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Don't Be Fooled
Posted by Friendlyguypel on 03/01/2010
LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS -- Watch out if you try to rent from Budget/Avis Rental Car. I rent cars very frequently. One week they changed my contract from a one day that I reserved through Travelocity to a three day contract FOR NO REASON. I admit some blame as I was in a hurry and didn't notice the changed - just signed the contract. DON'T DO THAT. I got stuck with a debit charge of $513 instead of the $150 quoted on Travelocity. I got with their customer service and their response was basically - you signed the contract so tough.

THEN, I reserved a car through Budget, not knowing they are owned by Avis. The information online said they took a debit car with proof of residents. When I got to the counter the woman said they would run me through Equifax before approving the debit card. I knew my credit is great, so I told her no problem. It was DENIED. I came back home and checked my credit score with Equifax and they have me as 784. My debit account had over $4000. Moral of the story. When they say they take a debit card, don't count on it. have a back up plan. If I can't get a debit card approved with a score of 784 then I am thinking its a crock and hardly anybody - if anybody- rents one with a debit card there.

Enterprise just usually requires proof of your current address. Go there and removed the doubt. I have never had trouble with Enterprise or Dollar - Just Avis and Budget.

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Avis running a racket with their new EZ Fuel "program"
Posted by Snoozypanda on 08/31/2009
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA -- If I could give the Las Vegas Avis Rental center 0 stars I would.

Their latest "program" charges you $13.99 for 0-75miles driven--we specifically were asked during check-in whether we wanted to opt out of the program, so naturally we said yes. The woman was very rude, but made it clear that we had to decide there because it was an opt-in/out program.

We refilled the tank to full as usual, and noted upon return that we were charged a $18 fee (after taxes). We immediately turned around to inquire about the additional charge and were told this was for the $13.99 EZFuel program (or whatever it was called). We made the mistake of paying the $8.05 in gas in cash (we're in vegas after all, cash dealings is almost the norm), so we did not have a receipt to provide to "waive" the fee.

We got the manager out--a youngish guy--extremely rude and poor customer service (none at all really). The contract specifically states that yes, a fee will be charged "if rental is returned with less fuel than originally rented". There's also one line after that that says "00-75 miles will be charged $13.99, present receipt to waive". Based on our questions and experience during checkin, we had every reason to believe that this was an opt-in program. Our mistake on not getting a receipt, but it's clear the tank is full--how can anyone justify charging $13.99 for returning a car with a full tank?

Apparently Avis can run this kind of racket. The manager even had the nerve to counter, and I quote, "How do I know you didn't just drive 20miles and didn't refill the tank? You could do that and the meter would still show full." Excuse me? That's your customer service? Snarky comments? Our odometer readings checking out and back in clearly shows we drove 64 miles.

They would gouge you out of $18 of hard-earned money and lose the business of us and all our friends (we're spreading this around to everyone we know) because they can justify charging for a full tank in their fine print, and misleading instructions.

The manager by the way, offered no help at all in terms of retrieving a receipt. They could've called the gas station, refunded us the 8.05 once confirmed, or let us take another car out to retrieve the receipt (gas station was 2 blocks away). But no, nothing. No concession.

This is a new program, we've not seen it before mind you. But based on the nature of this program and the misleading directions by Avis's personnel and non-existent customer service, I suggest everyone rent elsewhere.

Enterprise, Thirfty are other options we've had no problems with. Give your hard-earned money to honest companies that earn it.
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Posted by goduke on 2009-08-31:
Anyone who has ever rented a car knows that if you don't have the receipt with you, even without the Avis 75 mile rule, you are in risk of getting hit with a fuel fee. You absolutely have to be able to show them you bought gas, even if it's only 1/2 gallon.

Probably should have taken a cab to the strip. It's a lot cheaper than renting a car.
Posted by Anonymous on 2009-08-31:
Well I've had at least 12 rentals this year alone and I sure didn't know about the 75 mile rule. In fact I'd like to personally thank the OP for enlightening me on this subject. I pulled out my rental agreement from last week and sure enough it says, '00-74 miles $13.99 fuel fee added. To remove show receipt' then holy cow there's the 'SL' initials next to it. I DID NOT READ IT.

Well I for one think that stinks. I can't tell you how many times I've picked up a rental car when the tank wasn't completely full and heck sometimes it was actually below the 'F'. It's been my experience they sure don't top those tanks off at the rental place but I guess they're gonna charge as if they do. Dirty pool.

It is indeed reviews like this one that educates some of us less sophisticated travelers to the slick ways of the travel industry. Good review!
Posted by dan gordon on 2009-08-31:
same thing in Tucson and other airports I've rented a car in. You need to get a receipt. Even if they checked you in full some companies bill you later and you still need the receipt to prove your innocence. I know its reverse logic but car rental firms are desperate for more revenue so they have added many more rules than before.
Posted by snoozypanda on 2009-08-31:
Well one thing I'd like to add is that we have rented numerous times before and this has never been an issue. This particular case was also interesting because at the time we returned the car, the guy didn't even ask--he just presented us with the $18 charge and sent us on our way. We had 10min to spare so we looked at the receipt and asked specifically at the desk.

So by this logic, you apparently also have to manually go and wrangle with them to remove the charge (I guess they charge first, waive later). Maybe that's just the vegas rental center, but even assuming we had a receipt--if we hadn't stopped to ask, we would still be hit with the fee.
Posted by goduke on 2009-08-31:
Snoozy: if you show them the receipt as you check in, they take it off right then. I've done it in McCarran about 15 times in the last year.
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Horrible service overall - too many issues
Posted by Sullivan & Co on 12/21/2007
WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA -- Our company rented a car in DC. DC DMV issued a citation on the car. AVIS charged our card for the citation back in September. It's now the end of December and AVIS continues to send notices saying that it remains unpaid. The AVIS Virginia Beach Processing Center (the office that handles citations for DC) never return a single phone call or email after we left 27 MESSAGES for them. AVIS national customer service (US & Canada) did nothing to help and kept bouncing me around. I've tried with a lot of patience to get someone to help me. NO ONE AT AVIS KNOWS ANYTHING AND THEIR CUSTOMER SERVICE OVERALL IS HORRIBLE.

I GOT BOUNCED AROUND 11 TIMES AND NOT A SINGLE PERSON WAS ABLE TO HELP ME. HORRIBLE! HORRIBLE! HORRIBLE! We rent at least 8-10 cars every week and use use 2 major rental car companies. AFTER THIS EXPERIENCE, WE HAD A MEETING AND COLLECTIVELY DECIDED THAT ALL OF OUR NATIONWIDE OFFICES WILL NEVER USE AVIS AGAIN!! This may seem harsh, specially since it was 1 episode. None-the-less, this was a very serious and bad experience and we do NOT want to experience anything of the sort again.

I particularly want to point out the non-responsive departments:

1) AVIS's national customer service department is completely LOST! We spoke with 9 reps + 3 supervisors. No one helped and they all kept transferring us around.

2) DC citations office - Virginia Beach Processing Center. No one answers the phones there. I have left 27 messages between 12/5 and 12/21. No responses to a single email we sent. Left messages for supervisors K. Hanson and A. Weston. Sorry to have to mention their names here...but they completely failed us.
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Posted by Principissa on 2007-12-21:
Do you have proof that they charged your card for the citation? If so I suggest sending that to the city that you got the actual citation from, not AVIS. They may be able to assist you more than they have.
Posted by GothicSmurf on 2007-12-21:
What was the citation for? I'd stop calling and go into one of the offices and get things taken care of that way.
Posted by Sullivan & Co on 2007-12-26:
Yes. The proof of the charge was sent to the DC DMV. That does not matter much since AVIS still has not paid them.

I went to an AVIS location in person last week and they were not able to help either. "You have to contact the citations department for that" is the answer I always get. The local office does not have any records or control over the issue.
Posted by Plaid_piper on 2008-01-23:
I think that you have been mosy unfair in your decisions. I can speak from personal experience that Avis is an excellent rental company. With my corporate account we have the choice of our rental companies, and I always choose Avis. I find their customer service is excellent and I am blessed with exceptional agents any time I call.
I am sorry you had a bad experience, but I for one will never rent from any other company!
Posted by Kyle on 2013-08-12:
Your review is spot on. Avis-Budget sucks! I've called 11 times with no response. Horrible customer service and terribly run business
Posted by Ian on 2013-08-21:
I agree, their claims department is a joke. Does anyone even work there? They couldn't even produce the actual claim as proof, and just charged my card despite this major flaw. I will never rent from them again.
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Manager has poor customer service skils
Posted by Didomenij on 08/12/2012
WILMINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA -- I rent from Avis almost on a weekly basis and always had good luck, that was until this past Friday. I returned my rental to find the manager on the prowl in the parking lot looking at vehicles. She finds a rub on front bumper and claims I am liable. I explained to her that if I did it my credit card and company insurance would cover it.

It is just a matter of principle, trying to rip off the consumer, you would need to be an attorney to understand all the clauses in the contract. I also discovered that the Wilmington, NC site is a franchise and not a corporate location, so be careful in renting cars in small airports.

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Unauthorized toll charges placed on my credit card after usage
Posted by Shaferinlet59 on 12/16/2011

Indeed I did rent a car from Avis Budget Group at Providence Airport from 10/06/11 to 10/09/11. I did not however go through any Garden State Tolls. I did not go through any toll stations.

After arriving at Providence airport, my friend and I proceeded to the Budget counter. The reservation I had made 3 months prior was evidently worthless, the clerk in training offered me a larger vehicle at more money as they did not have the vehicle I contracted for. I told them I did not need nor want a larger vehicle and had to wait until an economy class vehicle was checked in, ironically a little red car with New York license plates. My elderly blind friend and I were made to wait until they could rinse the car off.
My guess would be that perhaps the person driving the vehicle to Providence went through the tolls or someone switched out whatever the transponder things are.

We left the airport and proceeded directly to Groton CT to our motel within the hour where we spent that evening after stopping to see my brother in Ledyard CT. The next day we spent the entire day touring Mystic Seaport in Mystic CT with the car parked until we visited my brother in Ledyard CT again. All these locations are in southeastern CT close to the Rhode Island state line. The following day, Saturday, October 08, 2011, we did not drive the car as my brother in CT took us around for the day. On Sunday, October 09, 2011 we returned the car to Providence airport via Burlingame State Park and Misquamicut Beach. The car was returned by the appropriate check in time. I have documentation showing where we were. We used 400 miles + - the entire time.

When I received my November credit card statement, I noticed the charge. I called the telephone number given to me 866-257-3707 on 11/02 at approximately 5 pm and spoke to a young lady about it. She was very rude and told me the transponder things didn’t lie. I explained to her I never left Rhode Island or southeastern Connecticut nor did I go through any toll stations. I spoke with her for about 17 minutes and she said she would contact me back after their investigation. To this day, I have never received a call back.

I called my sister in law in CT that same evening, 11/02 to ask where the Garden State Parkway was and if I had gone through tolls from Providence to Groton CT, the furthest distance I drove. She said it was in New Jersey! Imagine my surprise. I have receipts tracking everywhere I have told you and times of checkins/visits. My friend was with me the entire time and has agreed to become a witness to this case.

I hope the credit union will alert their customers to this shady practice of adding charges to unknowing customers in the hopes they will overlook them and pay the bill. Fox 13 news and Bay News 9 here in Tampa have been documenting and reporting on these shady practices. Furthermore, I will never rent another vehicle from Budget Rent A Car and will alert my friends and family to this incident by sharing and posting this letter.
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Posted by trmn8r on 2011-12-16:
My hope would be that this is not intentional, and designed to doop unsuspecting people who never check their credit card statements.

It sounds more like a case where transponders got moved around somehow.

Did you write down the woman's name who said she was launching an investigation on 11/2, and have you called her back since she did not contact you? Sometimes you have to go out of the way to protect you interests, when the people who should be working to help you don't.
Posted by trp2hevn on 2011-12-16:
Have you tried disputing the charges with your credit card company (before it's too late)?
Posted by At Your Service on 2011-12-17:
I agree that you need to dispute the charge.
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False Charges Totaling almost $3,000 with NO WAY TO REMOVE
Posted by Wannabelikebill on 09/12/2011
I was heading camping with my family for the weekend in a PA state park, and due to major storm warnings decided it would be smart to rent an SUV with four wheel drive. I made a reservation and picked up my vehicle no problem from 30th street station.

Several hours later upon arriving in the local town where the state park was located, we stopped to purchase some groceries for our weekend - in doing so I found that my checking account was overdrawn several hundred dollars.

Terrified I quickly loaded up my bank's mobile application on my iPhone to discover that not only did Avis charge me an initial balance for my rental; $182.40, but in addition charged me $1,112.69, TWICE!

Furious I immediately called Avis who said they had no record of this charge as the amount made no sense. After a long time on hold, they conferenced in my bank who confirmed the amount and gave them instructions to fax over a request to remove the erroneous hold. I was told to give it an hour and call back.

We headed to our campsite, where I had no cell phone reception, so an hour later I had to drive up the road to a pay phone located outside the park's office. I called my bank who notified me that the hold was being reversed and the money would be credited back to my account again shortly. The representative then asked if I was aware that the charge had been run through twice? Shocked I said of course not. She then informed me that in order to have the second charge removed I would need to have another fax sent over specifying that 2 holds in the amount needed to be removed.

I called Avis back and after 20 minutes of holding got someone on the phone who had no record of my prior call or the scenario I was faced with. Frustrated I explained the scenario and was put back on hold. After close to 40 minutes on the phone I was informed that the fax had been sent and all would be well. I informed the representative that I understood and required a second fax to be sent, to which she replied that is not possible as she could not see the hold in her system. Again, we called my bank - only this time after my bank representative explained there were two charges there was no Avis representative to be found.

Getting extremely upset at this point I sent my family hiking without me and stayed at the phone booth to call back Avis. Again, I got a representative who had no knowledge of my situation as his system did not contain any notes on the matter, this time I asked for a reference number so I had something to provide them with going forward. He assured me that the fax would be sent and I should try back in an hour. After an hour and a half I called my bank to learn that the charge was still there.

beside myself at this point I called back Avis who again conferenced in my bank and seemed to smooth the whole thing over, I was told the credits would be on my account and that the bank system would update at midnight, relieved I left to head back to my campsite after almost 3 hours of dealing with the mess.

The next day I awoke to find the charge still on my account and even less information contained in my file (even with a reference number) than before. Worst of all once back in my hometown, with the car returned, I found myself still on the phone with Avis trying to find out where the, at this time 3 faxes, that were presumably sent to my bank went - since my bank had never received them.

I called the local Avis branch yet again to AGAIN speak with someone who with my case reference number, did not see any information besides a single phone call from 2 days prior that was 'resolved' by sending a fax. They also refused to believe that I still had an additional $1,100 charge on my account since they could not see it in their system. At this point I took off of work and went to my bank where I had a customer service representative literally print up the transaction log and fax it on Bank letterhead to Avis. I then went to the Avis branch to confirm receipt, and deal with their puzzled faces when they realized they had charged me close to $2,700 for a two day rental. They had no idea what to do.

After another hour at the local branch watching Avis staff walk in and out of the front desk area scratching their heads, I called my bank after I watched them send a fax through hopefully vindicating the erroneous charge. My bank then informed me that the hold was in fact not a hold but was "notched" for payment, and nothing could be done until it cleared or dropped off - which would not happen until the end of the month, almost 2 and half weeks later.

My bank account is still showing charges IN ADDITION to my rental fees for $1,112.69 and I am told nothing can be done. Avis has AWFUL computer systems and INCOMPETENT staff, sorry but it's true. This has been overall one of the worst experiences of my life!
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Posted by trmn8r on 2011-09-12:
I use my credit card for everything. This is obviously the fault of someone at Avis, but with a credit card this may not show up at all, and if it did it could be disputed more easily.

When a checking account is involved, the footwork that you describe if often required to get a bank and a company to communicate. I'm sorry this happened to you - it is a real nightmare.
Posted by trp2hevn on 2011-09-13:
This is one of the reasons that I never use a debit card to rent a car.
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Avis Budget Car Rental, LLC. Rip Off's
Posted by Brenda (Florida) on 11/05/2009

With the holiday’s approaching I want to share my experience. Although my car rental was related to an auto accident Avis Budget Car Rental, LLC. requested my bankcard for a minimal deposit until the insurance could be verified.

Having failed to either contact us to verify information provided on the claim, or bill the insurance company properly four months later a charge of over $400. was applied toward the bankcard using the same authorization number from the date in which the deposit was made. After contacting Avis Budget Car Rental, LLC., customer service department about the matter, I was made aware that not only did Budget fail to handle billing correctly, but they overcharged by a whopping 5 days.

The representative kindly adjusted the bill, which zeroed the balance out, right? Not so, I was reimbursed by the insurance company as expected, but another four months later this past October, Avis Budget’s 5 day overcharge was re-applied to the bankcard using the very same authorization number.

Although Avis Budget has a contract with my auto insurance carrier in eight months not one of their representatives attempted to contact us to verify the information on insurance claim. Adding insult to injury although the overcharge had been previously adjusted, and the date of the rental’s return is verifiable Avis Budget Car Rental, LLC. representatives have refused to re-adjust the bill, or forward the matter to their corporate office for resolve.

Please assist me by posting this alert so that others might be informed.

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Posted by Anonymous on 2009-11-05:
What alert?
How did they rip you off?
Posted by Skye on 2009-11-05:
Details are so helpful around here.
Posted by redmx3racer on 2009-11-05:
Was this an Insurance replacment rental-where the rental company bills the insurance company directly?

Or was it supposed to be you pay for the rental and get reimbursed the cost of the rental by your insurance company?
Posted by JR in Orlando on 2009-11-05:
The problem apparently with the 5 days for which they were charged, when they had not used the car those days - an overcharge of 5 days. The insurance company either reimbursed them or paid Avis for the actual days used. I would dispute this with my bank.
Posted by Brenda (Florida) on 2009-11-06:
Avis Budget has a contract with my insurance carrier which allows them to bill direct. The problem here is two-fold. One billing was not handle properly at the onset, and two there was also a five day overcharge.

If AvisBudget encountered problems billing the insurance carrier this could have been handled by them contacting me to verify the information.

The rental agreement was established on February 1st, and the first charge towards my bankcard was made four months later in June. That's a long time for them not to get paid. If it were not for the fact that the charges were placed on my card, I would've never known about the five day overcharge.

Hopefully this will explain it better. As part of customer care the auto body center arranges the return of rental vehicles. Not leaving anything to chance I asked that they make the call to Avis Budget while standing there. It was scheduled for same day pick-up.

Again four months had passed, and everyone happy, or so I thought. Once Avis Budget received payment by charging it against my bankcard, and made the intial adjustment for overcharges the rental agreement should have been closed out, right? No, this past October they went back into the account to collect on the 5 day overcharge again.

On *yesterday* the regional director of the autobody center contacted Avis Budget on my behalf regarding the date the rental return was scheduled. Avis Budget made the deposit back into my account,BUT turned right around and took it back out.

This is madness ! No company should be allowed to have access to your account at freewill. And I did talk to my bank, I was told that depending on the type of purchase if you will the creditor could use the authorization number for about a year.

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Wrongfully accused of damage
Posted by Gifford on 10/19/2009
FT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA -- Avis is charging us for a key scratch that was on the car before we took possession of it. Unfortunately we did not notice the scratch until we arrived at our condo (directly from Avis) and could see the vehicle in sunlight. We mistakenly thought Avis probably already knew of the scratch. When we returned the vehicle, we were told by the inspectors that it was not there before. We then asked to speak to a manager, and someone disappeared and then returned saying they could not find the manager “but don’t worry about it, we’ll take care of it, it’s no problem, go catch your plane”, so we filled out a report and left. Several weeks later we received correspondence that we were being charged. We again wrote a report explaining what happened. Without any regard to any of these attempts to discuss the issue, Avis has now billed us for the damage. We contacted the claims department and they are unwilling to assist us suggesting we contact the managers at Ft. Lauderdale's facility. We then left messages with those managers and never received a return call. We would place our hand on a bible or swear on our lives this did not happen in our posession if it would help. No one at Avis is willing to listen. Of course (after the fact) they tell us we should have inspected the vehicle before leaving the lot and reported any damage found. No one suggested this to us before we picked up the vehicle which would've prompted us to look and probably see the scratch before we left. We would like to see video of what occurred while the vehicle was parked in the garage before we picked it up to know if someone keyed it then. Also video of us pulling out of the facility might also show the scratch. No one is responding to this request. Avis has disappointed us tremendously on this issue and we are glad for this forum which allows us to let others know what type of customer service they provide when they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Well they have lost a customer. We only went to Florida because we had 2 free plane tickets and a place to stay without charge. Our insurance is covering most of this bill but we are still responsible for the $250 deductible. We had hopes that State Farm would back us but they say it is not worth the fight. Well, $250 is the cost of one of those free plane tickets and not a small deal to us.

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Posted by Anonymous on 2009-10-19:
That's how all rental car companies keep up their cars, they scam whoever they can.
Posted by JR in Orlando on 2009-10-19:
Protect yourself at all times. If you did not inspect the vehicle prior to leaving the lot, you are partly to blame for this situation. Without have inspected it, who - including you - really knows if a bush or some other object did not cause this while it was in your control.

I learned my lesson. I rented a vehicle and after a day discovered a hole in the lower front bumper the size and shape of a bumper hitch ball. I thought I would have to pay, but luckily the rental records had the car listed as needing a new front bumper for a hole in it from a prior rental. Neither I nor the clerk had stooped down as we walked around and we had missed it. That's the last time that happened. Since then, I have been extra careful.
Posted by Anonymous on 2009-10-19:
OP, my husband is ANAL about checking rental cars before we leave with them. We always bring an extra memory card JUST for the car. Right in front of the attendant, he calls out every ding, scratch, bump, paint chip etc for me to write down AND he photographs it.

We have NEVER been charged for anything real or imagined lol.
Posted by Ytropious on 2009-10-19:
Same with apartments, you go through with the landlord and write down everything wrong with the unit before you sign the lease so they have little claim to your deposit. SAME deal with rental cars. Check it before you leave. You said you didn't notice it when you left Avis, but did when you got to your condo. How do you seriously know it didn't somehow happen in your possession? Also this scratch is costing more then 250 dollars to fix, seriously? If it was that big you'd think it would be more noticeable huh?
Posted by POMMYBLOKE on 2010-01-07:
see if you used sixt rent a car in the first place this problem wouldnt of happened as i always use sixt and they are very honest about there damages.
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Beware of Avis' Rental Car Insurance
Posted by Payaso on 01/24/2014
SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA -- I recently planned vacation travel to Costa Rica. I made car rental plans through Avis well in advance and went over all details on the phone before booking. I was told that comprehensive insurance coverage would cost about $100 for the rental period, (about 8 days). When picking up the vehicle, I was shocked to find out that the insurance coverage would actually run over $59/day. The car rental as a little of $600. The insurance coverage was over $600. I have 3 other people with me and our destination was about 100 km away. I had no choice and I our vacations plans would have been ruined had I declined the vehicle. I was in complete shock. Two other customers picking up their cars at the same time at either side of me at the pick-up counter were going through similar shock and were pulling out their credit cards, as landing in a foreign country with plans already made, none of us had any choice.

Had I known this situation in advance, I could have easily arranged for rental car insurance from another source. For example, American Express offers such coverage for about $25 for over 30 days of coverage.

I complained to Avis on returning home only to be blown off, with their e-mail response containing an attached copy of the contract I signed in Costa Rica when I picked the vehicle up. Of course, I already had a copy of that contract which I signed with no choice when I picked up the vehicle, as did the other two customers at the pick-up counter that day.

I have rented cars internationally on multiple other occasions, (not through Avis), and have never been so blatantly taken advantage of. I would caution any one considering an internal car rental to avoid Avis and to have whatever company they are selecting verify (in advance) the rental insurance charges IN WRITING and to consider other rental car insurance options.

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Car Rental Insurance Lie
Posted by Payaso on 01/15/2014
SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA -- I pre-paid for a rental from Avis in San Jose, Costa Rica for 10 days. It was a little over $600. They specifically told me when I booked & pre-paid that mandatory insurance had to be purchased at the time of pick up and that it would cost me about $9/day...about $100. When I pick the car up they said it would cost $59.99 day...over $600...as much as the car rental itself. I had no choice and two other customers who were picking up their rental cars at the same time were also in complete shock. We had all been lied to and, being in a foreign country ready to pick up our cars with no other choice, we had to pay the requested fee. I could have paid as little as $24.95 for 42 consecutive days of insurance coverage through American Express and similar inexpensive premiums for rental cars through other independent insurers. Avis totally screwed me and others I observed when we picked up our vehicles. We were all in complete shock with no options. Be smart and don't fall for this trap. Get your insurance if you are renting a car in another country, (especially Central or South America), through American Express or other company and avoid getting grossly over charged.
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