Budget Rental Car - UK - Excessive mandatory insurance sprung on you at the last minute
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND, CALIFORNIA -- I live in the US (California) and traveled to the UK. Before leaving, I reserved a Budget rental car through Argus. The agreed upon price was $490.97. In the confirmation email I got from Argus, it refers to "Optional Extras or Fuel Charges are payable at the rental desk". When I got to the Scotland airport, after traveling for 24+ hours, and I was delirious with jet lag, they demanded I buy insurance for 501.50 pounds, which, at the current exchange rate, worked out to $796.36! That's 1.62 times as much as the original rental price!!!
Because I'm not used to either driving on the left side of the road, or driving a car with a manual transmission, I felt having a car with an automatic transmission (which I reserved) was mandatory. Those were getting to be in short supply even when I was making my reservation, and were likely sold out by the time I arrived, so I reluctantly agreed UNDER DURESS to buy the insurance. I was standing there with two suit cases in hand. My friend that I was meeting there had taken two weeks of vacation to spend time with me. I had made numerous non-refundable reservations, etc. I pretty much didn't have any options at that point.
I contacted Argus the next day through their web site, and they opened a ticket, but said the issue could not be investigated until I returned the car. Now, why on earth would that be the case? I'll tell you why: it's so that I would be more likely to hang on to the car, rather than shopping around for a better deal and returning the car early.
I called Argus a few days later, and someone assured me (and I questioned it and clarified) that this $796.36 insurance charge was a deposit, not a premium, and that it would not be billed to my card so long as I didn't damage the car, which I didn't.
I returned home on April 2, and on April 4, they had attempted to bill me for the entire $796.36. They only got $671.33 because that's about all I had in my checking account. They got a little more than what I had due to the overdraft protection, and of course I incurred overdraft fees.
I emailed Budget, and they beat me over the head with the fact that I had signed their contract, and basically told me to go to hell. Argus is expressing a little more sympathy, but I have yet to get a refund. The guy said he would pull the audio tape of the conversation I had with the Argus customer support woman, and if indeed I was assured that it was a deposit rather than a premium, I would receive a refund. That was stated on April 8. Today is the 12th, and I have not been given any updates, and I couldn't get the guy on the phone who was assigned this case, and he hasn't responded to my emails requesting updates.
I think Argus and Budget are co-conspirators in this. If Argus had given me correct information, I would have shopped around for a new rental car, and returned the old one, thus, at least minimizing the carnage. But, I was mislead, I was put off until it was too late to do anything about it, and now, I'm out an extra $671.33. This is highway robbery.
To summarize: I agreed in good faith to pay the stated amount of $490.97, and I did indeed pay this amount at the time I made the reservation. They ended up charging a total of $1297.33 for the rental car. That's 2.62 times what was originally agreed upon.
A rental company is well within its rights to charge insurance, but they should state their requirements UP FRONT and IN ADVANCE!!! They shouldn't spring this one someone at the airport! Even their own contract lists these charges as "Optional Services", but they refused to rent the car to me without me agreeing to pay these fees.
This is worse than bait and switch. Bait and switch at least gives the person the option to walk away. I had flown from California to Scotland, and I NEEDED a rental car, and had reserved one, and had paid the agreed upon price for it. Then, after they had me over a barrel, they extorted another $796.36 out of me. I will never rent from Budget/Avis ever again. I suggest you do likewise.