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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Wild Rental Cars Abroad

airport-car-rentalThis is not the first time I’ve had issues with rental cars.  Once I had to be rescued ontop of a mountain when I was reduced to only first gear.  That was an event, leaving the car to be towed, and hopping into another car with a guy from the rental company.

Usually, I rent from local companies when abroad.  The last time I was in Israel, there was an issue with using a debit card, and I no longer possess any credit card.  Didn’t want to go through that again. 

Benedetto suggested that I go with an American rental car agency.  They would understand debit cards, etc.

“Okay, can you call them to make sure?” I asked.car_rental_israel

“Yes, but it’s no big deal.  I use my debit card all the time–.”

“So do I, but I’m telling you, the last time–.”

He calls and they say yes, of course, no problem.

Arriving at the airport in Tel Aviv, it’s another matter entirely.  No way, Jose’  Or, ein derech, Yosef.

“But my husband called Hertz in America,” I protested.

“But that’s not us.”

56224426“He called your international desk,” I shook my head.

“They don’t have the same credit procedures that we have,” they shook back.

“Look, you can use a debit card as a credit card.  It’s virtually the same thing.”

“No, we would have to take a big deposit from the card, and then, in Israel, we cannot return that money back to you.  It’s a different system….”

“Listen, he called and checked.  They said fine.”

And so we stood there, discussing in Hebrew for 30 minutes or so.  All this with jet lag.  They finally called the bank hyundai--i10of my card and got approval.  Then you might remember my account of needing to walk back and forth from distant parking garage to terminal and back again.  I guess the exercise was intended to get the blood flowing through my plane-induced, swollen, sausage-like legs that resembled the circumference of Sequoia tree trunks at that point.

Finally, I got the car out of the twisting and turning parking garage, got the ticket from the machine, inserted the ticket into another machine when leaving the airport, headed out onto the highway, and it sounded like the car is going to blow up.

Drove it for another two days, without a spare minute to return it, 201102-w-travel-fees-car-insurancepraying that I won’t be stalled on the side of the road.  At last, I decided to return it before the one-day weekend, Shabbat, the sabbath, which means I needed to be in their office on Friday as everything comes to a close in the early afternoon.

Benedetto:  Take it back on Friday.

Me:  I’m concerned about Shabbat, they might be very busy.

Benedetto:  I called the international desk and they say you need to call the Tel Aviv office at the airport.  If you return it to Jerusalem, it will be like breaking the contract.

I call the number.  The guy says to come right then (Thursday night) and return the car to the airport.  I tell him I’m not about to travel a two-hour round-trip at this time of night.

Guy:  Okay, return it in Jerusalem.3016

Me:  My husband said I need Tel Aviv’s permission to return it here. 

Guy:  Alright, let me connect you to customer service.

After being on hold for over six minutes, I hang up.  Did I mention I’m having cell phone issues, too?

Benedetto calls Tel Aviv, speaks with a supervisor, asks if this is how they treat “Gold Card” members?  The guy says he will send Jerusalem an e-mail to have a car ready and waiting by 8:00 a.m. when they open.

imagesI arrive at 8:15 on Friday morning.  They’ve never heard of me.  They doubt they have a car in my class, which is not even my class anyway, since they did not have my car at the airport and I’ve already been downgraded once, when I refused to be upgraded to a gas-guzzler.

“Listen, you should have an e-mail from Tel Aviv, explaining the situation.  There should be a car here waiting for me.  You are wasting my time,” I intone.

“It’s okay, they will prepare the car.  You go upstairs, have coffee and water, and relax–.”

“Um, I really don’t want to drink coffee, I want to hit the road.  Shabbat will be beginning and I can’t sit here.”shutterstock_129577535-300x225

She promises me it will be “two minutes’.  Then a Dutch man enters, with his own tale of woe.  Apparently, they informed him that he needed to return his car and switch to another, midway through his stay.  They didn’t seem to have a car for him, either.

As his story went on and on, I stood up and strolled back over to the counter.  It had been 15 minutes.  She saw me and called to the garage and said it was ready.  I should walk to the stone wall, and go down the ramp into the underground garage.  Fine.

I walk down.  The guys look at me blankly.

“Is this my car?” I point.

HERTZREX“Where’s your car?” they ask.

“In front of your office.”

“Bring it here.”

Well, that about did it for me.

“Bring it here?  The girl just told me to walk down here.  You go and get it,” I suggested, having hiked up and down one hill too many already that day on my way to get my car and bring it to their office.

“Excuse me, but you must return it here, and then we can give you this one.”

Back up the steep ramp I walk, get the car, bring it down.  Then the guys tell me to walk back up and get the cars_picpaperwork.  When I bring them the paperwork, they will give me the key.

Back up I go, telling them a thing or two about third-world nations, get the paperwork, come back down…. and nobody is there.   All of the workers have fled.

So I go into the bowels of the parking garage, shouting out if anyone is there.  At last, one guy comes driving another car, parks that, and goes to get my key.

As I drive away, I realize that the back of my seat will not adjust.  I am driving hunched over, in excruciating pain after the first ten minutes.  I go to play a CD that I brought with me, a taped book, that seems to keep repeating Camels kneeling - Kareninformation.  Takes me about an hour to figure out that at the end of each track, it repeats the same track, rather than going on to the next.  By the time I arrive at my intended destination an hour-and-a-half away, it’s 10:30 a.m. on a Friday morning in Israel, when there’s no parking anywhere as people either finish work, shop for food, or take a half day off before Shabbat.

Rather than return back after accomplishing nothing, I do the only sensible thing, parking the car halfway up on the curb of a halfway-legal parking space.  I enjoy the rest of my day, against all odds.  Hertz can try to hurt me, but I think I’m done renting from them, at least  outside of the U.S.

Best to go with a local rental agency, and leave it at that.



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