Horrible Car Rental Experience - Will Never Use Again
PARIS, FRANCE -- My rental was with Europcar through AutoEurope.
I showed up at the Europcar office about 10 minutes after the reservation time. I was asked whether I could drive a manual transmission. I said ânoâ and was informed that in that case I would need to wait while someone from the agency went somewhere else to pick up a car for me. Apparently, the only automatic car they had that day had been returned that morning in very bad shape. The person who was going to pick up the car left and I was told it would be about 1.5 hours or so before the car was ready. I came back at that time, but the car was still not ready. It was almost 3 hours after the reservation time that the car was finally ready. I asked whether I should get additional insurance and the Europcar person said that I was already covered and did not need any additional insurance. At no time did the agent at Europcar inform me that the agency would not be open on Sunday, despite the fact that my contract clearly stated that my rental period ended that day. (According to the AutoEurope website, that particular agency should have been open on Sunday evening, but this turned out to not be the case.) Moreover, I was never given instructions on how to return the car when the agency was closed.
On Sunday, July 13, when I returned the car as scheduled, I was surprised to find that the agency was closed. I did not know what to do, and there were no instructions posted anywhere providing information on how to drop off the car when the agency was closed. (The agent at Europcar had not informed me that the agency would not be open on Sunday, despite the fact that my contract clearly stated that my rental period ended that day. Moreover, I was never given instructions on how to return the car when the agency was closed.) I drove around and finally parked the car near the agency in a small Europcar zone of about 4 to 6 parking spaces. This area was a bit apart from the others and seemed to be for returning cars. I seem to remember that it was to the left of the agency when coming from agency into the garage (but I may be wrong about that as it has been 10 very busy days for me). I noted the date and time when I was returning the car and the mileage. I locked the car.
There was a sign above saying that the keys should be returned to an agent in the gas station. I went to the gas station and asked the person working there about it, but they knew nothing about it. I then searched for a drop box. I found what looked like a drop box that had âEuropcarâ written on it. This was inside the garage, across from the agency and slightly to the right. There were other boxes there for other rental car agencies. I attached the car keys to copy of the contract, slipped them in the Europcar pocket and dropped them into the box. Both the contract and the key clearly went to the bottom of the box, according the sound.
The next day, I called AutoEurope to make sure that the car had been officially marked as returned and was told that it had not been. I then called Europcar, and they said that they were closed all day Sunday and that they did not have the key to the mailbox and would need to get them. They suggested that I call the next day.
I called the next day, and was told that they still did not have the keys to the car and would need to get them and to call again later. For some reason, they could not confirm whether or not the car was there, although I had told them where I had parked it.
I made several calls during that week, and experienced great difficulty getting any useful information from the Europcar personnel. During one of those calls on Thursday or Friday, I was told that they had found the car. I also asked if they could not call a locksmith to open the mailbox and they said that they could not do this (although they never adequately explained why this was the case), but that replacement keys had been ordered and were supposed to arrive on Friday via recommended letter
I called Europcar again on Friday and was told that the keys had not yet arrived.
On Monday, July 21, I found a voicemail on my cell phone from Europcar asking me where I had put the keys to the car. I called them back and indicated that I was the person who left the keys in their mailbox. They asked me for the contract number as âseveral people had left their keys in the mailboxâ. I could not lay my hands on the contract just then and so gave them my last name. They then asked again where I had put the car keys and I told them yet again that I had attached them to the contract and had dropped both into the mailbox. They said that they had found the contract, but not the keys, and that they could no longer find the car.
Needless to say, this made me very upset. I suggested that they call the police and they indicated that they would need to make some âdeMarchesâ (not sure what this meansâ¦) and would contact me again tomorrow.
July 24 update: The agency did not call the next day, but on Thursday, July 24 and wanted me to fill out a police report immediately indicating that the car was stolen from me. As the car was not stolen from me, but from Europcar, I did not feel comfortable doing that. Also, because they called two days later, I am traveling and unable to send something âright awayâ as requested. Had I been given some sort of advance notice of this, I could have prepared something. I am now going out of my way to get the statement printed out and faxed to Europcar.
Europcar also indicated that they would charge us the full deductible for a stolen car. I donât agree with this, as the car was in their hands when it was stolen.
Based on all the above, I draw the following conclusions:
- I went out of my way to follow up on this and ensure the car was back in Europcarâs successfully
- Europcar did almost nothing:
o Did not tell me that the agency will be closed on the day I returned the car
o Did not follow up on their car when, from their point of view, I did not return it on time. I canât imagine what would have happened if I had not proactively followed up
o Did not secure the car when I finally called them and let them know the situation
o Did not secure the mailbox
o Did not make any effort to retrieve the keys from the mailbox even without the key to the mailbox
o Did not bother calling a locksmith to open the mailbox
o Does not have keys to their own mailbox!!!
o Obviously the instructions for returning cars are not clear since other people dropped their keys in the same mailbox
And to round things out, they charged our credit card 1500 Euros, of which 1200 was for the theft deductible and the rest was 'tax' and other weird stuff. We've been trying to get this resolved since July and they are continuing their 'internal investigation'.