Universal Rent A Car Informative - Very bad service - attempted fraud
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).
(1) 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.
(2) 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 "Maintence" 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?
(3) 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.
(4) 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.
(5) The next surprise came at my first rest stop on the way to Montreal. I 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 back door cup holder!! I do not even want to think about the likely response of US border patrol officers.
(6) 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 on-line. 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.
(7) 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.
(8) 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.