In December my cousin and I took a trip to Europe. After a little bit of planning, we realized that it would be more cost effective to rent a car than it would be to take the trains. While renting a car for almost two weeks comes with a lot of costs, it offers a lot more flexibility as far as destinations, side trips, and travel time. It also was way less stressful than the trips that I have taken where I have relied on buses and trains.
Unfortunately, I made the mistake of not strictly following the speeding laws while I was out of the country. For the most part, I stayed within speed limits and did my best to avoid breaking traffic laws. At a few points, I was a little loose with the speed of the car, especially after driving on the Autobahn in Germany.
After arriving home, I started to see charges from the rental company on my credit card. Each was for around $30-35, and all were unanticipated. Needless to say, I started freaking out. Soon after, I started getting expedited letters in the mail from the car rental company. I thought that these letters were the charges for the speeding tickets and I was upset that I had received the tickets, but glad that each charge was under $40.
Then I got an actual ticket in the mail. I only received one physical ticket from the Netherlands, for a charge of 394 euros. I also received a letter in the mail from Germany stating that I had broken the law but that the government had decided not to prosecute.
Both of these tickets came in different languages (Dutch and German) so I had to rely on friends to translate for me. I still haven’t gotten a full translation of the German letter so if anyone can help with that, I would appreciate it.
A lot of people have asked me how I managed to break the speed limit on the Autobahn considering that the Autobahn has no speed limits. Unfortunately, the Autobahn has speed limits in construction zones. My cousin and I had missed a turn and we were trying to figure out how to get back onto the correct highway. While we were discussing it we neared a city that had construction, and the speed limit dropped to 140km/hr. We were not going insanely fast because there was traffic, but we were probably close to 160. We did notice the red light from the camera go off and we were both super pissed/stressed.
I am not 100% sure when I got the tickets in the Netherlands. It appears that it was the morning that we dropped the car off. I don’t know if it happened while we were driving to Amsterdam or while we were filling up for gas at the airport. Regardless, I was 38km over the speed limit which is equal to 23mph over. This makes sense, but is still super frustrating.
I decided to appeal the tickets and charges to both the rental car company and the Netherlands government. I changed my credit card number so that the rental car company would stop charging me and I sent them an email stating that I did not agree with them charging me an average of $35 four times to send me one ticket and one warning letter. The response was: You owe us for the charges that did not process and we will not refund any of the money to you. I then appealed the charges to my credit card and showed that I had been charged multiples times for two actual offenses, and they refunded the charges. I did get recharged for one of the transactions but in the end I only ended up paying one out of four.
I wrote up a nice letter for the Netherlands and had my darling friend Kim translate it into Dutch. I sent the letter in February and received a response at the beginning of May. I can’t read the letter but I can clearly see that the charges have not been waived and I owe the Netherlands 396 euros. Fortunately the due date isn’t for a few weeks, so I am going to wait until after the French election next week in case the Euro ends up crashing.
The lesson of all this? Renting a car while traveling is great. Just make damn well sure that you know the traffic rules and that you don’t break the speed limit!!