? All reservations with Dollar / Thrifty in Germany have this requirement. "

You ask why the bond was not disclosed. Then Hertz says, "The charges are valid." Your reaction is invaluable: "Am I talking to a bot?"

It would not surprise me if you were.

If Dollar, owned by Hertz, requires insurance and protection against theft for his vehicles – and he has the right to do so – he must say so. On the front. Quote $ 213 but ask $ 723 is a mistake.

I publish the names, numbers and e-mail addresses of the Hertz and Dollar customer service managers on my consumer site: www.elliott.org/company-contacts/hertz. I also have contact information for Auto Europe management contacts: www.elliott.org/company-contacts/auto-europe.

I contacted Auto Europe about your case. The company has agreed to refund your insurance costs.

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