Question from a potential customer: What can I do to protect myself from unethical conduct by car rental companies who can make any claim and charge my credit card after I am back in North America?

Answer: First of all, your credit card protects you against erroneous, improper charges. You can dispute any questionable charge and not pay it until the matter is resolved. The credit card company will require the rental company to prove the charge is correct. That usually means the rental company shows the credit card company a copy of the customer's signature on the rental contract, thereby authorizing the charge.

The suppliers Gemut.com deals with...more than 90% of our bookings are with Hertz, Avis, Europcar...are not unethical. Their employees, however, sometimes make mistakes and a tiny percentage may try to take advantage of unsuspecting and unprepared customers by selling them extra, unnecessary insurance or other services. Our customers are also protected by a voucher which establishes the charges as well as the rental's terms and conditions. In addition, if there are erroneous post-rental charges, we will deal with the supplier on the customer's behalf and obtain a refund. Of course, if the customer signs a contract at the rental counter that, for example, calls for additional insurance, that makes it a legitimate charge and no refund is possible. We urge our customers to be prepared for the European rental transaction by reading the advisory information at our Website. Download What You Should Know About Renting a Car in Europe (PDF).

Refunds for erroneous charges may be more difficult to obtain if bookings are made via off-shore online-based car rental websites and rental companies that do not maintain North American offices.