Car rental scam -BEWARE

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07 Oct 2017 11:22 by Artistsana Star rating. 1 posts Send private message

Last April I traveled to Spain and rented a vehicle from InterRent. On arrival to Valencia Airport, the attendants at the office were professional but rather insistent that we should take the additional insurance and other services. I understand they’ve been trained and instructed to upsell on the pre-booked rental. Due to having had a bad experience (with a different and less reputable company), I refused to purchase this additional insurance.

The visit went well and at the end of the stay, on 5th May we returned the car at the correct time and left it in the same parking space as from where we had collected it on our arrival. Your employee mentioned I should have parked it in a different bay (within a few metres from where I had parked it, but said it didn’t matter as he would move it himself later on), he then checked it thoroughly inside and outside, above and below, wrote the mileage and verified I had filled the car up with fuel as agreed.

He told me everything was correct. I asked if I had to sign any paperwork or anything, and he replied ‘no, that’s fine’ and wished me a good flight back home. I was impressed by his professionalism and friendliness. He showed me he had written the mileage and ticked the 'tank full' box in his form. The accident/damage section was left empty as there was nothing to report and I didn't sign it because there was nothing to sign. 

I was therefore unpleasantly surprised when back in August, 4 months after I came back, I received a letter in which I’m accused of having inflicted damage to the car. Also enclosed with this letter where photographs of a car with some scuffs and scratches. These photographs show no date and could have been taken at any time.

In the copy of the form I had witnessed, someone had added 'scuffs and scratches' to the damages section, and 'the customer refused to sign accident form' in the 'comments' section. I was incensed!

All I know is that we had an uneventful driving experience and this damage wasn’t caused whilst your vehicle was under our care. They threatened to take hundreds of Euros from my credit card, as they had kept the details. They subsequently took that money, which was refunded back to me by my card provider and it's now on their hands to claim it back from these scammers. So the end of the story is still uncertain.

It has and still is causing me a great deal of worry and I'm very angry for them to have even tried to scam me in this way. Most disappointing and unprofessional.

I have researched on customer feedback/car hire forums online and there seems to be a lot of issues with car hire companies in Spain, things like members of staff being incentivised to ‘find’ scuffs and damage in cars, the same damaged being blamed on different customers, and a catalogue of fraudulent activities.

I now feel I can't trust any car hire company and will be taking lots of photos before and after hiring any car, specially in Spain.

Has anyone been in a similar situation? Any advice, other than contacting a solicitor and sending copies of my correspondence to the European Car Hire Regulator? 

Thank you - and be vigilant. 





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07 Oct 2017 12:20 by windtalker Star rating. 1204 posts Send private message

Report your credit card lost ..and request new number's ..next time you hire car go on the Internet and get a car hire excess policy it will cost you around £40 .00 and will last one year ...for as many hires you make ...the company I use is Questor ins good luck.

 


This message was last edited by windtalker on 07/10/2017.



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07 Oct 2017 13:56 by steone Star rating in Santiago de la Riber.... 387 posts Send private message

As a simple rule of thumb whenever I hire a car, anywhere in the world, I use my mobile and video the car on my pre-collection inspection and also check if there is a spare tyre and its inflated. Any problem is then reported to the desk. On return I also do a walk round video and try and make certain the staff see me doing it. Since doing this I have never had any problems!!! I can tell many horror stories of friends who have been conned by car rentals but because of my 'caution' I have got away without being conned, so far.

With regard to the excess insurance make certain that it includes wheels, tyres, glass, undercarriage etc. Most do but not all. The one I use also covers misfueling which I had to use last year.

I was in England and the AA were called out as the rental included it. The AA man said that if I wasn't a member then the cost would have been about £270. However as soon as I returned the car I was given a receipt for a removal of £485 for the 'cost' of the misfueling from my credit card!!! The guys at the airport said 'nothing to with me mate, thats head office'. Needless to say a simple sharp letter to the head office got an apology and immediate return of my money.

As said before always expect the worst, do your own diligence and pictures/videos and you should not be caught.

 


This message was last edited by steone on 07/10/2017.

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07 Oct 2017 20:46 by DuncanThickett Star rating. 55 posts Send private message

Who is ‘’European Car Hire Regulator?’’

It would also be interesting to hear what is the general response when cardholders complain to their credit card companies about Spanish car hire companies thieving money from them.

 

 

 


This message was last edited by DuncanThickett on 07/10/2017.

_______________________
Justice? - You get justice in the next world. In this one you have the law.



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08 Oct 2017 17:27 by GuyT Star rating. 449 posts Send private message

When returning a rental car ALWAYS get someone to write and signature  "No damage, Full tank" on your copy of the paperwork.





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08 Oct 2017 18:30 by healthyannie Star rating in Teulada. 21 posts Send private message

healthyannie´s avatar

Mmmmm... four months.... That simply does not make sense. Do you still have the agreement handy? If you are not happy you can contact the Spanish Trading Standards, and I think that you should ( you can fax your complaint through in English if you like, or email to them) Tell InterRent that you are getting in touch with them. You be surprised how many complaints "go away with the mere mention of Trading Standards.

To be honest, this sounds a bit "dodgy" to me, and I am sure there is a period which the company must contact you within a certain amount of time. The photos should be dated and a full engineer's report should be included.  I always take photos with my phone and make sure they are dated, and I am sure you will do so in the future. However, many car rental companies do try it on. Don't forget, that your holiday insurance should also have had legal protection, and having annual holiday insurance which include a legal liability is a good thing. But, if you paid for the car rental using your credit card, you should have some sort of protection. 

Get in touch if you would like.Annie



_______________________
Healthy Annie www.healthinspain.net



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08 Oct 2017 20:44 by DuncanThickett Star rating. 55 posts Send private message

healthyannie are you suggesting the OP is fabricating this story?

Not sure about trading standards, how about the police. If what the OP says is true, and we’ve all heard it many times before, this sort of thing is no different to ‘’handbag snatching & burglary’’ it’s outright thieving. It’s about time someone in authority did something about this repeated mafia type activity. About time the government regulated this lot.
 


This message was last edited by DuncanThickett on 09/10/2017.

_______________________
Justice? - You get justice in the next world. In this one you have the law.



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09 Oct 2017 10:15 by acer Star rating. 1049 posts Send private message

I've hired from Centauro for many years without any problem whatsover.  In recent years I've opted to have my own motor here, but I've recommended them to visiting family and friends, equally without any issues. Europcar has also been used with equally good experience. 

Therefore the suggestion that ..."About time the government regulated this lot... is misplaced and unfair to the majority of car hirers and probably just add more delay and paperwork to the process.

The action that is needed is a more robust response from hirers towards these cheats.  It's simple to clawback any monies taken by credit card.  Given the circumstances outlined by the OP this should be a formality.

But yes reporting them to Spanish Trading Standards also is good.  If their name is mentioned a few times by different people this might provoke some serious action.

 





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10 Oct 2017 01:06 by westport Star rating in London & Co.Mayo Ire.... 509 posts Send private message

Artistsana. Your first 3 paragraphs are almost identical to what happened to me when I rented with InterRent this Summer at Malaga Airport. As I already had an excess hire policy, the guy at the desk spent 20 minutes trying to sell me every type of excess policy under the sun. It's a wonder he didn't try to sell me his wife. There was every sort of threat, for example, if the car breaks down you have to pay over €300 for recovery. I said you can't be very confident of the standard of the car if you are telling me that. There was also another charge if the car was not brought back spotlessly clean. Before I left the airport, I took at least 20-30 close up photos of the car. When I dropped the car back to the airport, clean and full of petrol, a girl with a clipboard came over, checked it, then said ok, gave me the paperwork, and said hand it in at the office. I gave it to the guy and he came out and said I had damaged the car. I know for a fact I had not damaged it. He said sorry, you will have to pay with the excess over €1,000. To put it lightly, I said you can go F yourself., I have proof I did not do it, so he asked how? I then showed him the photos of that damage before I picked up the car. He then changed his tune. They will try every trick in the book to scam you. My advice, take closeup clear photos of ALL of the car before you leave, and when you drop it off.

Acer

I had a run in many years ago with Centauro where they scammed me for €150 for a so called broken radio that I did not break. When I collected the car, the radio was already on, but we were unable to turn it off. They refused to refund the money that they took off my card. I'm not one to lie down and give in when I know I am not in the wrong. I done lots of research on the web and found they were up to these tricks with many people. I went all the way up to the Spanish Consulate in London with my complaints until something was done about this company. Eventually they were removed from Malaga Airport :) Well worth my €150. Maybe you have just got lucky with them, or they may have changed their ways just to try and worm their way back into the airports again.

 





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10 Oct 2017 07:28 by mib150 Star rating in Corvera / Yorkshire. 90 posts Send private message

I do not think these 'scams' are limited to a single company.

I'm not sure if these operations are franchises? You get good reports of the company at one airport and bad at another.

I also found to my cost that the excess policies you buy for around £40 are not exactly great. I was unlucky to received a scrape down the side of a hire car (one which would've gone with a bit if T-cut and 5 minutes of elbow grease!). I received a charge of £400 for this damage.

When I returned home I completed my claim, but only received £270 back as they do not pay the administration charges (it's in the fine print! 😡)





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10 Oct 2017 11:08 by ads Star rating. 3071 posts Send private message

European Commission - Press release

Car rental companies improve treatment of consumers, thanks to EU-wide enforcement

Brussels, 19 January 2017

Did you ever book a car online and find out you had to pay more when you get to the rental desk?

Did you ever book a car online and find out you had to pay more when you get to the rental desk? Last year, this was the case of 2,000 consumers in Europe, who reported these issues to the European Consumer Centres, which help consumers when they travel or buy cross border.

Following a strong increase of the number of complaints on car rental issues, the European Commission and national consumer authorities engaged with the five leading car rental companies to address these issues.

Today, the authorities decided to conclude this phase of the enforcement cooperation. They are satisfied with the changes brought by the five industry leaders, Avis, Europcar, Enterprise, Hertz and Sixt, to their commercial practices, which now comply with EU consumer rules. The EU trade association, Leaseurope, which helped set up the action from the industry side, is also developing further their guidelines for the whole car rental sector.

Věra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality said: "Today is a great day for European consumers. We worked hard with the car rental companies to guarantee that people across the EU can rent a car and are treated fairly – no matter where in the EU they rent a car. I thank the national consumer authorities for their excellent work and the car rental companies for their cooperation. Consumers across Europe can now enjoy their rights and be better protected." 

Thanks to this dialogue with national consumer authorities, facilitated by the European Commission under the lead of the UK Competition and Markets Authority, consumers will benefit from the following conditions:

  • The total booking price includes all unavoidable charges. For example, when winter tyres are compulsory by law in some countries, the price will include these in the headline price.
  • Key rental services description in plain language. Consumers will be provided with clear information about the main characteristics of the rental (mileage included, fuel policy, cancellation policy, deposit requirements, etc.).
  • Information on additional insurance is clear. Consumers will be provided with the price and details of optional extras, in particular for insurance waivers that reduce the franchise to be paid in case of damage. What is covered by the waiver in the basic rental price and in any additional insurance must be clearly indicated before the consumer buys such products.
  • Transparent fuel policies. Consumers will be always given the option to get the car with a full tank and bring it back full.

When it comes to damages:

  • Clear procedure for vehicle inspection. Consumers will be provided with reasons and evidence of any damage, before the payment is taken.
  • Fair damage handling processes. The consumer is given the chance to challenge any damage before the payment is taken.

Next steps

The European Commission and national consumer authorities will continue to monitor the car rental market closely. The Commission will focus particularly on the practices of other market players, such as intermediaries and other car rental companies. All players should offer the same level of transparency on the service and the cost. 

Background

The Commission, European consumer authorities and the five major car rental companies - representing two out of three of all private car rentals in the EU - started a dialogue in 2014 after the European Consumer Centres received a large number of complaints from tourists across the EU (see IP/15/5334).The five major car rental companies Avis, Europcar, Enterprise, Hertz and Sixt have now changed and improved their commercial practices, contract terms and internal policies within this dialogue and implementation of the changes is now completed.

The number of complaints for the car rental sector doubled between 2010 and 2016, while the overall number of complaints received by ECCs only increased by two thirds. There were about 1,050 cases in 2012, 1,750 in 2014, and more than 2,000 in 2016. This evidence of widespread problematic practices in car rental seen by ECCs led the European Commission to ask the national enforcement authorities, under the lead of the UK Competition and Markets Authority, to act jointly at EU level to require the car rental industry to better comply with EU consumer legislation.

The EU Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC) Regulation brings together national consumer authorities in a pan-European enforcement network, through which a national authority in one EU country can call on its counterparts in other EU country to coordinate the response to widespread consumer issues. The European Commission facilitates this work.

http://www.aecosan.msssi.gob.es/AECOSAN/web/consumo/subseccion/contacta_c.htm

Perhaps best to threaten these companies continuing with this abusive practice of the above, and take action to report them, plus tell them you will be spreading the word to use other companies that are complying with the new regulation.

 

 


This message was last edited by ads on 10/10/2017.


This message was last edited by ads on 10/10/2017.



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10 Oct 2017 11:32 by acer Star rating. 1049 posts Send private message

Westport, thanks for your comment - I agree that we should be prepared to fight our corner more readily.  As a generalism I think we give in too easily - lots of folk will have a good moan and then allow themselves to be shafted.

My comment really was directed against Duncan Thickett's suggestion of government regulation.  In my experience this tends to just increase the number of public sector/civil servants who in the main I've found a waste of space.  One of my biggest disputes I've had was with one of the big banks.  They repeatedly directed me towards the FOS, but I refused and demanded they deal with the matter and eventually achieved a successful conclusion.

Having said that I reckon the FOS are more effective than most. 

The worst in my experience is the Property sector where Property Managers, Estate Agents etc can chose their regulator!  That means they pay their fee to the choice of 3 - unsurprisingly this makes these people something less than completely impartial.  Totally absurd.  Ofcom are a close second as the most useless.

The FSA/FCA are similarly daft organisations.  They make the simplest transaction unbelievably complex with excessive volumes of "fact finds" and disclosures which are invariablly a complete waste of time and just add to the reduction in the rain forest.  You cannot obtain simple advice on financial matters these days due to their daft rules.

Sorry a bit of a rant - the comment touched a nerve!





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10 Oct 2017 12:05 by ads Star rating. 3071 posts Send private message

Here's the details of consumer centres to contact.

http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/solving_consumer_disputes/non-judicial_redress/ecc-net/index_en.htm

Acer, your comments are worth forwarding to your MEP so make them earn their keep and demand they follow through on your observations. Only when people such as yourself follow through to bring this absurd complexity to their attention will things ever change. 

 


This message was last edited by ads on 10/10/2017.



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10 Oct 2017 15:52 by healthyannie Star rating in Teulada. 21 posts Send private message

healthyannie´s avatar

No, I am not suggesting the author of the post is fabricating the post. Today, I have spoken to the Spanish Trading Standards about this issue. It should be reported to Trading Standards, and an inspector from the Trading Standards will visit the office. They already have many complaints against car hire companies, and they do take this seriously. Many of the  rental offices are operated on a franchise basis, and this makes the matter more complicated. Like the lady from the Trading Standards said, why did it take them such a long time to deal with the matter. How many times have the car been rented out since? It simply does not make sense. If there are enough complaints, franchise operations lose their license to operate, or they are removed from operating in locations such as airports. Trading standards in Spain has got some serious clout, and the local office was great when they found out I had bought a clocked car from a dealer. They even took the company to court and we won the case. As a matter of fact, they traced every car the company had sold in the last year, and checked them out as well. Try them for problems with vehicle servicing as well. 

 

In the rental contract, it will have a time limit on how long the company has to file a complaint or damage report against the vehicle user. Part of the answer is in the contract even if the rental was contracted online. It is not a police matter, as a crime has not been committed. It it is a breach of contract, the credit card company's legal department will solve the matter.



_______________________
Healthy Annie www.healthinspain.net



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11 Oct 2017 13:22 by ads Star rating. 3071 posts Send private message

Is this who you contacted healhtyannie, or do you have other contact details for EOS members who wish to report a complaint?

http://www.ukecc-services.net/contact.cfm





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13 Oct 2017 07:48 by acer Star rating. 1049 posts Send private message

Acer, your comments are worth forwarding to your MEP so make them earn their keep and demand they follow through on your observations. Only when people such as yourself follow through to bring this absurd complexity to their attention will things ever change. 

ads, I know your comment was well intended, but I have to say that the policitians I've approached over the years have been useless.  In my mind they are part of the problem.  None of them seem prepared to buck the system which seems largely in place to protect the status quo.

One of the UK's biggest legal scams is solicitors fees.  Whilst I admit that conveyancing fees are now competitive there seems to be a market agreement that all other aspects of legal work shall remain sacrosanct.  A rate of £300 per hour for a litigation lawyer is not uncommon.  What's more this is abused - you can never get a solicitor to give you the bottom line.  They want to waffle away telling you the blindingly obvious bits whilst their fee is growing nicely.

This means that justice is often out of reach of most people.  But the politicians have done nothing to make legal advice more readily available, quite the reverse.  Many have a legal background and have a vested interest in not doing so, plus the power of the legal lobby.  Someone might say "try the CAB" - I have and found the level of advice is lightweight, invariably you receive the advice of "you should consult a solicitor" after 30 seconds or so.

A few years ago I started the process of working for the CAB as a volunteer, which is the status of a large proportion of their workforce.  But I was put-off by the bureaucratic culture encountered.  Good, well meaning people, but a lack of technical depth and their focus seemed to be on the intricacies of the UK benefits system to a small section of the community, rather than living up to their name.

Another rant from me - perhaps it's time I retired.





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13 Oct 2017 08:48 by DuncanThickett Star rating. 55 posts Send private message

Ads, a bit off thread but I fully agree. Last week I got a bill from a lawyer 300 euro over quoted price ‘’no explanation why’’  plus 108 euro for disbursements. What the hell is disbursements? Postage stamps, envelopes, toilet rolls? Imagine ringing a plumber ‘’Yes sir it’s 30 euro call out charge’’ then it turns out to be 30 euro plus disbursements ‘’5 euro for petrol’’.

Another rant from both of us  - perhaps it's time we both retired.



_______________________
Justice? - You get justice in the next world. In this one you have the law.



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14 Oct 2017 11:10 by ads Star rating. 3071 posts Send private message

Acer

I completely relate to your frustrations, but until regulatory structures are in place and properly enforced then it becomes even more essential to put complaints on record to act as evidence of non compliance or identify  loopholes in the system.

To "give up" on the monitoring process in place to protect only magnifies the problem. Only when these credible realities are consistently reported AT THE HIGHEST LEVEL ( for instance in the EU to Vera Jourova the justice minister, or in the country of origin to their relevant "highest level"" minister) will there ever be reform and greater accountability.

The problem for all too many is that the consumer is not clearly advised, properly educated, as to who and how to contact these regulatory bodies with their "credible" evidence of complaints. This, together with timeframes, should be clearly marked ( not hidden in small print) on all hire contracts should it not?

Vera Jourova contact details

vera-jourova-contact@ec.europa.eu


This message was last edited by ads on 14/10/2017.



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14 Oct 2017 17:17 by healthyannie Star rating in Teulada. 21 posts Send private message

healthyannie´s avatar

Hi

I contacted the Trading Standards in Spain which have a bit more "bite" than the UK Trading Standards. The link is here:

http://www.oficinadelconsumidor.org/



_______________________
Healthy Annie www.healthinspain.net



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