TORONTO, CANADA -- I had reserved a car with Universal rent a Car in Toronto using carrentals.com I had picked this company because it had the best price. Specifically, here is what the confirmation email stated: Features: Automatic, Air Conditioning, Unlimited Mileage, All Cars Model 2007, Great Rates. 10% DISCOUNT APPLIED, 3 Days @ 18.95/day, 2 Hours @ 8.19/hour. Estimated Taxes and Fees: 11.748. TOTAL ESTIMATED CHARGES: 84.983 (CAD)
I should have known better. When a deal is too good to be true, there is usually some catch. Actually, this car rental turned out to be the worst rental experience I have ever had (and I have rented many cars in many places around the world). After calling the number to be picked up from the Toronto Airport, it took 45 minutes to come and get me. After picking up another customer, and driving to the rental site, more than an hour had passed since my initial call.
Upon arrival I was asked whether I was going to leave Ontario. I honestly told them that my final destination was Montreal. This, so I was informed, meant I no longer qualified for unlimited mileage, but a mere 200 miles per day only. Of course, what I really was going to have was 200 free kilometers per day, which is only 125 miles per day.
Since the rental was going to be a 4-day rental, I would only have 800 free km, not enough to make it to Montreal and back, even though Montreal is a stone throw past the Ontario border. At 20 cents per km, this could end up costing $60 or more extra. But there was more; I was also charged a cross-border fee of $8.99. Ontario to Quebec? As far as I know, that's still Canada.
When I next declined the insurance, planning to use my AMEX card, I was informed I still had to pay personal accident injury insurance for a total of $35.96. The PST, GST and TFFC were $16.34 instead of the estimated $11.75. And finally a "Maintenance" fee of $5.99 was added. All in all my estimated total charges (before the extra kilometers) was now at $144.36. But what could I do when I had to make it to Montreal that same afternoon and they already had my credit card number?
Then it turned out the car was not ready. So I had to wait for the cleaning. They never cleaned the outside and did a so-so job on the inside. Of course, they were unable to get the smell of smoke out of this allegedly non-smoking car. And the tank was only 3/8th full. And I later discovered that there was no car instruction manual. So 90 minutes after my first call, I was ready to start driving. By now I had grown rather suspicious so I checked the odometer. And sure enough, it was sitting at 9004. But my contract said 7429 - a difference of 1575 km. At a rate of 20 cents per km, had I not seen this, I am sure I would have been charged $315 extra.
The next surprise came at my first rest stop on the way to Montreal. can only thank God that I was heading to Montreal and not the USA. In fact, had I crossed to border to the US, I could have been in very serious trouble. Not only did I discover some fresh fruit left under the driver seat. I also found a hashish pipe in the backdoor cup holder!! I do not even want to think about the likely response of US border patrol officers.
Fortunately, I managed to get the car safely back to the Universal Rent-A-Car office three days later. I had planned to be brought straight from there to the airport, but my friend in Toronto did not trust them and instead had me return the car early, volunteering to take me to the airport instead. By now, I had also looked up the rental policy online. I usually do not check those policies in advance, assuming that the policy does not digress significantly from the quoted price.
The Universal policy indeed states that unlimited mileage applies to Ontario only (which they do not tell you in their confirmation email). However, it also states that a cross-border fee is incurred only when traveling to the US.
So when I asked for this fee to be removed, the company told me I should have protested the fee at the time of the rental.
There was no evidence now that I had not in fact driven into the US. I countered that the fee was added by them when I revealed I was going into Quebec. Oh, but going into Quebec also yields the same fee, so I was assured. I instructed them to get out their own policy. They finally figured they were on the losing end on this one and removed the fee.
When I informed them about the fresh fruit and hashish pipe and the serious risks they had therefore placed me in, particularly had I gone into the US, all I got back was a shrug. Not even an apology was offered. So I paid the $205.66, exactly 2 1/2 times the original estimated charges, and left the place. Glad to be rid of this deceptive crew. In short, I strongly recommend not renting a car from Universal Rent a Car in Toronto.
UNIVERSAL RENT A CAR IT IS A REAL SCAM!!! AVOID. Do not waste your time. My plane was late so I could not pick my car on time, but I called them and let them know that I want to keep my reservation. They said not a problem. When I got to that rental place, they told me that it was automatically canceled because I did not pick a car up on time (2h window). They did not care about my earlier calls. They got me another car not for $29.99 but for $55.99 plus some 3rd party insurance for $8.99 a day???!!
Upon inspection of the car, the guy did not tell me about some huge scratches on the right side of the car (back passenger door. When I saw that, he said that he was going to mention that (yeah right). That was late evening, no sun light when I was surrendering that car back to them. The guy from the distance of few meters saw a stone chip on the front windshield. I did not notice that and he saw that right away. I am pretty sure that that was there when I rented a car, I just did not pay attention to that (my bad). He said that there is nothing to worry about since my credit card insurance is going to cover that, and I will not be charged anything.
I said that I am not going to sign any of the documents so then he said something about me having a conversation with his boss - like I give a damn. After me having arguments for few minutes I said that I will only sign a statement that there is a stone chip on the windshield, and I need all the copies of the documents that I signed along with his signature. I knew that none of the insurance companies will pay for windshield replacement because of that. There is one very important thing, that company is not created to make money on a car rental. It is made to make money by committing different kinds of frauds!!!!
The first thing that I did after I left their office was a phone call to my bank. I reported my card lost, so there is no chance to charge me anything right now. On the top of this they should never make a Xerox copy of the credit card. It is like giving them permission to use it whenever they want to!!!! They called me this morning, since they are not able to charge my credit card, to give them claim number so they can get some money from insurance.
I do not know if they are just taking some chances or they are really dumb people. They called me from Canada here in US thinking that I am going to help them to screw myself up. Really interesting.
My advice is avoid that place, help me to remove that place from the car rental web search engines. Write your complain to **. If they got you for some reason, immediately block your credit card to avoid any charges. Do not let them make any copies of your documents. Ask for a copy of every document that you sign. Best of all do not sign anything, you are not obligated to do it by any of the laws. If they have a problem with that tell them to call caps and write a report. DO not listen to them, they are just a bunch of morons whose main goal is to screw you on money. Hope it helps.
How could a car rental company that operates at Toronto Pearson Airport operate without a website? If a company like this pays me to rent from them I think I would still refuse. No courteous customer service, pressure selling on their "in-house" car insurance. Cars are like probably 50 since I was told to wait 90 minutes before the car would be returned. They give you an uncleaned car which they claim was being sprayed and buffed. when I check it out the car was not even wet as would see if the car was sprayed or not. These people are crooks and must be reported to BBB for further investigation.
MISSISSAUGA -- My wife and I rented a car from Universal Rent-a-Car in Mississauga, Ontario via the internet, using CarRentals dot com. I chose Universal since their advertised rate was the cheapest. What a mistake! It turns out that they charge $8.95 per day for third-party insurance over and above their quoted rate. Has anyone ever heard of such a charge? It's not legal to drive in Ontario without third-party insurance!
Since my wife was in a hurry to get the car, she did not contest the charge. However, we had rented for three weeks, and we decided to return the car the next day, rather than pay this exorbitant, outrageous charge for third-party insurance. This led to surprise number 2: if you give back a car before the end of the period, this company charges you a penalty. Has anyone ever heard of such a thing?
Universal pointed out that the third-party insurance charge and the penalty for early returns were both displayed on the website. True, if you wanted to click on the links called "Local Policy Information" and "General Rental Rules". These charges, though, are so outrageous and so out of step with other car rental agencies that you would expect a car rental agency to bring them clearly to your attention.
In addition, the "Total Price" shown on the CarRentals dot com webpage did not include the insurance charge! The result was a nightmare. Rather than getting a cheap car for three weeks, we ended up paying a very substantial sum, much more than if we had gone to a company advertising a higher rate.