I hired a car from Europcar in Perth, Western Australia in October 2009. I previously was a long term Europcar customer, hiring through work probably once a month, and normally I would hire the most expensive luxury car available. Over the previous 12 months I noticed the customer service going downhill with each experience with Europcar getting more and more painful.
On this particular experience I hired an Audi A3 from Perth Airport when I was away with my girlfriend for a weekend. Our flight arrived at around 8pm and it was dark when we collected the vehicle. After collecting the keys from the pickup counter at baggage collection we had to walk nearly a kilometre to the parking lot where the car was located. The carpark where the car was collected from was dimly lit and after a 4 hour flight from Adelaide it did not cross our mind to go over the car in detail to search for damage as it was my expectation that after renting cars quite literally hundreds of times in my life that I would not have to worry about this.
My girlfriend and I proceeded to drive the car to the Parmelia Hilton in Perth where the car was parked in an undercover carpark for the weekend, only taking it one night to a restaurant for dinner where it was parked in an onsite park out the front of the restaurant in a quiet Perth suburb. When returning the vehicle to Perth airport on the Sunday, I was surprised to be asked to wait around for 10 minutes whilst the Indian fellow who processed the return performed a detailed inspection of the vehicle.
After nearly 10 minutes of checking over the vehicle, he came across a tiny stone chip in the middle of the hood, something I would not have even been able to find if I had even inspected the vehicle. When returning the car, I noticed that he was holding paperwork that showed that I was a customer that hadn't taken out the excess reduction insurance - this is a scam where Europcar gets you to pay a large additional daily fee so that if they find damage of any sort they limit the amount you pay back to them.
It was quite clear that the company had advised the person in the incoming car park that I was a customer who had not paid the excess reduction and he was instructed to find any excess to charge me the $3,500 excess fee. It is a policy of Europcar if you do not pay their extra fees, then they will charge you $3,500 regardless of the level of damage.
The Indian fellow of course immediately proceeded to blame me for damage to the vehicle, however upon closer questioning of him, he came to admit that Europcar had absolutely no way of verifying that the damage was or was not on the car when I had taken it out. Knowing that I would be up for a fight with the company I immediately pulled out my iPhone and recorded a conversation with him, and this has kindly been hosted by the good folk at boycotteuropcar.com. The Indian fellow said that he had no choice but to report the damage to the office in the airport where they would charge my credit card for $3,500.
I then proceeded to move to the Europcar office in the airport. After 10 minutes of discussing the issue with the manager, they sent a team out to the vehicle with a ruler to measure the size of the stone chip. They came back and reported to me that the size of the chip was 1 millimetre over the threshold as to what they will consider to be 'wear and tear', as result they would have to charge me $3,500 for the 'damage'.
The most upsetting part about this was that both my girlfriend and I were absolutely certain that this damage did not occur whilst we were driving the car, and the staff at Europcar were completely unsympathetic, and almost excited to charge the $3,500 like they were getting a commission bonus from it.
I of course continued to engage in discussion with the manager in a calm, collected and mild mannered way. The manager at the desk told me that I was stopping her from serving the next customer and said that she was not willing to continue discussing the matter. She completely closed the book on further discussion and would not accept that it was unreasonable to continue discussing damage they wanted to charge me $3,500 for, over whether it was 1mm over the limit as to where they would just ignore it.
The manager's method of dealing with the matter was, "I'm sick of talking about this, go away now so I can charge your card and serve other customers". I claimed that I had a right to a fair dispute process and her response was that she pressed a button under the desk that called over the federal police where she reported me to be a nuisance and I was warned that if I were to be in an unhappy state that I would not even be allowed to fly home.
Thankfully the time in which she spent discussing the unreasonable customer who was unhappy about being charged $3,500 over a tiny stone chip that he didn't cause with the federal police gave me enough time to call my credit card company and cancel the card. This was the last I heard of the matter until January 2010. I received a letter from a law firm called Mendelsons seeking immediate payment within 7 days on behalf on Europcar for the amount $1,915.67.
I wrote back to this law firm advising them of what had happened. I received a call from the firm and they said that they were willing to reduce their legal fees by $225, and the final amount would be reduced to $1,690.67. I explained that I would like the matter formally reviewed and would like to start a dispute process with the company. I also advised the company that I had personal travel insurance that would cover this amount of money, however felt the charge was unethical and would like it to be reviewed.
Without any further contact, I received another letter from the law firm saying that negotiation was unsuccessful and they would take me to court within 7 days if I didn't pay the balance. I am now at a crossroads where I am being extorted by Europcar, either go to court, pay the money, or damage my credibility with my insurance company by filing a claim that makes me look like a bad driver. I warn people out there, do not trust this company, under no circumstances, NEVER hire with Europcar. I have been using AVIS ever since and their service is amazing, I wish I had been using them all along instead of Europcar.
LONDON, UK -- We reserved our vehicle online for September 2 of 2014 for our day trip to Stonehenge and Dover from the 12 Semley Pl location in London. When we got there we had been told that the mini cooper we had reserved was not available and were offered a BMW 330 for the same price. So far so good I guess, I suppose a BMW would be just as fun for our trip.
We were then asked if we would be using a full tank and would like to buy the gas in advance for returning it. Since our trip would be roughly 330 miles, we accepted that. Not knowing that they would be giving us a diesel car (the customers in front of us were given a car that required gasoline) and that the car got like 50 miles per gallon. So when we returned it after only using a half of a tank of gas, they basically said tough luck. But that is not the worst of it.
When we were given our car, we were expected to look over the vehicle in a dark parking garage with no assistance. Not seeing any damage to the car we were on our way. After returning from our trip we dropped it off in the same place we picked it up. Only this time the attendant had his flashlight ready to go, and made a b-line directly to one of the tires. "Oh, there is a cut in the tire" he says. Except that I never hit anything, and it was right next to previously documented damage to the wheel rim. So I was sent back to the office to take care of it.
After talking to the manager or whoever he was for a couple min, he said he would go look at it and took some pictures. About 20 minutes later he came back with his camera and showed us the tire -- which, there was no way to even tell it was the tire to the BMW. It looked like someone had taken a knife to it and carved part of the tire away next to the rim. Or even something that would have caused major damage to the rim other than the few scratches that were there from previous users.
He claimed this kind of thing happens all the time when you hit curbs or leave the parking garage. Except in all the vehicles I have ever owned I have never seen anything like this and I don't go driving around hitting curbs either. So he hemmed and hawed for a few seconds and said we would have to pay for a new tire and wondered why I didn't buy some fabled "tire insurance." Tire insurance??? Nobody ever mentioned tire insurance, let alone why the hell would anyone need tire insurance unless you're running some sort of scam.
He just kept saying this happens all the time, and to call and complain to Europcar. But there was nothing he could do because someone would get in trouble. So with our great day of seeing the sights ruined we head back to the hotel awaiting the day we returned home to call customer service. When we looked at our credit card statement it turns out that they not only took our online pre-payment, but also charged us again for the rental at the office!
AVOID EUROPCAR AT ALL COSTS! It may look like you will be saving money on your rental, but this place is running a scam on their customers, and you will end up paying even more money on top of your rental if you are not careful. I am just glad they didn't try and pull the 'old' damaged spare tire trick on me that apparently they have been doing to people in Mexico.
Our family travel abroad every year. We planned to visit Western Australia in September. My daughter rented a 12 seater from Europcar via Rentalcars.com. She paid the full rent and the excess damage insurance fee to Rentalcars.com one month ahead, in August. We were advised to get our vehicle at Europcar's counter at Perth Airport. We arrived on time as our agreement indicated. First, the lady of Europcar told us the 12 seater was damaged. She could offer an 8 seater or 2 small cars.
Considering the road risks, gas bills, and other problems, we prefer to travel in one vehicle. So we went to the parking lot to check if the luggage capacity was enough for us (we were a group of 8). Then we decided to hold some bags on our laps to take that 8 seater. As to the price difference, the lady said "NO REFUND". That meant, we paid more money for a cheaper vehicle! OK, our family group included three generations -- I and my wife were around 75 and my youngest granddaughter was not 5 yet. We were tired and we just wanted to hit the road ASAP.
We accepted the unfair condition just because we really wanted a vehicle. Then, when we showed our domestic driving license and the international driving permit for the usual procedure of renting a vehicle overseas, we were asked to show the English translation of our domestic driving license. We had traveled so many countries, it was not the first time for us to travel in Western Australia, and we were a returning customer of Europcar. We'd never been challenged with this issue.
The international driving permit has the English translation of our Taiwan driving license in it. The international driving permit was issued according to our Taiwan driving license by our government. It was impossible for us to produce the English translation of the driving license with notarization at Perth Airport! That lady insisted the third document no matter how hard we tried to explain.
As a result, we had to give up our booking and turned to the next counter, Hertz, to rent a vehicle for moving on. Out of our surprise, we got the exactly the same vehicle with 2/3 price of the bill my daughter paid to Rentalcars.com. Besides, we weren't asked for the English translation. Just in a few minutes, we got our vehicle!
My daughter contacted Rentalcars.com for their non-fulfillment. The answer was the cancellation fee was the full payment my daughter paid in August. Think of this: we didn't use the car or the insurance for a second, why we should pay all these? They said, according to their Terms & Conditions, the cancellation is only accepted with refund when you notify them 48 hours before the picking-up time, AND the renter should prepare the valid driving license.
My daughter is still contacting with Rentalcars.com and Europcar. Because the truth was Europcar didn't fulfill the agreement, how could we predict the issue 48hrs ahead? AND, according to the Transport Department of Western Australia and the T&C of Europcar, there's no regulation says the English translation is mandatory. There's a regulation says the driver needs the domestic driving license and the international driving permit OR the English translation of the driving license.
Both companies ignore my daughter's complaint. My daughter's bank started to contact Rentalcars.com because the bank had paid Rentalcars.com already. Then, Rentalcars.com email my daughter and said they closed the file, so my daughter's bank won't have the solution. What a fraud it is!!! Please avoid using these fraud companies.
Rented the a/m vehicle via Auto Europe UK and paid full rental in advance for 4 days. At the Stansted station I paid for a full tank of fuel and extra insurance to remove all excess. Before leaving their office I was made to leave a thumbprint which my solicitor advises is highly irregular and will be investigating what course of action we can take. On collection at Stansted airport I discovered that the first vehicle (also a Kia) had a malfunction light flashing. The vehicle was changed to a different one.
On Sunday 02/03/08 I was involved in an accident at around 09.00 A.M. and RAC advised that the car could not be driven and arranged for a recovery truck to take the car to the nearest Europcar station being Bristol airport. I phoned the Europcar desk at Bristol airport and the person on duty advised that no replacement vehicle was available before 14.00 hrs. at the earliest.
I advised that this was not acceptable being 5 hours after the accident. I advised that I was ready to accept a smaller car temporarily. Europcar however said that nothing was available as the key to the office at their station had been taken away by the employee on duty on the previous shift and they had no access to the office in which all car rental keys were kept.
I advised that this was not acceptable and to speak to a person of higher authority as I was on the last day of a family holiday with a party of 6 pax including a 5 year old and had planned a day in surrey at Thorpe Park (250 kms away) with pre-paid tickets costing gbp 102 in total. Europcar put me on hold (for a good 20 minutes) and finally confirmed that a replacement car (7 seater) would be ready and waiting at Bristol airport on my arrival there with the RAC recovery truck & damaged vehicle.
We all (5 adults + 1 child) arrived in the recovery truck at Bristol airport Europcar desk at around 10:15 hrs. On arrival at the Europcar desk and after filling in all papers relating to the accident I was advised by the Europcar duty clerk (the same person who I spoke to on the phone) that the replacement car was not yet ready as it was being washed and would be ready in a few minutes.
A good 30 to 45 minutes later the car was nowhere to be seen. The Europcar clerk said they were now checking the mileage of the damaged car. Meanwhile he was joined by the duty clerk from the National Car Rental desk who confirmed the car would be available within the next few minutes.
30 Or so minutes later and no sign of the replacement car, a female employ (dressed in civilian clothes) turned up and was seen handing the keys of the Europcar office to the duty clerk and she told him "you **, did you have to wake me up after such a heavy night", to this the Europcar clerk, the National clerk and the female employ started laughing etc. The Europcar clerk also told her that "he were hoping for a peaceful Sunday" and then "this guy had to screw it all up."
The Europcar employee then went into the now open office and retrieved a number of wooden boxes with contract pouches and keys etc. On seeing this I remonstrated with the Europcar employee and told him in no uncertain manner and in fact in a high voice and maybe not exactly using proper language that I would not accept being taken for a ride and that the story of the car being washed was a pack of lies and the real problem was the missing keys.
Suddenly the lady on duty at the Avis desk started shouting and saying that I was disgusting and I should address my wife in that manner. I told her to mind her own business to which she replied that it was her business and to go back home. I told her that shortly before she was seen taking the mickey out of an old gentleman who was trying to obtain a better car rental rate. She objected to this but a number of people in the building said it was true and that her behaviour was shameful. She then shut up and did not intervene again.
The National clerk then said that they would not be replacing the car. This was confirmed by the Europcar clerk. I am aware that Europcar, National & Avis form part of the same group. I said I was going to contact Europcar customer service but they would not provide a telephone number. I got even more excited and so did the other members of my family with the 5 year old literally terrified. I told the family to move out of the building and I joined them.
Once outside my wife told me that a lady (**) on duty at Hertz had approached her and told her that she had called the police and that we were absolutely right and the behaviour etc. Of the Europcar, National & Avis personnel was not on and Europcar were having problems all morning with the key problem. She said she and her colleague at Hertz were shocked with their behaviour. She also said she would do her best to provide us with a car.
The police turned up after a few minutes, by which time I was very emotional and asked me for my version of events. One of the officers then asked me to stay outside with my family and the other officer whilst he spoke to the Europcar clerk inside. ** from Hertz was asked to go outside to give her version of the incident to the officer who remained outside. Which she did. Having spoken to the Europcar clerk the first officer came outside again and the second officer advised him that **'s (from Hertz) version agreed word for word with my version.
The first officer advised that Europcar had given a totally different version and were adamant in not providing a replacement car. He advised that he could do nothing about this. I asked him to accompany me to Europcar to close the contract which he did. I advised Europcar that I was being deprived of a vehicle 1 day early (having paid for a 4 day rental in advance through you+ 1 day full insurance to remove all excess charges paid on collection.) And that the damaged vehicle was returned with a tank 0.75 Full of diesel for which I opted to pay for a full tank on collection.
The clerk advised that all these charges would be refunded and credited to my credit card account. When asked for a hard copy of the closed contract the reply was "not possible as we have problems in our system", this to the amazement of both myself and the police officer.
The officer advised that he could do nothing further at that time. He accompanied me to the Hertz desk and waited with me and my family till Hertz (**) provided us with a family car to resume our holiday. Before parting he advised ** that he would be back later to speak to her again about the whole matter and see what further action he could take. Please note that for the replacement car I was billed gbp. 298 (Including full insurance) for a 2 day rental as by then the time was Sunday 13.00 hrs. and as originally planned I was to return the car to Luton on Monday at 15.30 hrs.
ADELAIDE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA -- Below is the original email to Europcar once I received a bogus $98 repair charge. It has now been 5 months, at least 10 phone calls from me to them, 4 personal visits to the depot and promised returned calls from state managers that never happened. Basically the repair charge is bogus and they owe me money for charging me for more hire time than used. The worst customer resolution service known to man.
The vehicle was collected from Salisbury depot at 1541 on 14/1/09 at which time the exterior of the vehicle was inspected and discussed with the site Manager but I was assured the damage was due to general wear and tear and I wasn't to worry further. No damage was obviously noted in the interior as nobody would realistically check the boot release. The vehicle was driven to my house in Ridgehaven (15 minutes drive) at which time it sat in my garage for approximately 3 hours until my interstate guests and I were leaving for dinner only to discover that one tyre was completely flat.
Naturally we then went to change the tyre and discovered the boot release was broken when going to open the boot for the spare. The tyre was changed and then I promptly rang Europcar at the airport to see if a spare tyre could be brought to my house the next morning as my guests were preparing for a day in the Adelaide Hills with a view to ending up in the Barossa the next night and wanted to make sure they had a spare in case of another flat tyre.
The female operator I spoke to at the time explained to me that because of the time of the call (approx 7pm) she couldn't give me an answer on getting a spare to me until the next morning when the Salisbury branch reopened. At this time I also made a mention to the operator that the boot release appeared broken. No mention of being charged for this occurred as she clearly understood it must have occurred prior to me collecting the vehicle.
The next day I was told over a series of phone calls over 5 hours from the Salisbury depot that my guests would have to cut short their time in the hills and return to the Salisbury depot in the afternoon to then have to go to a tyre dealer for a replacement. They therefore did rearrange their plans to ensure they had a spare. Based on the letter I received it appears that Europcar are happy to charge people for an inconvenience to them but assume it's fine for the client to be inconvenienced when having to assist in sorting out a problem that isn't theirs to fix?
On top of this I have been charged for 4 days vehicle hire when in actual fact the vehicle was only used for 3. The vehicle was returned 28 hours prior to the original booked time so I am expecting the balance to also be credited back into my account with the false damage charge. As a person who has hired countless vehicles from Europcar across the country I would hope my support of your company will count when settling this matter.
DUBLIN -- Rented a car for a vacation in Ireland. I rented the car through Expedia and I thought I was renting with Alamo. At the time I rented the car, Expedia offered full coverage insurance. I have rented in Ireland before and I know that insurance is an issue there, so I bought the extra coverage.
When I got to the Dublin Airport to pick up the car, I found out that Alamo was Europcar and I was concerned since I had reviews of how awful they are and that they use bait and switch tactics, but I was stuck. The line for those of us who reserved a car was very long and people were taking up to an hour to get their cars. Once I got to the counter I understood why. The first thing that happened was the clerk changed our car from gas to diesel adding $5/day to our fees.
That was OK, but I then realized what they had done on Expedia's website by offering a low rate. They hoped to get customers in the door and talk them into something more expensive, so I was on the alert for any other changes. At that point, the clerk said I had to buy insurance. I provided her the voucher Expedia had provided proving I had already purchased insurance. She said it was not insurance, although it clearly stated it was. She insisted I take out a $30/day policy with them or leave a $5000 deposit. I told her I wasn't doing either of those.
After 30 minutes of this, she got her supervisor, **, who continued to insist that I had to leave a deposit. I finally pointed out the website that the voucher mentioned. ** and the clerk read the terms and it was clear they realized they were wrong at that point, however, they refused to honor the terms and insisted that I still had to leave a $5000 deposit. They then said, "Let's start over and just see how much it will cost if you didn't have reservations."
At that point, I called Budget Rent a Car. ** said she would beat whatever price they offered. Once I told her the price, she said, "You should go over there." Obviously, she didn't want to beat the price. She also told me the company would sue me for libel once I told her I was going to tell of my experience with them on review sites. Do not use Alamo in Europe or Europcar as they really are a horrible company with no ethics or standards. They know once you are in their office, you are their prisoner and they will not have mercy on you.
IBIZA -- DO NOT TRUST EUROPCAR. DO NOT GIVE THEM YOUR CREDIT CARD DETAILS - THEY COST ME £1000, PUT ME IN DANGER AND HAVE CAUSED ME NOTHING BUT STRESS SINCE. Europcar in Spain provided me with a dodgy car with a worn out clutch on the verge of failing, the clutch burnt out after just 90 minutes of hiring it as they failed to checked or service the car properly.
The car was dangerous which I would soon find out, the clutch failed whilst on a hill and would not go into first or second gear. It started rolling backwards down the hill with passengers in it so I had to push harder than normal on the clutch to stop us rolling off the hill and it burnt out. We had to jump out then and there, there was nothing more we could do.
Instead of rectifying the situation they shouted at me before even inspecting the car and gave me a bill of £1000. They ruined my holiday, the following 2 months were absolute hell trying to get this unfair situation resolved to no success. It was really upsetting and I've tried everything to stop them just taking my money but as it was booked in Spain there is nothing I can do, it is under Spanish law and would be very expensive to fight.
I have tried the ECRCS and other companies out there to resolve disputes but after battling for months it is pointless, the whole situation is hugely unfair. I had even paid extra for full insurance which turns out does not cover clutches or brakes. On top of it all they even charged me for a day's rental and 150 euros admin charge!!! Would you believe… just crazy. The big man wins. Please for your own sake, do not trust Europcar Spain. Do not give them your credit card details under any circumstances, it's not worth the risk. Europcar case number - **. (Ref Nr **)
JOHANNESBURG, SA, OREGON -- I booked a rental online for South Africa and paid ahead of time $370. On the reservation it says that the price includes Taxes, & Unlimited Miles and excludes CDW (collision damage waiver), PAI (Passenger Accident Insurance) and theft insurance. Again stated black on white at the time of reservation.
When I got to South Africa (Johannesburg airport) and pick up the car I mention at least 3 times to the Europcar representative that I don't need any CDW, PAI or theft since my credit card used for reservation covers that. I stated also that I don't want to see any other charges that those made at the time of reservation and he confirmed that, as long as the car is returned with a full tank of gas and in good condition.
That indeed happened; they inspected the car and said that everything is fine. Now try to imagine my surprise after returning home (US) when I see an additional charge of about $320. I tried contacting them but with no success. For instance the e-mailbox for South Africa does not accept e-mails.
Needless to say that I never received an invoice for the additional $320; it just showed up on my bank account. My guess is that they charge for anything they could. These people are thieves and here I'm referring in particular for the South African branch inside Johannesburg airport + Europcar website.
I don't like to generalize but judging by the volume of complaints, the issue seems a lot more widespread. I will never rent a car from them and advise other people looking for a car rental to avoid them like plague. Never come across a company that will tell you one thing online and charge you almost double in the end, since they have your credit card and they can. Caveat emptor!
CAPETOWN, SOUTH AFRICA -- We were on holiday in Cape Town South Africa over Easter 2012. We finished a great holiday there until we dealt with Europcar's post-rental billing service. While renting a Europcar sedan (which in itself was fine), we had a flat tire. Nothing spectacular, just a slow leak that we took to a service station when we saw it was somewhat deflated, and had the service station staff replace it with the spare. We advised Europcar on returning the vehicle that this had happened and that the tyre was stowed back in the car trunk. They indicated that this was no problem.
Several week's later, Europcar South Africa then notified us that they needed to make a charge to our credit card for 'damage'. They had decided to buy an entirely new tyre for themselves owing to a slow leak puncture and charged some $300 for it. We wrote back promptly and asked for more explanation before they made any charge, and asked how this could be? They have not replied but have charged the card. In repeated follow up messages to the company we have had no reply at all, and no explanation how a puncture results in the purchase of a brand new tyre for themselves.
This is outrageous service and communication from a global company. We intend to pursue this to senior levels in the company and to ensure that every review website we can find is notified of how poor this company is at customer service and in making very fishy charges to customer's cards.
PARIS, FRANCE -- My rental was with Europcar through Auto Europe. 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 "no" 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 Auto Europe 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 "Europcar" 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 Auto Europe 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 "several people had left their keys in the mailbox". 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 "deMarches" (not sure what this means) 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 "right away" 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 don't 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 Europcar's successfully. Europcar did almost nothing - did not tell me that the agency will be closed on the day I returned the car. Did not follow up on their car when, from their point of view, I did not return it on time. I can't imagine what would have happened if I had not proactively followed up.
Did not secure the car when I finally called them and let them know the situation. Did not secure the mailbox. Did not make any effort to retrieve the keys from the mailbox even without the key to the mailbox. Did not bother calling a locksmith to open the mailbox. Does not have keys to their own mailbox!!! 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'.