I thought I would create a new thread on this topic since the Italians are apprarently still at it with their hard-to-see warning signs and hidden traffic cameras. For those of you who don't know, some Italian cities have restricted traffic zones and if you enter them during certain hours of the day -- even if you're lost or looking for your hotel -- your rental car is photographed and you are considered to have violated a traffic law, even if you never see a cop and never see a ticket on your car. Several months after the alleged infraction, the rental car company you used adds a service charge -- usually around $35-$50 -- to your credit card account without any notice. Some people mistakenly think this is the traffic fine itself, but it is actually the rental company charging YOU for it to give up your name and address to the Italian police. Up to a year after that time, you might receive one or more notices of a fine in the mail directly from the Italian city's police. From what I have read, the fines are about $150-$200 for each infraction and the cameras can apparently snap every four minutes. This is a disgusting treatment of tourists in an otherwise wonderful and hospitable country. (You would think the politicians in Pisa would spend their time cleaning up the filthy and tacky souvenir area across from the tower instead of preying on innocent tourists.)
I just received one of the service charge notices from Hertz after being totally unaware that I had done anything wrong and being very careful to park legally in Pisa. Here is my advice, based on what I have read in various online forums and sites:
1. Dispute the service charge on your credit card account. While the rental agreement says you are liable for traffic fines, you did not authorize the service charge. I got it immediately removed, no questions asked, thanks to American Express. Because of Hertz' complicity in this scam, I will encourage all my friends and business acquaintances to use other car rental companies in the future. Fight these charges tooth and nail.
2. If you were going to your hotel when the photo was taken and have received a notice of a fine directly from the police, you can contact the hotel and ask them to advise the police that you were traveling to your lodging. This is apparently one way to erase the fine.
3. Do you pay the fine? Well, that's up to you. I would pay if I felt I did something wrong. But I can tell you that if and when I get my notice, I'm going to do what a lot of other innocent Americans do -- ignore it. How do you say "Not one thin dime" in Italian?