To all: I have been traveling to Italy to for many years. I have learned several things. Italy or any other foreign country is not the US. There are cultural differences, insurance differences, and many other things that are different from the states. I have used many agencies to rent my vehicle, while on stays in Italy but the one I use the most is Auto Europa because it consistently has had the best prices and good safe vehicles. The agent in Bologna usually recognizes from past rentals and makes my time at the desk as short as possible, which is not always the case in Italy.
I think part of the reason for my good experiences is that I do my homework ahead of time. I know what kind of a car I want and I know I want to waive the excess insurance coverage. Of all the credit cards out there most exempt Italy from insurance coverage. Visa is the only card I know of that will cover your vehicle from accidents and stolen vehicles up to the replacement cost of the vehicle. You must waive the excess coverage and you cannot be renting an exotic vehicle. Also the rental period cannot be greater than 15 days.
I know not to expect an automatic transmission because Europeans love the gas mileage benefits and handling of a stick shift transmission. Auto Europa I have found is very honest about what they cover and what they don't. Vouchers are paid ahead of time when you use a broker. They receive a percentage of the rental as a broker fee for running their website and facilities to help you find your best deal.
The balance due at the time of rental can be in Euro or US dollars but you should know that before you make the deal. In dealing with Auto Europa I have always received the auto I wanted, I have never been pressured into upgrading, I have been asked about the excess insurance and when I have declined it has not be a problem.
Their to be has been outstanding. I leave on March 10th 2010 for another trip to Bologna Italy, and I am using them again. I know everything will be just fine. I have also witnessed many "Ugly Americans" at the rental desk verbally abusing the agents. This is not just in Europe but in the states as well. People just do not do the homework and then get angry with everyone else when things go bad. I am not affiliated in way with Auto Europa. I am an American born in the US who bought a condo in Tuscany and Auto Europa is helping me get there. Thanks Auto Europa for the fine service over the years.
I've booked two cars (one in O'hare, and the other one in Orlando MCO) through Auto Europe, and the rental car company turned out to be Dollar Rent a Car. The first car that I've been given in O'hare Chicago was making all kinds of noises on the road, that I had to stop and ask for a change in Oregon Airport. The first car I've been given was also not-safe-to-drive, therefore I asked another one. The last one was so noisy, that you can not speak inside the car, had no power windows or door lock. But I had to take the car as I was already late.
I called Auto Europe's 1-800 number several times. The person answered the phone always connected me to some numbers in Europe, with answering machines speaking all languages but English. At last, when I reached a person, she asked me to drive back to O'hare-Chicago, and try my chance to change the car there. Three hours drive… I'm trying to make a business meeting. A very creative approach.
The worst was on the way back. As I did my online C'in, I arrived at O'hare, one hour before my flight. I delivered the car, and started to wait for the shuttle to take me to the terminal. As the shuttle bus did not leave on time, I entered to the building and asked what is happening. I've been told that as I'm the only customer, the shuttle will wait for the next group of customers... Even if I begged, I had to wait there for more than 30 minutes, and therefore missed the flight.
I arrived to Florida, at 1:30 AM, and started the car only at 3:30 AM. Each transaction in Orlando Dollar takes at least 30 minutes. They had 2-3 personnel and only 6 customers when I arrived, and it took two hours to get the keys of the car. The first car had problems with the breaks. The second car a bad battery, that I had to jump start using some help around, as Dollar Emergency Number called me back only after 1 hour, and told me that the help is on the way, and may arrive in one hour.
The last car was the only decent car that I ever had during the entire, and last experience with Dollar Rent a Car and Auto Europe. I've missed a flight, spend one sleepless night, had to look for helpful people to help me on the road (in US!) to start the junk that I've been given by Dollar and Auto Europe, and lost at least my 10 precious hours for to sort out all those problems with the junks. Make yourself a favor and keep away from Auto Europe (Dollar's partner in UK) and Dollar Rent-A-Car.
Months before our trip to Israel in 2000, I searched the Internet for a rental auto. Auto Europe offered me a good rate on a car from Budget. Since I didn't want to purchase the CDW, I asked them to remove that from the quote, and they did. Their voucher says explicitly "CDW optional." Based on that information, I made the reservation with Auto Europe, and paid the required advance via VISA.
When I bellied up to the counter in Jerusalem, I was informed that Budget does not rent autos in Israel without CDW (Budget calls it LDW--Loss Damage Waiver). With the family waiting, and time running out on my appointment 100 miles away, I had no choice but to pay $113 for CDW so that I could rent the car. I did this through Auto Europe because it was the cheapest option open to me at the time.
Back at the ranch, I contacted Auto Europe to get a refund on the extra money that I had had to pony up. The way I see it, they are required to provide the car rental for the price that we agreed to. As it was, I was forced to purchase a service which I explicitly did not want, and the fault clearly lay with Auto Europe for providing me with incorrect information. The price and conditions on the voucher are as legally binding for Auto Europe as they are for me.
After exchanging lots of emails with their service manager, Bruce **, he finally bucked the decision up to the president (and CEO) of Auto Europe. I waited for two months, but I never did hear anything from the pres. During that time I exchanged two emails with Bruce **, and sent a warning with a deadline. Nada. The moral of the story is: beware of doing business with Auto Europe. A reputable company would have acknowledged their mistake and compensated the damages. Auto Europe has done neither.
5 months ago in December (winter time here in Europe) I have rented a car in Italy/Bergamo with Auto Europe. The car has been rented with ZERO EXCESS INSURANCE. I travelled from Bergamo to small village in Italian Alps. After 5 days on day of my departure from Italy the car broke down. Engine just died when we were about to leave the village and drive to the airport.
I rang Auto Europe just to find out that they were not able to provide me with the replacement as they didn't have any offices in that area. They offered to send towing vehicle to collect the broken car and a taxi to take us to the airport in Bergamo (250km away). I have been informed that Auto Europe will pay just 150 euro for the service so at the end I have been left with no choice but to pay additional 150 euro for the taxi.
After two weeks I discovered that my credit card has been charged with 130 euro. After my numerous phone calls and emails to incompetent Auto Europe customer service I received their explanation that I have been charged for the damage to the car. As they explained I didn't put anti-freezer liquid to the fuel tank and the car broke down. INTERESTING thing is that I got the car with the full tank and did not have a chance to fill it up by myself at all. Of course I have explained everything to Customer Service.
When I received my credit card statement I discovered an additional charge of 93 euro to my card. I still did not receive any explanation what is the basis of that charge. Since more than 5 weeks all my calls and emails are being left without any response. Just to summarize I have to spend additional 370 euro (even though the car has been rented with ZERO EXCESS INSURANCE) because Auto Europe has provided me with no technically fit car. DO NOT USE THEIR SERVICE IF YOU DON'T WANT LOSE YOUR MONEY.
PORTLAND, MAINE -- Before traveling to Bulgaria, I called to ensure that I could rent a car and then take it to other countries. I was given a list of countries to which I could travel. I asked how close to the trip I could call back and they said that it was just a matter of availability. So I called back to book two rentals on a Friday - one for the next day and one for the following Tuesday. At this point I was told that it took five days to get the paperwork in order to travel out of Bulgaria. OK, the next day trip was out, but what could we do about the second trip? They booked it for the following Wednesday - that being five days out.
On Monday, I was informed that it was denied because it was not five business days out. I fully understand some of this is on me, but part of calling a broker is to use their expertise, and knowing my plans to travel outside of Bulgaria, it seems they could have notified me up front regarding the waiting period.
As for booking it out 5 days only to tell me that it is 5 business days, come on! Know your own rules. I could have rented something locally for the portion of the trip in country, returned, taken their rental and gone. It would have sufficed, but now I am simply faced with not enough time to get there and back. I am thoroughly frustrated by their lack of knowledge of their own product, but I should acknowledge that everyone I spoke with was courteous.
Beware! These guys will rip you off. They have incompetent billing practices. Their website will quote one price and then one week before you leave on vacation they will contact you with additional fees. By this time it is too late to find anything else so you eat the extra cost. I booked a vacation to Turkey and two days before the trip they contacted me saying that it would be an additional 250 euros for additional car drop off fees. Couldn't find anything else on such short term notice and had to pay.
I came back from vacation and went to a dinner party and met a couple who were going to Croatia the following week and they told me the same story about booking through Auto Europe. An agent had contacted them the week before saying that there were additional fees. The couple tried to book something else but everything was already sold out. Beware!
Booked a car through them for 5 days, to use in Spain. There was no mention about any particular fuel policy during the booking process, so one could well assume that this would be the standard "pick up full, return full" policy. Only after I'd paid and received the voucher, I noticed that the fuel policy was an abusive one: you had to buy a full tank of petrol (overpriced even, at almost double the average price per litre!), with no refunds given for any unused petrol at the end of the booking.
I should have seen something like this coming judging by the way the booking went - site broke down and could not handle online bookings, so had to book over the phone, on an international call, with a slow and untrained operator.
PORTLAND, MAINE -- In July 2010 I rented a car from Auto Europe (National Car Rental), on a vacation trip to Scotland. When I returned the auto to the Edinburgh airport, I had problems with Auto Europe. First the representative claimed that the car had been damaged; after a lengthy debate the decision was "no damage."
After I returned home to the United States I was shocked to learn that I had been charged for an extra day by Auto Europe. The car had been returned on-time, evidenced by the receipt provided to me by AE, and the company did not advise me that the return was late. I attempted to resolve the dispute with Auto Europe, but the company was unresponsive. After several months the credit card provider (not AE) refunded the disputed balance. I got ripped-off by Auto Europe and any prospective customer should be aware of the treatment I received. AE was unethical and the customer service was lousy.
Having dropped off the car on return in Bologna, my deposit for any damages etc, was fully refunded and Sicily By Car/Auto Europa signed off on the car. In the agent's words "tutti a posto" or "Everything is fine". 4 weeks later, after my return to Australia, I see this charge of over 300 dollars from Auto Europa on my credit card. The reason? "Damage to interior - not covered by your comprehensive insurance cover". What a scam!!! There was no accompanying documentation, no photos of the so-called "damage". That's because there was no damage and this company is simply trying to extort 300 dollars from me. Any prospective clients beware!
SCHIPHOL -- Misleading quotes are used by Auto Europe!!! They quoted me a cheaper car rental than anyone and told me it was because of their agreement with various car rental agencies. Their voucher even indicated the price I was to pay. However, in the "attachment" you will read all the additional charges that they do NOT put on their quote. The rental rate was substantially higher than I had been able to find elsewhere. If you complain, they say that you have to adjust this before you rent, by going through their "matched rate department" to obtain the lowest price. The problem is you do not know about all these extra charges till after you rent!! BE AWARE!!!