TRAVEL with pat and lew

* caution to Avis car renters in Europe … Avis purposely and systematically over-charges the conversion of your bill from euros to dollars

Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 13, 2010


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?



2 Responses to “* caution to Avis car renters in Europe … Avis purposely and systematically over-charges the conversion of your bill from euros to dollars”

  1. HY Braun said

    Avis-rental-scam –
    I wish I had the know about Avis. This time they have a different scam. When we checked in at the Frankfurt Airport in Germany, Aug. 26, 2010. They just gave us the car keys and off we went. When we returned the car 2 weeks later a person from Avis looked the car over with a microscope! And claim that he saw a scratch on the front passenger side bumper. There was a scratch no more than 2-inch long. But since no one looked over the car before we drove off the parking lot. It did not occurred to us to check the cat before, and we know we did not cause the damage. It could have been there already when we got the car.
    The credit card we used to charge the rental has insurance coverage, but Avis-scam promptly charged our credit card for 449.00 Euro for a small scratch!!

    When we came back from vac. we heard similar stories. We are disputing this charge. And learned a lesson that you should always remember to take picture of the entire car before driving off the parking lot to avoid Avis-rental-scam.

  2. Jim Raper said

    Lew, we have a house in Port Vendres, nextdoor to Collioure. Have been traveling to Cote Vermeille for 15 years or so. Five years ago we vowed never again to rent a car/drop off a car in Barcelona and to NEVER, EVER use Avis. This is after two ridiculous experiences with double charges. Yes, we finally got bills corrected, but each time it took months of them holding hundreds of dollars of our money. Another time we went out to parking lot and the car which our papers showed as in perfect condition had significant fender-bender damage. Folks told us if we didn’t take the car we would have to return to booth and wait again in line. Folks in lot didn’t want to change the car condition report to reflect the damage, but we threw a fit and they finally did. (You may ask why we kept using Avis. Last two bad experiences came even though we tried to avoid Avis; both times our contract with one of the Europe Car/ Auto Europe outfits was “handed off” to Avis to handle.)

    We now always use the buyback program with Renault or Peugeot. Never a problem.

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