Monday, February 01, 2010

Warning for Americans travelling overseas: Don't hire a car from Europcar. They are predators who will rip off your credit card when it is too late for you to do much about it

Four customer reports below, one from Britain and three from Australia. The first from Australia:

Last year I rented a car from Europcar's depot at Coolangatta Airport. Four days later I returned the car and it was inspected: "No problems. Have a good flight."

Europcar's "courtesy call" on my message bank awaited me at Sydney Airport and stated that my credit card would be charged for damage to the car's rear. I made a furious call and learned that the damage was detected during washing. I demanded photos, which duly arrived, with the advice my card had been debited $381.25.

The photos revealed a minuscule black mark to a car I hadn't rented. Given only 86 minutes between inspection and billing, no time was wasted in washing the vehicle, detecting and assessing the alleged damage, obtaining and approving a written quotation and then authorising and debiting my card.

I sent a number of letters, including one from my solicitor, to Europcar. When Europcar caved in, insult was added to injury by its company secretary advising "that Europcar's decision to reimburse the amount was made purely as a goodwill gesture".

- Mel Bloom

Fuel for thought

Following a recent trip to Britain, I arrived home to find an additional charge on my credit card of $1500 from Europcar.

The car we were allocated at the Fulham Broadway branch had a broken key bound up with tape.

On expressing my concern, I was informed that this car was the only one available and the key was working. I also noticed some glue residue on the fuel cap and was informed "it's nothing to worry about".

As it turned out the missing tag and sticker from the fuel cap said "diesel only". Not realising these omissions I filled up with petrol and broke down at night in the Yorkshire Dales.

After appealing to Europcar about the charge I was informed "that it is the customer's responsibility to check what type of fuel the vehicle requires prior to refuelling and, as in this case, when this has not been made clear on the key or fuel cap, it would be deemed especially necessary to clarify this".

- Janet Reynolds

Car scrape

I read Mel Bloom's experiences with Europcar Coolangatta where he was charged $381.25 for minuscule damage to a car that was not even the one he had rented. I had a similar experience with Europcar at Launceston Airport last year.

A "courtesy call" to my message bank awaited my return to Brisbane and said my credit card would be charged $260.23 for a scrape on the front guard. This "scrape" was invisible to me in the photos but there were pre-existing scrapes, scratches and chipped areas, some rusty.

I said I would seek the car's hire records for a history of others subjected to similar treatment. Fortunately, the photos also showed a front tyre lacking sufficient tread; reason enough to have the matter resolved in my favour.

- Chris Longden

Rental quarrel

I, too, had a similar experience as Mel Bloom (Traveller, January 9) when I hired a car for four days from Europcar at Launceston Airport in 2005.

I returned the car washed and undamaged except for scratches already indicated on the signed condition report. It was Sunday morning and the Europcar counter was unattended so I deposited the key in the key slot at 9.30am.

Two days later I received a letter from Europcar advising it had debited my credit card $356.30 for damage to the front tyre, wheel trim, bumper and guard. It provided undated photos of the damage but no photograph of the entire vehicle.

The charge had been made to my credit card at 9.52am, so in the space of 22 minutes the company had supposedly checked the car and obtained quotes.

The quotes I asked for and received were not dated, so I phoned the two businesses named on the quotes and they told me they didn't open on Sundays. When I challenged Europcar it said the quotes were guesstimates. I phoned my credit-card provider for advice and it took on the case. After three months the $356.30 was credited to my card. The lesson: ensure a company representative checks the car with you when you return it.

- Lynda Simpson

SOURCE REPORT 1. SOURCE REPORT 2. (Via Australian Politics)

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE

No comments: