There’s a clause in Avis’ European Car Rental Agreements which says …
“I confirm that I was offered a choice of payment in euros but chose to be billed in US dollars. (US$538.13 at exchange rate 0.72 euros to US$1.”
If your experience is like mine, no one will ever point out that phrase or offer you a choice of payment in euros. The bill you see will be presented in euros and you will have no idea that it will be converted to dollars before it is sent on to MasterCard.
What makes this a scam is that the exchange rate used by Avis will be substantially higher than the published rate used by MasterCard for all merchants who submit their bills in euros. In my case, the Avis invented rate was 1.38 dollars per euro versus the published rate for that day of 1.28 dollars per euro, a difference which cost me $28.00.
Avis does not tell you that they will use their own invented rate instead of the published rate used by everyone else.
Even after the fact it is very difficult to get Avis to tell you how they calculated your bill. It took me a month of phone calls and numerous misrepresentations by Avis billing department personnel, but Avis today (7/13/10) finally admitted to me that they are purposely and systematically over-charging customers by using the inflated euro conversion rate and by use of the confusing and untruthful “you have confirmed” message on the Rental Agreement when it is issued.
Then they blamed me.
The nice Avis lady told me I gave permission to be over-charged by signing the Rental Agreement. As if anyone in their right mind would knowingly give permission to be over-charged!
Avis counts on you not reading the “you have confirmed” clause when you’re in a hurry to get your car at the rental counter, with a line of customers behind you, and then not checking your credit card bill when it arrives many weeks later. Note to Avis: You got me at the rental counter, but I do check my credit card bill.
As a courtesy, Avis says they will refund the $28.00, but many days have passed and no refund has yet been posted to my MasterCard.
It’s a nasty scam!
Avis, why can’t you try harder
to treat your customers fairly?