Buchbinder Car Rental - Car Rental From Hell
BUDAPEST -- We have rented and pre-paid a hire car from Buchbinder, at Budapest Airport. We were given an Opel Astra Wagon. The car was muddy and dirty inside but when you have just flown from Australia 22 hours you just want to get going to your eventual destination, in our case Balaton-Bereny, 180 km away.
Halfway into our journey, we have discovered that the a/c was not cooling, clearly out of gas. Upon arriving to our destination, I contacted Bucbinder to advise. They suggested that quickest solution was for me to take the car to the Opel service in Gyenesdias to have a/c re-gassed under warranty.
I did accordingly the next day. After four hours of waiting, the task was finally completed and a/c was cooling. Nevertheless, the service manager drawn my attention to the very bold rear tires, below legal limit and with a big chunk missing from the side of rear left tire. He advised me not to drive the car. I have asked him to call Buchbinder in my presence and tell them about his evaluation, which he readily did so.
Buchbinder agreed that next day I will be given another vehicle. However, the following day instead of a car, I have received a call from the manager who told me that after reviewing the service records of the car, they have found no evidence of any damage to the tires.
Therefore, they have concluded that all the wear and tear and damage must have been caused by me driving from Budapest to Balaton, on the freeway, without incident.
They told me that the minimum penalty I will have to accept is 405EUR and even if I were to replace the damaged tire at own cost with an exact match tire, I will still be liable to 305EUR.
This was not an acceptable outcome and I took the car to police HQ in Marcali. After presenting my story to 4-5 officers over 3 hours, they have agreed to file a report and took pictures of the less than road worthy tires.
I have rang Buchbinder again to advise of the police report and also emailed (with pictures) the booking agent Auto Europe in Australia. All talk of penalty ceased at that point but Buchbinder asked me to purchase a replacement tire at own cost with promise of future re-imbursement. That took another two visits and 2 hours at dealership, ordering and having tire fitted but I had a car I could use (sort of)
Three weeks later we have returned the car at Budapest Airport. We were told by the manager we were 1 hour late and were fined 159.31EUR. She was not concerned by any of our arguments and proceeded with fine.
I'm still waiting to be re-imbursed for tire 57900HUF as well. Both the cost of the tire and the fine have almost doubled the total rental fee.
Needless to say, hell freezes over before I rent another car from Buchbinder and I don't suppose my experiences would be a recommendation for others.
I have learned though, that I will always check all aspects and features of a rental car (including tires) even if it will take 1/2 hour.