It’s the nightmare scenario. You’re returning a rented car, trying to be prompt so you can catch your flight, only to be accused of causing damage that you know had nothing to do with you. No matter how much you protest, the staff won’t listen and are only interested in handing you a bill.
This was the experience a friend and I had only a few days ago, as we returned a car to Goldcar in Malta. As the Assistant Editor for MoneyMagpie, I’ve read a lot about bad customer service, foul practices and scams, but it’s hard to imagine the feeling when you’re caught out yourself. In those few moments you really do feel helpless.
‘Super relax cover’
When we first picked up the car, we were told by Goldcar we could either give them over a grand of our money which they would then return (an option I’m glad we didn’t take), or we could buy the ironically named ‘Super Relax Cover’, which supposedly covers you for any incidences that aren’t a result of bad driving. We opted to take the cover.
As we were handed the keys, a member of staff showed us the page where they would normally note down any existing damages and crossed it out. This gives you an unearned peace of mind and we made the stupid mistake of not taking a photo of every inch of the car before we left the airport car park.
Over the course of the holiday the wing mirror casing on the left side got knocked off. We checked the contract which informed us we needed a police report number and were required to phone a number to let them know about the damage. Before calling the police out for such a minor incident, we instead phoned the number. We informed them of the incident and specifically asked if we needed a police report number. They reassured us we did not.
Of course, when we return the car, they aren’t so understanding. Instead they insist without a police number, we will have to be charged. Our protests that they can check the recorded call where we specifically asked about this fell on deaf ears.
If that had been it though, we might have chalked it up to experience. Yes, it seemed unfair that after being explicitly told everything was okay we should be charged, but the contract is clear and we should have covered ourselves.
But then things got worse…
The nightmare worsens
The member of staff then checked the rest of the car and found his way to the boot suspiciously fast. Before long we’re told the spare tyre is flat, and we’re being charged for that. It may seem a rookie error, but we hadn’t even thought to check it. Now we were being handed a bill for over 800 Euros. Again, no matter how much we insisted this had nothing to do with us, the staff simply shrugged it off and seemed to have no issue calling us barefaced liars.
There are simply three explanations for this situation.
- I could be lying. I know this isn’t the case, but feel free to consider I’m a deluded fantasist if you wish. But, out of the only two options I know to be possible,
- they either genuinely didn’t realise they had given us a flat spare tyre or
- they deliberately sent us off with a flat spare tyre fully intending to charge us for pre-existing damage.
We refused to pay at the time and thankfully they didn’t have a grand of our money already. Instead, we went to the airport police station and filed a police report. Whilst they were cautious in saying anything explicitly, it was pretty clear we weren’t the first people to complain about this company.
Having had a chance to research them thoroughly, it’s abundantly clear ours is not an isolated incident.
There are multiple accusations of extra charges being withdrawn from customers accounts, charges for pre-existing damage and hard selling of unwanted insurance.
It was actually my friend who booked the car service, and because it was arranged through Expedia, he assumed it would be fine.
Expedia should ask themselves why they have anything to do with a company that has such a bad reputation.
This should teach us all a lesson about doing our homework before booking with a company. Learn from our mistakes. Do your research. Stay safe.
Have you had a bad rental car experience? Or maybe there’s a company you recommend. Let us know in the comments below.