MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA -- During our five days vacation in Florida I rented a car through International Vacation Club - IVC (1574 Washington Ave. Miami Beach, Fl 33139, Phone: 786-426-9984) with Beach Tyrex - BT (1000 5th Street, Suite 205, Miami Beach, Fl 33139, Phones: 305-503-6193, 786-262-7143) to travel to Orlando. We were offered a Chrysler PT Cruiser, but when I went to pick up the car on April 15th I received instead a six years old very used Chevrolet Cobalt. Since the attendant, informed me that this was "the only car available" and I had already paid a deposit of $60.00 to IVC I had to accept it. In the next day when we were putting our baggage in the car we found out that it did not have a jack and the spare tire was of a wrong size and did not fit right in the trunk making it difficult for our bags to fit in. I called BT but we had to borrow a jack from our friends in order not to waste the day waiting for somebody to answer our calls. We drove to Orlando, checked in the hotel, and a few hours later when we tried to go out for our planned dinner, the car did not work. I contacted the front desk and they sent a security guard with a jumper kit as, they said, a dead battery is the most common car problem there. The guard informed me that he could not find a contact point for the jumper cable. The battery of the car was in the trunk and as the key was stuck in the ignition there was nothing he could do. I immediately tried to call BT from the hotel lobby but nobody answered, I then connected to the internet of the hotel and send them a message through their web site explaining what happened, giving my hotel information and room number, and asking them to respond the email and call me urgently. They did neither.
The BT site (www.beachtyrex.com) lists numbers and offices in several places which when called informed us that they had nothing to do with Beach Tyrex in Miami and did not know anything about them. We had to cancel our dinner plans and eat at the hotel. In the next morning I started calling the numbers in the BT business card and in the contract at 6 am and called until around 9 am, left several messages and had no answer. It is unthinkable that a rental company does not have a 24h call number. Who would we call if we had been in an accident? Even though we paid for insurance there was no insurance information or phone number in the contract. This cannot be right! I also had to bother our friends calling them several times to explain what happened and asking them to try to contact BT on our behalf. Even though I was very upset by the lack of contact with BT, I refused to let a broken car completely spoil my family´s vacation and, as we had already paid for the park´s entrances, I decided that we would no longer wait for their response.
We had to change plans, waste time and be uncomfortable going to the parks in buses rather than on our car. Because of that we arrived late and did only half of what we intended to do this day. When we returned in the afternoon there was no message from BT in the hotel or in my email, and I started calling again, including informing IVC and asking them to try to contact BT. That night we had planned to have dinner at the Medieval Knights Castle and that too had to be canceled (that was a full day and our second night without using the car). Finally I reached contact with BT, who sent a tow truck to the hotel by late night. The person who came tried to jump start the car and could not do it. He called in front of me and informed BT that the problem with the car was NOT a simple battery issue and that he could not do anything, and left. By this time I was not sure even of how my family was supposed to return to Miami in the next day. Only later that night BT called back to say that, as the Cobalt could not be fixed, they were going to bring a car early next day (our last day in Orlando).
The car arrived around 10 am on the 18th and the BT person could not make the Cobalt start either. He gave me the key of a 2008 Camry and including the time it took us to gas up the car and load our bags it was already after noon, that is, another half day wasted because of BT. I informed all this to the BT person, who told me that everything was going to be taken care off when we delivered the car in the next day. I believed him! By then I had wasted most of our vacation dealing with a broken car and worrying about how to get around and how to return to Miami to catch our flight back to Brazil. We had lost the money of the tickets we bought and used only halfway (close to $300.00), and I had spent over $80.00 between coin calls, phone card calls and internet hotel connection to BT, IVC and our friends in Miami. On the way back to Miami, the visor on the drivers’ side of the Camry kept fallen as it was loose and poorly fixed with a tape, causing a risk of accident and demonstrating, again, the poor maintenance given by BT to its cars.
On the morning of the 19th I called BT and asked for permission to bring the car one hour latter so we could at least do some last minute shopping. He agreed and again reassured me that all my complaints would be taken care off at the office (which is, in fact, a corner in a parking garage). When we went to deliver the car we were met by the first attendant. I explained all the above to him and told that all I wanted was to be reimbursed for one day for not being able to use the broken car and for my phone expenses. He told that he “was only authorized” to reimburse my phone expenditures for which I had receipts ($60.00). I was flabbergasted by this lack of respect and asked to speak with a manager. He tried to call someone for over one hour and received no answer (during this time another person came and said she was trying to contact BT for a long time without any response. This shows, again, the difficulty everybody has to contact this company). After a very long and uncomfortable wait (there are no chair in the place) Juan informed us that he had to leave to pick up a client. After my wife´s strong disagreement with him leaving us alone there, he informed that a manager would come in another 30-40 minutes. After around 40 minutes a Manager arrived saying that he was going to “help” us. I explained it all to him again and he said that all he could do to “help” us would be to reimburse me for one day of rental, and that he ignored the reimbursement for the phone calls. He said that he had called us many times without answer. However, there was not one single message from BT in our hotel voice mail during our stay.
He was rude and we felt clearly that he discriminated us for being foreigners and tourists as he was always menacing to withdraw from the conversation by saying that we could either take his “help” or leave and go do whatever we wanted. He clearly knows that as tourists we don’t have the resources or the time to spent on complaints with the adequate local instances or fill a law suit (even though my wife is a lawyer in Brazil, a lawsuit in the USA is out of our reach), for this reason, he likely felt confident that nothing could happen to him or his company. This is not the kind of behavior expected from someone in a rental car agency. Myself and my wife were appalled by the way this person ignored our pleas, disrespected our rights and treated us as if we were beggars asking a favor rather than requesting the right to receive compensation for the extremely poor service given to us by BT. Even though I was guaranteed that my losses would be compensated, there was already an agreement with Juan for the reimbursement of the phone calls and he had agreed at first with my right to be reimbursed of the day lost, when the attendant told him that he was going to reimburse the phone expenses, he backed off and decided that they could do only one or the other, ended the conversation and simply moved away. Along our conversations with the BT people they all repeated “I am not the owner, there is nothing I can do”. Apparently no one in BT is responsible for anything that happens there, and the clients pay the price. Without further resource or chance for argument, we accepted the reimbursement for the phone calls and, again, after having wasted another half day of our vacation, we left with a very bitter taste in our mouths by the way we were treated by this company. I was not asked to sign or received any document ending my rental (of either car).
I have traveled on business and vacation to more than 20 countries all over the world, have rented cars in many of them and never had this kind of problem or poor treatment. This was my family´s first time in Florida and we were very disappointed that we had to spend a lot of our time dealing with a broken rental car and being mistreated. It is my expectation that someone will be able to fully investigate this complaint and do something so that other tourists visiting Florida will not suffer as much as we did in the hands of these people.
Hilton Pereira, Belém, Brazil