Mar 26

Goldcar Malta – a MoneyMagpie’s horror story

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’

Hire Car Key

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

Shocking rental car bill

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.

  1. 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,
  2. they either genuinely didn’t realise they had given us a flat spare tyre or
  3. 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.


Bad reputation

Stressed unhappy worman with hire car and suitcases

Having had a chance to research them thoroughly, it’s abundantly clear ours is not an isolated incident.

Last year the company was accused by tourists of ‘scamming’, reported in The Sun, and there are Facebook pages set up by people who claim to be ‘victims’ of Goldcar.

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.

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5 thoughts on Goldcar Malta – a MoneyMagpie’s horror story

  1. Hi Jack,

    Thanks for sharing your story. Unfortunately, as you probably know, these stories about Goldcar are all to frequent over the internet.

    Do keep fighting your case and it would be great to get any updates from you as you continue your battle with this awful company.


  2. I collected a car from Gold car/ Rhodium boot at Malta airport on Tuesday 27 March 2018 at around 21:00.

     I was offered any insurance that was more expensive than the rental itself. I politely refused and for that I was given extra two detailed penalty documents to sign. I never saw anything like this anywhere else in the world! But I wasn’t given a choice.

    At the street garage, the agent handing over the car did a very fast walk around the car, it was 21:30 and the inspection took place under a semi lit streetlight. He kept on assuring me that the many little scratches and dents are too small to mention in the report. 

    He didn’t give me any copy of the inspection report therefore I insisted to photograph it.

    I then drove directly to the hotel (25mins drive) the car was full of loud mechanical sounds and scary noises and the overall feel was that I drive an unsafe , unmaintained , old car. I am having twelve days holiday in Malta with my partner, my mother age 73 and my 3 years old son and my guts feeling indicated the situation is not safe nor professional. 

     25 mins after collecting the car from Malta airport, while I hand the keys to the concierge to park the car in the Intercontinental Hotel parking hotel I quickly noticed a  little scratch on the front. I remember myself wondering at the back of my mind if we included that in the inspection report that took place only 25 mins ago. I was too busy with checking in to the hotel and dealing with a 3 years old toddler therefore  I could not pay too much attention or thoughts to this.

    After putting my little boy to sleep while sitting in the bath I recalled on the scratch and remembered I took a photo of the inspection report. I checked my phone and surprisingly it was not included. The following day I asked the concierge to get my car out of the hotel garage. Under day light I could inspect the scratch more closely. I took a picture on my phone and emailed the branch as soon as I got back to my room. 

    At that stage, on Wednesday, I was unconcerned and confident that my quick report will be quickly  resolved assuring me not to worry, or that they forgot to include this in their report or any other explanation but instead I received a generic copy paste reply that did not answer any of my queries.

     It was only when I started to call the car rental office branch the following day (Thursday), when the phone was put down on me during the conversation a few times, and then when my further calls were totally ignored, that I started to get suspicious.  A quick internet search and online review website revealed the hundreds of bad reviews and similar incidents of scratches that appeared from nowhere and the heavy fines. I started to get really concerned  that this rental company was operating a large scale scam.

    On Friday morning, before heading further inland, I returned to the airport to have face to face chat with the manager. I first looked for the guy who inspected the car in the inspection garage.  He wasn’t there. I  talked to other employees and they all seemed to be briefed with a fixed short reply ‘this is why you should have taken the insurance we offered you’ ! 

    I walked to the airport terminal and after an hour wait I managed to meet the branch manager. Her name is Kaycee Pope. She is the person who replied my email with a standard copy-paste reply that you can see at the bottom of this page (*1)

    Her approach/attitude was very strict and unpleasant. Rather then listening to my story she kept on repeating that ‘if not on inspection report then it is my fault’ she already came with a price tag of EUR 430 which EUR 150 would be as an admin handling fee. 

    It sounds and felt a very professional scam and fraud at that stage but there was nothing I could do about. I felt frustrated and helpless. I kept on wandering it could have been worst when you are in a rush to get to your flight and have no other choice. 

    Although I do have an annual insurance with ICarHire. Com I knew it wasn’t my fault so I decided to keep on with my argument on and on and on and  see what happens. Eventually, all of a sudden, she came with a surprising suggestion. She suggested that I would quickly register online for car insurance and that she would amend the dates of the car reservation to start after I start my new insurance (30/3) and that she would issue a new rental agreement. She also offered to change the date of the scratch/incident to the last day of the rental (8/4) so I could claim it back from this new insurance.

    I was overwhelmed by her upfront and direct suggestion to me committing fraud /insurance crime and immediately refused. I decided to go to the nearby police station but she was not intimidated at all ‘ it is your word against us she said’.

    She was right, at the airport police station they briefly explained to me that this is a civil case and that it is my word against them.

    I then called you at MasterCard where you confirmed that EUR 1,400 were provisionally blocked on my card but that you cannot do much before they actually confirm how much money they will charge my MasterCard card account. 

    I returned to the terminal to see again the branch manager, Kaycee Pope, giving it one last chance to see if I can talk senses to her. This time I decided to secretly record my conversation with her. She kept on suggesting me to do fraud while handing over a printed bill of EUR 430. It was only the beginning of my 3rd morning into my car rental period and I already got a bill double than my twelve days rental fees. She kept on ignoring my request to check if the scratch was already recorded by previous rentals. I refused to pay and left the airport keeping the same old car.

    I have nine more days left on my rental, in a car I don’t feel safe to drive and I have no way to change it unless I pay hefty fine and claim responsibility on a tiny scratch at the front.

    To summarise:

    1. The scratch seemed to be ‘peeling off’/revealing itself during the drive to the hotel. Another option is that we might have noticed the scratch during inspection but it was deliberately omitted/not written down. 

    2. The scratch that seemed to be deliberately caused by a sharp metal/key got bigger and longer with each passing day.

    3. I was given an old car that felt unsafe to drive in.

    4. I was offered to take part in an insurance fraud.

    5. I am anxiously await to see what else they might blame me for after returning the car.

    Update 8.4.2018 | Upon returning the car , the scratch was dismissed by Maz saying all is OK and no extra charge. He even signed my form as all OK. The following day a euros 487 has appeared on my card including euros40 for loss of use do repair the scratch.

    Update 1.7.2018 | After returning to the UK, I emailed [email protected] and [email protected] . I then got reply from Rachel [email protected] which promised to investigate my claim. It has been 3 months now and no one answers my emails.

  3. A rental car I had from Green Motion in Stansted was involved in a hit-and-run accident. They offered very little help in getting me a replacement car and even though I did all the paperwork with Green Motion and the police, my 995GBP deposit have been held since July of 2017. The perpetrator was caught and the police have his details, but Green Motion tells me it could take up to 6 years in the UK for this to be resolved. I do not intend to ever use green Motion car rental again.

  4. I remember these scams were a huge problem about 15-20 years ago, with huge surcharges being added for minor damage (especially tyre walls and windscreens), cleaning (both inside and out), topping up fuel tanks etc etc all on top of some insanely expensive insurance that didn’t seem to cover these situations.

    To make matters worse, the scammers were legally allowed to charge your credit card for something like 9 months after your return home, and they often did wait months before charging.

    Who can remember what condition the car was in months later? I think most people just paid it.

    I used a separate online annual insurance for my anti damage waivers etc that also included legal cover, for a fraction of the car hire price, so I felt quite smug when explaining to the car hire staff what they could do with their ADWs!

    To be honest, despite turning each pickup into a David Bailey-like photo shoot, I never needed the pictures as I was never charged any extras, even when I fully expected to be.

    Top prize must go to Budget in Cape Town. Due to a very tight time schedule I returned my car in what can best be described as resembling a Paris-Dakar finisher. It was also probably about 1/3 short of being ‘full’ of fuel. When I asked about the cleaning charge and fuel top up the very polite young guy just said ‘nah mate, this is Cape Town, we don’t do that sh*t here!’ I flew back thinking it was a scam, but nothing, he really was being genuine. If only they could all be like that.

  5. All too often an occurrence which is reported all over the internet. You won’t be the first or the last. Seems like you fell for the most basic of scams.

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