When Hertz refuses to rent a car to Wendy Thomas, her online travel agency insists on charging her for the insurance anyway. Is there any way to get her money back?

Q: I have a problem with Hertz and Orbitz. I recently reserved a rental car from Hertz through Orbitz. At the time, I paid $30 for a collision damage plan to insure the car.

When I arrived in St. Louis, Missouri, to pick up the car, Hertz wouldn’t give me a rental because I was using a debit card. They had no means of entering my credit card number directly and they didn’t accept cash. I ended up renting from another rental agency.

I contacted Orbitz to get a refund for the collision damage plan. But I’ve just gotten the runaround. Orbitz claims Hertz gave me a car. That’s impossible, since Hertz never got my debit card information. I’ve asked Hertz to send me a letter verifying that I didn’t rent, but it hasn’t.

So I’m stuck. Orbitz won’t refund the collision damage plan because it thinks I rented a car. Hertz won’t clear the matter up, and keeps sending me back to Orbitz. Can you help me? — Wendy Thomas, Austell, Georgia

A: I’m sorry Hertz wouldn’t rent you a car. Some rental companies won’t accept debit cards or cash for a rental. Your case is an important reminder that you should check with your car-rental company before trying to use anything other than a major credit card. 


But wait — shouldn’t you get your $30 car-rental insurance refunded? I think so. Orbitz wouldn’t refund your rental because its records showed you had rented a car, and therefore took advantage of the policy.

Getting this Orbitz insurance charge cleared up should have been easy. In fact, I think Orbitz should have owned up to this problem and reached out to Hertz on your behalf. The online travel agency shouldn’t have forced you to deal with Hertz. I mean, isn’t that what travel agents are supposed to do? Of course it is.

An appeal to a manager at Orbitz or Hertz might have helped move your Orbitz insurance charge case along, too. I list the names, numbers and email addresses of Orbitz customer service managers on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org (Orbitz is owned by Expedia). I also list the executive contacts at Hertz

I contacted Orbitz to find out what happened to your rental. It reviewed your file and found exactly the same thing: Its records showed that you rented the car.

“After further investigation by Hertz and following additional communication from Ms. Thomas to both Hertz and Orbitz, Hertz did eventually confirm that the reservation was never picked up due to billing issues,” an Orbitz spokeswoman said.

Orbitz refunded your $30.