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Travel Troubleshooter: Car rental company should have covered $55 tax

  • Article by: CHRISTOPHER ELLIOTT
  • March 28, 2013 - 5:47 PM

Q: We booked a 10-day vacation package in Cancun, Mexico, through Hotels.com that included air, hotel and a rental car. Taxes were included in the price of the rental car.

When we arrived at the Hertz rental counter, we were told there was an additional tax of about $55. I paid the $55, expecting to be reimbursed from Hotels.com.

I’ve written two e-mails to Hotels.com, but both have gone unanswered. When I called, a representative told me the $55 charge was a “deposit” that would be returned to me. But a call to Hertz confirmed it was a tax and no refund was due.

I have booked 12 to 15 rooms through Hotels.com, had good service and would consider myself a good customer. That is why I can’t understand why they would ignore my e-mail and lie to me over the phone. There is not a lot of money at stake here, but I would at least like to receive a reply as to why I am not being reimbursed.

A: If Hotels.com said taxes on your rental car were included, then they should have been included. You sent me a copy of your confirmation, and sure enough — they were.

When your itinerary doesn’t match reality, one of your options is taking the matter up with your online agency when you return. But it shouldn’t be your first choice.

When Hertz asked you to fork over another $55, you should have phoned Hotels.com. At least they could have made a notation in your record. But ideally, someone at Hotels.com could have made a call to Hertz and sorted this out before you returned the rental car.

Sending a brief, polite e-mail to Hotels.com once you returned was a good idea, and I have no idea why it didn’t respond. Normally, when you send an e-mail through its website, companies like Hotels.com send an automatic response and assign your query a tracking number. If you don’t receive either, then it’s a safe assumption that the company didn’t receive your e-mail.

I’m not surprised by the subsequent phone problems. For what it’s worth, I don’t think the Hotels.com representative was lying to you. He likely had no idea what the $55 was for.

If Hotels.com continued ignoring you, I think you might have taken up this case with your credit card. I contacted Hotels.com on your behalf, and it refunded your $55.

Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine. Read more tips on his blog, elliott.org or e-mail him at chris@elliott.org.

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