Traveller letters: Is rental car 'damage' just a scam?

DAMAGE CONTROL

In response to Ed Niedziela's letter (Traveller letters, February 1) I rented a car at Gold Coast Airport last August. On return, they told me there was a chip in the screen – it was so small it didn't show on the photos I took. The check in guy went straight to it, as if he had done this before – I wonder if that chip in the screen is still there? They said it was repairable and estimated $37 – a replacement was $180 and that was added to my bill and the maximum charge of $775 would be placed on my card once the repair was complete and I had received a summary and copy of the repair bill. 

Then, without any further correspondence a charge of $962 appeared on September 5. My credit card provider, Amex, took control for me and they received a copy of a bill from the rental company that was incorrect, showing  they had charged me for a further seven days rental, as well as a replacement screen. After sending Amex my receipts, they credited everything back to the original booking cost. 

Nearly five months later, I received a call from the rental company's Melbourne office advising that I still owed them money, claiming that I returned the vehicle back on September 5. I have sent them my receipts again and am unsure what their next step is. Gold Coast Airport seems to be a bad place to rent vehicles from any provider.

Eddie Fazal, Millers Point, NSW

PAST GLORIES

Shortly before the war began, I travelled independently with my daughter all over Syria from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates, Hama, Krak des Chevaliers, Apamea, Aleppo, Serjilla in between and to Palmyra [pictured before its destruction], to Bosra in the south and back to Damascus.

The ancient sites were awe-inspiring, even in the abandoned "dead cities", the hospitality of the people was boundless and the food delicious. In Damascus, we rounded a corner and almost bumped into a trio of happy children, one of whom was dressed in a Santa hat and beard and ringing a bell.

How I wonder now what has happened to them; I'm overwhelmed by sadness at the destruction and ruin of this wonderful country and its people. My message is to travel while you can. You never know what will befall that country you've always wanted to visit.

Maureen Brew, Hornsby Heights, NSW

USER PAYS

Andrew Traill (Traveller letters, February 8), needs to accept that if we travellers want clean, available toilets, sometimes, just sometimes, as he pointed out, we have to pay. Having just returned from a six week European trip, I sometimes had to fork out a euro for the use of the toilet in a railway station. But there were also many times when I didn't, so it all balances out in the end.

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Choosing to walk 45 minutes from the Como Railway Station to his hotel rather than pay a euro to use the toilet sounds a wee bit precious. There is no point taking up too much of the moral high ground, just appreciate it when you do get to use toilets for free, and enjoy the trip. After all, that's why you travel, isn't it, to go beyond the familiar!

Nunu Bisogni, Northcote, VIC

SIX DEGREES OF EXPIRATION

It is common knowledge that many countries require travellers have six months months validity on their passports on arrival (Traveller letters, February 15). Some also require six months' validity on the date planned for departure from their borders. I believe it is our responsibility to check entry requirements. 

Sriyani Perera, Southbank, VIC

PUTTING A FOOT IN IT

After a "sample" mini-cruise on Queen Elizabeth last February, we booked a cruise around New Zealand for this past January to celebrate our 40th anniversary. In the interim, an accident led to a broken foot with resultant surgery. After some debate, we decided to go ahead, buying a knee scooter, to help navigate the ship.

Our excellent travel agent (RACV) had apparent confirmation that taking it was okay. But, just before we embarked, Cunard said I should have booked a disabled room. Clairvoyance would have been a useful skill. I tried in vain to explain that it folded away and the difficulties we would face without it, but apparently a "very new policy" forbade it. The "Queens" attract many mature folk like us and their lack of consideration on this issue was extremely disappointing!

Suzanne Katz, Canterbury, VIC

NAMING RITES

I'm wondering if Richard Mason (Traveller letters, February 1) could be encouraged to part with names of the Airbnb properties in New Zealand he raved about? I am sure many readers would appreciate accommodation tips for a beautiful part of the world on our doorstep.

Sidra Eldridge, Glen Iris, VIC

ACCESS UNLIMITED

I endorse Michael Lee's plea in his letter, "Enable the disabled" (Traveller letters, February 15). Travelling with anyone who needs simple accommodations such as regular access to toilets or showers without steps requires hours of research. Hotels use inconsistent definitions for accessible rooms. Recently we have had much better experiences with Airbnb with truthful responses and some great accessible stays. We looked into Scenic river cruises but they did not welcome wheelchairs. Please; more websites for accessible travel and a better informed tourism industry.

Hilary Johnson, Northcote, VIC

VIVA LA DIFFERENCE

Brian Johnston's cover story on the benefits of escorted travel (Traveller letters, February 15) is a little sad. Brian's promise of the freedoms on offer through organised touring eliminates some of the things that make travel so interesting. I don't want to be liberated from developing itineraries, researching routes and accommodation, exploring and mastering a city's public transport, hunting down agreeable food and drink, lingering in that museum or deciding to stay another day.

Steve James, Fairfield, VIC

WONDER LAND

Your article in Traveller on Slovenia (Traveller, February 15) was a wonderful reminder of my experience travelling extensively throughout the country. It is indeed a magnificent place and well worth a visit. However, the main photo in the story was incorrectly identified as Ljubljana. It is in fact the stunning Lake Bled. I highly recommend your readers consider this country on their itinerary.

Ann Hoy, Moss Vale, NSW

EDITOR'S NOTE We regret the photo caption error. The online version of the article has been corrected.

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