Do not rent a car from Dollar aka Buchbinder in Munich, Germany!

 
Old Sep 21, 14, 5:46 pm
  #1  
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Do not rent a car from Dollar aka Buchbinder in Munich, Germany!

I have rented an economy car for two days in Munich, Germany. While the booking has been made with the Dollar via the third-party web site, the local company they used in Germany was named Buchbinder. This, actually, is somewhat common situation. A number of US-based car rental companies in certain markets outsource their bookings to local agencies. However, based on my 10+ years and 100+ car rental experiences, that’s the situation when the trouble is more likely to happen.

As many of the readers of this forum I have one of those credit cards that provides car rental insurance. So, normally, I’d decline the coverage offered by the car rental agency and use the one provided by the card. In the last 10+ years I’ve have had two minor accidents involving rental cars and both times the “card insurance” took care of everything. So, I know for a fact that it’s reliable and works worldwide.

However, in many countries outside of the US purchasing at least a minimum CDW for the rental car was mandatory. So, those “insurance” sales used to yield a substantial profit for rental car companies. And they were not going to give it up easily even though in Europe “car rental agency CDW” is no longer mandatory. Hence, the local companies play all sorts of tricks to make you pay that CDW (which BTW is about 30+ dollars a day) even though you are perfectly covered by your credit card’s insurance.

In Munich both Dollar and Thrifty outsource their bookings to Buchbinder. As a result it caused quite a line, since the company seemed to be unable to handle such a large amount of business. Nevertheless, when I finally reached the counter everything seemed to be fine until the insurance issue came up. The lady refused to accept my credit card insurance without a written proof (a letter from the credit card company confirming the details of my coverage). Apparently this is written in their Terms and Conditions of rental. It is also written that no other third party insurance (expect for the below-mentioned credit cards) is accepted. However, all that was NOT written in the T&C I received from the booking agency.

Also, for some absurd reason, only insurance provided by a Visa card issued by a Canadian bank or Master Card issued by an American bank could be accepted. Nothing else! The “written proof” has to be either a printed letter or a fax sent directly to them. Luckily I had some spare time and Munich airport had free Wi-Fi. So I skyped the benefits department of my credit card company and asked them to fax the Buchbinder the insurance confirmation letter (they were VERY familiar with the issue). I also asked them to email me its copy.

The email came momentarily. I saved the letter on my flash disk and went back to the counter. While I was skyping the line got even longer. I waited another 20 minutes but by the time I reached the counter the lady claimed the fax has not arrived. I gave her my flash disk and asked to print the letter from there. But she said the flash disk could not be used on any of the computers in their office and suggested that I find a business center at the airport and print it there. After some discussion, she agreed to give me the station’s email address and asked to forward the letter there. I did that immediately. This time she WAS able to print it and went to the back room to show it to her boss. In fact, she was going there quite often, whenever she needed to check if the fax has arrived, whether my card was acceptable and for most other questions.

A few minutes later she came back and said that the letter wasn’t good enough. Since I was a Canadian with a card issued by an American bank that somehow complicated things. She asked if I had another card. At that point I was furious. I opened my wallet and showed her half a dozen of cards, all with car rental insurance. I asked her (or, effectively, her manager, since she was just a pawn) to pick the one they liked. I told her that once they choose the card I would skype its benefits administration department and they would email her another insurance confirmation letter. And I was ready to do that with all the cards one-by-one until they receive a letter which would satisfy them.

She went again to the manager and returned back almost immediately. She claimed that in 30 second she was there they called the headquarters (yeah, right) and, apparently, my first card and the first letter were OK. Without further delay she processed the paperwork and gave me the keys. While she was doing so I suggested that next time I would have a few pre-printed “insurance proof letters”, so that she would be able to choose the one she likes. With an angry face she said that she hoped next time I would choose another car rental agency. It was clear that they didn’t want my business without the purchase of an over-inflated CDW.

Thankfully, the rest of my rental was uneventful. So, I just want to warn other members of this forum about this scam. It is clear that Buchbinder was doing everything they could to entrap people. While, technically, it’s not mandatory, they set up a system to force people to buy the unnecessary CDW. I mean, I came on a short intra-European flight, had enough spare time and was willing to play their stupid games. But how many people would be able/willing to do that after an inter-continental red-eye? How many of them know, how to inexpensively call their credit card company from a foreign country (most places DO NOT have free Wi-Fi)? And, finally, how many would be able to stand the humiliation in front of entire line? In my case, while I was skyping the counter lady made a few comments like “it’s ONLY 50 euros extra” or “you’d probably spend more on the phone call”. In other words, she was actively discouraging me from getting the letter.

So, I’d recommend all, who plan to rent a car in Germany (or in Europe in general), to come with a few pre-printed “insurance proof letters” from different credit card companies (at least, Visa and MasterCard). And be ready for an unpleasant transaction. And I am pretty sure this was NOT an isolated incident with a certain station of a certain car rental agency. Three years ago I had an even worse car rental experience, again, in Germany. That time it was a company named Terstappen, Thrifty’s local outsourcee. They charged me an entire deductible (800 euros) for a scratch, which not only was there in the first place, but would have been considered “normal wear and tear” in the US. Luckily, my credit card’s insurance company worked just fine. I have sent them all the paperwork, they promptly refunded 800 euros to my credit card account and I have never heard back from Terstappen. However, since then I am extremely careful when accepting the rental car in Europe. And I write down all the little dings and rubber marks, which in the US I wouldn’t even be worried about.
GREAKLY is offline  
Old Nov 16, 14, 3:49 am
  #2  
 
Join Date: May 2010
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Terstappen bought by buchbinder. If you do not buy cdw,you will be charged damage,unless you take photo and note all small scratch on paper with extra piece of paper.
travel69 is offline  
Old Nov 23, 14, 9:23 pm
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
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You do realize that "Europe" is a continent and not a country?

:-)
emrdoc is offline  

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