TRAVEL with pat and lew

* CDW … why is this so difficult?

Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 26, 2008

I had made a car rental reservation, for 8 days in Sicily, with Hertz, some time ago, making sure to exclude collision damage waiver (CDW) insurance. The reason for this is that CDW is provided by Citibank, if I pay for the car rental using my MasterCard, but Citibank’s 100% coverage is invalidated if I also purchase CDW (with a deductible) from the car rental company. So buying CDW from Hertz would mean spending more money for less coverage. I made this mistake once before and I am very careful to avoid it again.

Two days before we left, while I was on the web looking for an address for the Trapani airport to plug into our GPS, I saw an ad for car rentals in Trapani by a booking company called, with which I was previously unaware. I clicked on the ad, found a NYC phone number, booked a car rental in Trapani (with Europecar) for roughly 50% of the Hertz price. I was absolutely clear about no CDW, and was assured that CDW was excluded from my contract.

Argus sent email contract confirmations to me, two times, but I did not receive them. I asked them to send it to Pat; she did not get it either. We are having some sort of email problem, involving blocked emails, and have not been able to determine if it is Comcast or which is the culprit. That is a story for another day.

I looked up the Argus reservation on their web site; it was there, but without any details. I called Argus, and they gave me the Europecar confirmation number, without which Europecar will not release the car. I cancelled the Hertz reservation.

Then, nervous about not having a full written confirmation, I asked Argus to send the confirmation to Pat’s daughter; we simultaneously asked Kerry to forward the email to us. That procedure worked fine.

However, when I read the Argus confirmation, it said CDW included. I called and was given totally incorrect information by two Argus agents, who insisted that I didn’t have CDW even though the contract said I did. There is a second level CDW insurance, which covers the deductible, and they were saying that since I didn’t have the ‘super’ CDW insurance, I had no CDW insurance. I got a number for Europecar HQ in Ireland and called them.

(thank you, Skype, for making all these international calls so inexpensive.)

Europecar immediately confirmed that they did not offer car rentals in Trapani without CDW coverage. I would have to cancel the reservation. But, would I be able to get another car from Hertz, or anybody, without CDW. A call to Hertz international reservations resolved the problem. And, my happy ending was enhanced by the fact that the new Hertz reservation was $300 less than the one I had previously cancelled. The original reservation was for an intermediate car, since no compact was available. This time, I was able to book a compact at the lower price. Also, maybe last-minute reservations, if a car is available, are discounted. Something to keep in mind.

Post script. When I picked up our car from Hertz in Trapani, the contract included CDW, although the price did not. ALWAYS READ THE CONTRACT !!!  After a brief discussion, Hertz corrected the contract to exclude CDW. The car is a Ford Fusion 5 door square back, which I think is not a compact.

As I drive this too-large car, through the narrow, twisting streets of Taormina, with crazy Italian drivers and motor scooters constantly passing me on the right, noticing that most of the other cars have dents large and small, I am very happy I was persistent enough, and fortunate enough, to retain my 100% Citibank CDW coverage.



One Response to “* CDW … why is this so difficult?”

  1. I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

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