You and your friend appear to have experienced the “sign-here” scam. That’s when someone slides a contract – and more recently, an electronic pad – in front of you and asks you to initial or sign it.
Two ingredients are essential to the scam. First, you have to be made to feel rushed, which is pretty easy when there’s a line of other customers behind you. And second, you have to receive verbal assurances that your signature is just a “formality.”
Was this a scam? I don’t know, because I wasn’t there when you rented your vehicle. But I’ve heard your story before, and I know car rental agents are rewarded for “upselling” customers like you on optional, and highly profitable, insurance. At the very least, this was a misunderstanding.
It’s not unusual for a rental agent to ask for a credit card. Car rental companies need a valid card, just in case a customer damages a car. Think of it this way: They’re handing you the keys to a $30,000 automobile. They need some assurances that you’ll bring it back in one piece. The credit card imprint does that.
You should have read the contract. I know you probably realize that now, but it merits repeating. Read the contract. Had you done that, you would have noticed that your friend was signing for optional insurance. You could have fixed the problem then and there.
Once you saw the charges, you should have written to Avis, not called. Why? Because you’re creating a necessary paper trail so that, in the unlikely event you need to forward this to the Texas insurance commissioner, you would be able to prove that you went through all the correct channels to get this resolved. I know it’s difficult. When you see a bogus charge on your credit card, you want a resolution yesterday. But patience can be a powerful and effective tool to get this kind of car trouble fixed.
I contacted Avis on your behalf, and it has offered you a full refund.