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Avoid Europcar car rental

Vaclav

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  • Added on: October 19th, 2014
Hi. Recently we have rented a Europcar car for our month holiday in Australia at Sydney airport. Car was OK and served us well and we had returned it without any damage. Yet, that nice Australian branch of Europcar still considered it good idea to peel some extra money from us (fortunately not so much - but them being too greedy could have alarmed my bank) and charged us for special cleaning of the car interior - allegedly it was stained. I am not sure if there were any stains inside - we did not checked when getting the car in that dark cellar parking but I seem to recall that the car was not exactly clean. But what I do know for sure: we did not add any extra stains to the car seat covers and they provided no evidence there were any stains.

In any case, the whole think looked as a premeditated scam. So, next time I would go for some other company - hopefully this is not a common habit in Australia. I do not have any problem like that before when renting cats in the U.S.A., Europe, or Japan.

Good luck.

Mark Grogan

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  • Added on: October 21st, 2014
Sorry to hear about your bad experience mate. This is why it is so important to take photos of everything when you rent a car. Just make sure you keep the photos in storage somewhere safe so you can ask the car loan company to point out exactly what it is they think that you should be paying for. Businesses just shouldn't be doing this kind of thing to innocent customers and we must learn to fight back!

Vaclav

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  • Added on: October 22nd, 2014
Hi Mark, thanks for your sympathy. In general I agree it is good to check everything and document it by photos. It would certainly help if you deal with a reputable car rental company but it will make no difference if you come across a larcenous outfit such as the Europcar Australia, unless you want to go to litigation with them (they made sure not to take so much to press me to do it). I have repeatedly asked them to provide any evidence, namely photographic supporting my dispute to their clain but they have never bothered. The only "evidence" they provided was a copy of simple letter anybody can fake, which was supposed to prove that they had the car cleaned. Also, I do not believe you can ever check, find, and document just everything.

You know, car rental companies can always get you this way if they want (they can always say they found something at the car undercarriage or elsewhere) as the agreement about them using your credit card to draw the fees entitles them to get the money without your previous authorization (they are not supposed to do it but there is no protection against it). The whole car rental business is based on a "gentleman agreement" that they do not charge unjustified charges, otherwise it just cannot work. So whenever you use a rental car you are actually risking this kind of problems - no matter what you do, I am afraid.

On the other hand, this was the first time I had the problem of this kind during my rentals done mostly in the U.S.A., but also in Japan and Europe; in Europe I had even rented a car from Europcar and everything was fine. I believe it is more about local manners - while this kind of scam is quite known from southern Europe (like Italy or Greece) I did not expect it to experience it in Australia. Yet, in fact it was also an insufficient preparation on my side - I have checked now and seen e.g. this info http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g255103-i531-k2779978-Avoid_Europcar_Car_Rental-Perth_Greater_Perth_Western_Australia.html, so I can actually feel lucky not to be robbed much more. To my excuse I have made my choice by using the search engine of the rentalcars.com and at that time they revealed what company you are chosing only when you paid a booking deposit, so I did not know who I am booking with (actually, I have now noticed that rentalcars.com have just changed their policy and now you can see the name of the rental company at the list of offers you get - good change for us all !!).

Good luck to everybody in this mine field ....

Vaclav

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  • Added on: March 27th, 2015
Let me post an additional "reply" to my original post. The reason I am posting this follow-up is that after some effort I have succeeded to have the money returned to my credit card and so I believe my experience may be of some use for other people treated to the same malevolent attempt. Here is what I did and what was the outcome:

1. I send an email to the Europcar Australia customer relations (their mail was given in the original e-mail claim of extra charges) where I refused their claim and asked for any proof of the damage and the expenses for cleaning. At first I got just automatic email reply of them receiving my mail.

2. In the same time I disputed the charge on my credit card at my bank which issued the card. The bank later asked for some documentation of the case which we provided.

3. After some time I have got a letter (by postal service) from the Europcar Australia, which more or less just elaborated on the same claim, provided no evidence of the alleged stains in the car interior, and documented the expenses for the cleaning of the car by a photocopy of an invoicing letter (which anybody could create it on his computer). I have sent another email to the Europcar Australia customer relations, once again refused their claim and asked them to ether return the money or provide any evidence of the damage and the expenses. This time I finally got their e-mail reply stating that they would "not consider refunding the fee" to me - no proofs, no nothing.

4. I send an email to the Europcar headquarters in France describing my experience with their Australian branch and asking for their assistance. The only reply I got was just an automatic email reply of them receiving my mail.

5. My bank informed me that they could not do anything for me as the Europcar car rental had "the right to charge me for additional expenses for car rental" according to the Mastecard rules.

6. I sent another complaint to my bank, stating that the Europcar car rental had that right indeed granted on condition that they could somehow prove that (i) the given damage was indeed done, and (ii) the given remedy action had been indeed taken and cost as charged to may card. My bank somehow reluctantly agreed to resume their effort to gat the money back.

7. About twice I got information from my bank that they had to extend the deadline for resolving the issue but in the end (after about two and half months) I received the information that the Australian bank asked their customer, the Europcar Australia, to prove "how the car was stained" and as the Europcar Australia could not prove that, the Australian bank returned the disputed money back to my card. :D

So, as you can see, we are not so hopeless after all. One just need to be sufficiently stubborn and ask them to provide the proof for their claim.

Good luck to all similarly affected … Vaclav



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